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Thread: What happened to System Shock?

  1. #1
    Registered: Jun 2007
    Location: Hungary

    What happened to System Shock?

    I'm almost sure this topic has been already discussed here somewhere, but I couldn't find the appropriate thread. Sorry if I open a redundant thread, then.

    So my question is: what happened to System Shock? I mean, old games (even some far less interesting ones) from that era are generally still sold even today - Half-Life is still maintained by Valve; all Deus Ex installments are on Steam - they are all alive and officially supported. Of course HL and DX are really awesome franchises those really deserve to be remembered forever... so like System Shock. But still, System Shock 2 is not sold anymore. Why's that? What happened? Who's responsible for this? Who's to blame? Why was it just dropped like that? I just can't understand, how could it happen to a so immersive, innovative, awesome game, like System Shock 2.

    Dropping SS2 was an especially dumb move even financially, since many folks are becoming interested in SS2 as they meet the BioShock series. A BioShock release would give a boost to SS2 sales too.

    My guess is that it's EA's responsibility, but please tell me if you know more.

    Sorry if I asked something which is already discussed here and everyone else knows besides me.

  2. #2
    It's a combination of some of the following: The companies that made them no longer exist, but their ownership and copyright is legally ironclad for decades after death, unless purchased or permissibly passed along through legal enough means. The publishers that put them in stores no longer exist, but their ownership/copyright--yada yada. Some of the companies involved were split into at least two companies, merged into another company, absorbed and digested into another company, or just died and live in a limbo-like afterlife in a file cabinet along with a billion great ideas, but the ownership--yep. The rights have passed more than one hand, and some older games have components belonging to more than one owner, and they don't communicate without involving lawyers and bureaucracy and maybe even board members, and that costs time and money they need to believe is worthwhile according to formulae that may not be up-to-date--ironclad, if fuzzy with mold. There're not enough voices in petitions and website comments that can get $$$ flashing in the eyes of investors. Views on piracy, and other ideas about copyright and ownership and starving the competition, feed an all-or-nothing attitude about ideas and products that are not being sold in the free market, and the fuzziness is so severe, the legal obstacles may as well be ironclad for all the immobility. But I'm being fuzzy and overly simplistic.

    I don't know if Richard Garriott still owns stock or has any say, or if he ever did after 1992, or any other key figure for that matter. Basically, how many people are involved in the ownership of parts or the whole of the original System Shock. And how many legal or ego factors will, or are, holding things back so people have to make spiritual successors but not put System Shock back on the market, let alone prepare it for modern systems?
    Last edited by jtr7; 3rd Dec 2012 at 04:30.

  3. #3
    Registered: Dec 2002
    Location: Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    In our meeting with Josh "Robotkid" Randall (the producer of SS2) he said that all the rights are belong to EA.
    ---Old Habits Never Die---

  4. #4
    Registered: Jun 2007
    Location: Hungary
    Quote Originally Posted by Valet2 View Post
    In our meeting with Josh "Robotkid" Randall (the producer of SS2) he said that all the rights are belong to EA.
    But then why don't they re-release the game or make a sequel or something? I really don't understand. I don't think it would take such a big investment to make an official patch for the game, release it on Steam, then watch the cash flowing in. And don't say it wouldn't be profitable: then why are so many other old games on Steam? I think SS2 is really not less notable than them, especially that it has spiritual successors. (I don't insist to Steam release, of course, it was just an example - it would be enough if the game could be bought somehow.)

    Does anyone know what's the developers' view on this?

  5. #5
    Registered: Dec 2000
    Location: New Atlanta, Sector 11, Building 71-G.
    System Shock 1 & 2 on GOG or Steam or even Origin with full Windows 7/8 compatibility would sell like hotcakes. Electronic Arts needs to get their head together and show off these classics to current gamers. System Shock is still my favorite game of all time and to not see it not available on digital distribution sucks.

    With the success that is BioShock 1, 2 and soon Infinite, not to mention Deus Ex and Human Revolution, there is no excuse for them to not make System Shock 3, legal or not.

  6. #6
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Athens of the North
    Quote Originally Posted by Valet2 View Post
    all the rights are belong to EA.
    This is where there's some disagreement. If you read this article then it suggests that the trademark to the game belonged to EA but the rights to creating the game belonged to Looking Glass. I would guess that was done to allow EA protection against LGS publishing the game elsewhere, and likewise to prevent EA using another game company to create a game in the series without LGS's involvement.

    There's some discussion about the above article on that's also worth reading.

  7. #7
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Plus an insurance company holds part of the rights also.

  8. #8
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Idaho
    I'd love to see another System Shock released. Even just an enhanced SS1 release. That would be awesome. It is a shame that the game's IP related stuff is split up, but as long as I don't get a Cease and Desist letter from anyone for Half-Shock, I won't mind to terribly much. Oh, and I am still working on Half-Shock. Slowly, but surely.
    Last edited by kodan50; 12th Dec 2012 at 06:06.

  9. #9
    New Member
    Registered: Feb 2010
    I don't know the all the details (of course!), plus what I do know is heresay rather than actual knowledge, so take this post with a pinch of salt, but my understanding is that for whatever reasons, the true copright/licensing is uncertain, and would take time and money to assertain (legal decisions regarding business and copyright always cost good money...), so presumably the companies involved feel that the cost of legally proving their rights to the System Shock/SS2 games would outweigh any profits they could eventually earn back by making the two games available for sale to gamers.

    That's the situation as I'm given to understand it, and it does make sense (at least from the point of view of a business man, if not a gamer). A real shame, though, as the two SS games really should be re-released on Good Old Games/Steam/etc.

  10. #10
    Taking the Death Toll
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Location: they/she, fight me

  11. #11
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Vertigo, DragonSand, Xeen
    Sweet !!!

  12. #12

    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: 100 Rads Bar
    Yay! \o/

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