Reply To: Curious Question Regarding Phantasmagoria Film Rights.

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“… (by Tim Roberts) I’ve been wondering does sierra (the company who dont sell movie rights to people with idea’s of reviving a series in a way that it doesn’t break away from the original idea ect.) still own the rights to Phantasmagoria?

Sierra DOES own the rights to Phantasmagoria, although I would be surprised to see them ever do another Phantasmagoria game.

Here’s a bit of history on Phantasmagoria:

  • The first game was a huge hit, selling nearly one million copies. Players loved it, and most reviewers loved it.
  • Because the first game was such a hit, we rushed the second game into production. I wanted Roberta (designer of Phantasmagoria, and my wife) to do Phantasmagoria II, but she refused. She thought is was too soon to do another one, and wanted to “save it” until later. She preferred to jump immediately into another Kings Quest game.
  • Phantasmagoria II was started with a different designer, and was a mess. It’s not clear who is guilty, but probably the most guilty would be me. I switched designers from game 1 to game 2. Each designer has their own vision for what Phantasmagoria should be. Roberta had hers, and Lorelei had a slightly different one. Each could produce a good game on their own, but when one designer tries to emulate another designers style, or takes the game in new directions that are inconsistent with the first, it just doesn’t work.
  • Another problem with Phantasmagoria II was an out of control budget. I remember being frustrated with cost overruns, and ultimately having to make a decision to ship the product, even though the team wasn’t ready to release the game. The game that shipped still had some bugs, and needed patching.
  • Lastly, both Phantasmagoria and Phantasmagoria II were harmed by the sale of Sierra. The distribution of Sierra’s products were taken over by Davidson Software. For those that don’t remember, Davidson was a major educational software publisher. It’s owners, Bob and Jan Davidson, believed Phantasmagoria was an evil product, and should be abandoned. I had to argue behind the scenes just to keep it on the order form. The sales force, and even the customers, had no trouble figuring out that Phantasmagoria was not supported by Sierra management, and sent back their inventory, rather than pushing the product. Momentum for the product flipped overnight.
  • I would be surprised to see a third… Actually if Sierra were smart (assuming there is a Sierra), they would find the old video footage and re-release Phantasmagoria. It would be a hit if done right. I have zero doubt.

    -Ken W