Older games and Abandonware views

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    • #25175 Reply

      Firstly, would just like to say like many other people, thank you to both you and your wife for what you folks did for the computer industry. Like many others I too was captivated by your adventure games, and spent many a late night playing one of your games.
      My question has to do with the older games, like Lunar Leeper or Mine Shaft and others that are no longer in production (do not read that as Kings Quest or any of the Quest series). Abandonware has been brought up a few times in the local PC magazines and I would like to know do you think that, or encourage, that Sierra class the older 286/386 type games (not KQ or any other Quests) as abandonware and make it freely availible? What is your thought on abandonware seeing that you owned the software company before?

    • #25176 Reply

      (re: Older games?) I’m not sure what I would do if I was running Sierra. My guess is that I would not officially authorize the products as “abandonware”, but would look the other way as people download them and pass them around.

      Here’s why:

      Sierra made a lot of money (like $20 million a year during my day), selling obsolete products as compilations on CD. We would put 10-20 products on a CD and sell it for $9.95. Selling old games at a reduced cost was a material part of our revenue, and a huge chunk of our profit. Plus, it’s a win for everyone. Those who bought the cheap CDs got a lot of value for what they paid.

      That said, the old 286/386 games don’t even run on most computers. But, who knows what the future holds? Perhaps a 286 based cell phone will release someday, or a PDA. It’s difficult for a company to “turn off” a potential source of future revenue.

      Anyway … my sense is that most game company management teams would like to make these public domain, but can’t really if there is a chance they represent future revenue. Therefore, they ignore the piracy, but would clamp down if suddenly a way were found to monetize the older products.

      -Ken W

    • #25177 Reply

      (re: Older games?) The future may be a lot closer than you think, many people are slowly realising that there is more than just fancy graphics.
      Like you said, a lot of the games don’t run under XP Dos and fast P4’s, however there is a project that I have been made aware of that will enable one to run older DOS games in an emulated DOS enviroment (much like the Apple Emulator on the Roberta Williams Anthology – btw great collection!) and quite a few games are able to run under it. For those interested, have a look at:
      Link: http://dosbox.sourceforge.net(http://dosbox.sourceforge.net) 

      I really wish that they would put together collection games, but I suppose that that way they would be afraid that they would have to support it. But if they don’t want to support it then they should state that xyz is classed as abandonware for the general public enjoyment. Sigh! We can only wish.

    • #25178 Reply

      (re: Older games?) This is interesting stuff!
      Sierra’s current business policy is a mystery to me. A good example is the Leisure Suit Larry Ultimate Pleasure Pack, which contains all of the LSL games in one great collection. However, it was obviously never printed in big enough numbers, as you can hardly even find a used copy of this collection on eBay or Amazon, and when you do the price is simply insane. Al Lowe himself has written about his frustration concerning this collection. Sierra won’t sell more copies of it, even when there is a huge demand on the product and their development cost of the product is zero. Can’t they afford the printing and warehouse costs? Come on! Of course they can! May it be that they have left the old Sierra products behind as part of a strategy to “cut the cords” to the old Sierra? Maybe… but it doesn’t seem like a very good idea. People loved the old Sierra, and still do, while people couldn’t care less about the current Sierra even though they buy the occasional game published by them. Or can it be that they don’t want to have “old” games using old technology associated with the name of a company striving to release the coolest games with the latest technology?
      But my money would be on the assumption that they simply don’t know what their customers want anymore.

    • #25179 Reply

      (re: Older games?)

      ken makes a good point about the cell phones. someone posted on adventuregamers a few months ago that he had converted several AGI games to run on cell phones. he said his company was talking to sierra about it. never heard anything else and i can’t find anything about this on the web, so it might be a hoax, but if it’s true i think it’s a great idea.

      as frustrating as it is that sierra won’t give up the rights, they are relatively lax about abandonware. you can still find the games all over the web if you look (not that i’d ever do a thing like that! ) or maybe their lawyers just don’t know where to look…

      i think most nostalgic sierra fans prefer the real thing to a download, anyway. i regularly scour the goodwill store for oldies. (picked up the VGA rerelease of PQ1 yesterday for $3.99, boxed and everything!)


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