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Studios battle it out over S.T.A.L.K.E.R. license

Time for a bit of he said / she said drama, when it comes to S.T.A.L.K.E.R.. Author Boris Natanovic Strygatsky died unexpectedly in mid-November, leaving two separate game studios squabbling over who owns the rights to future gaming adaptations. bitComposer is gloating about its recent acquisition, while GSC Game World - developers of previous games in the franchise - claims that it has the sole claim to the trademark.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. artwork from GSC Game World

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. artwork from GSC Game World

bitComposer published GSC's S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat in some regions. Executive Board member Stefan Weyl explains:

The acquisition of the S.T.AL.K.E.R. license serves as an important cornerstone for the further international orientation of bitComposer Entertainment AG. For us, this brand represents a bridge to an important segment of triple-A products and a milestone in the history of the company. We would like to express our gratitude to Boris Natanovich Strygatsky.

bitComposer claims it "has acquired the rights for future game adaptations of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. brand," leaving all other rights with the Strugatsky brothers. A spokesperson for bitComposer claims that GSC never actually held the license for S.T.A.L.K.E.R..

However, Eugene Kuchma from GSC would like to address these "rumours" (currently posted in pride of place on the bitComposer website).

An update on the game's Facebook page elaborates:

We find it necessary to inform that GSC Game World and Sergey Grigorovich remain to be the sole owners of all the intellectual property rights to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game series and the brand overall, including all the trademarks, the game universe, the technology etc. This can be easily verified with the trademark services online.

One new story that has popped up while both studios debate the issue suggests that perhaps it really is all a big misunderstanding. Sergey Galyonkin, who works for Russian games company Nival wonders if perhaps bitComposer has bought the rights to the original book, Roadside Picnic, and the Stalker license that has flowed on from that - a very different beast to the film and game franchise known as S.T.A.L.K.E.R..

Both sides of the situation seem to have a great level of respect for the franchise, and the work of Boris Strygatsky and his brother Arkady. However, neither seems prepared to give it up just yet, and the situation is anything but clear right now.

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