So, last I heard, STALKER developer GSC Game World had shut down. Most employees moved on to create a new studio, Vostok Games, which is working on a STALKER-like online shooter called Survarium. GSC had been developing STALKER 2 when the company’s owner, Sergey Grigorovich, abruptly shut the place down. No official reason was ever given.
Then, what appears in my inbox yesterday? A curt, almost bitchy press release about the STALKER intellectual property.
This e-mail contains the official press-release by GSC Game World. We would appreciate posting the text of this message for your readers.
Sales & Licensing
GSC Game World
GSC Game World remains the owner of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. brand.
Kiev, 12.12.12. Press-release
In view of the rumors appearing in press, 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.
From time to time news on the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. brand purchase by this or that company appear over the Internet. We relate such a keen interest in the brand to its exceptional popularity. Even the purchase of rights to create a Roadside picnic (sic) book-based game by a small publisher is presented as the continuation of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise. We have doubts regarding the mentioned product by bitComposer (the publisher of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat on some territories), since the latter has significant debts in terms of fulfilling the obligations under the existing contract between our companies.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl is a survival/FPS game based on fictional events of the second accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a warning to mankind against careless playing with technologies. The game has established its name as in specialized network and print press, so as among the community of gamers. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.™s acknowledgement resulted in multiple awards gained worldwide. The success enjoyed in ex-USSR and overseas allowed the title to hold top spots in the games sales charts around the globe. The high anticipation of the game encouraged success of the ancillary products and souvenirs the collector’s edition of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl and a series of novels (ex-USSR and German-speaking territories only) set in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. universe have instantly become bestsellers.
The game was developed by Kiev-based GSC Game World studio and published by THQ worldwide (but for ex-USSR where GSC self-publishes).
Official web-site: www.stalker-game.com
Okay then! Talk about left field.
I don’t think there has ever been any discussion at all of who owns the STALKER IP. Indeed, there’s never been any serious doubt that it belongs to Grigorovich, because Vostok tried to buy it from him and he said no.
Meanwhile, as far as anyone knows GSC Game World no longer exists, which makes it passing odd that it’s sending out press releases and has employees. The company’s website is gone (in fact, Malwarebytes did a flip-out when I tried to access it) and no one’s really talking about GSC any more. So why the sudden press release?
I know a few ex-GSC people – Oleg Yavorsky and Anton Bolshakov were really helpful to me when I was working on the big STALKER article for Well-Played. Sergey Grigorovich was always kind of an enigma to me, and the sudden, bizarre shuttering of his own studio (which was, by all accounts, completely stable) in the middle of development on a very highly anticipated franchise sequel ranks as one of the more peculiar events in video game industry trivia. Now Grigorovich seems to be going out of his way to remind the world that he still owns STALKER, and also to air some dirty laundry about his former studio’s problems with its publishers. What’s the point?
Some people still yearn for a return to STALKER. In a way I’m one of them, but I’ve got to be honest: it was never the name STALKER, it was never the game concept alone, that made the series work so well. It was the people who created the setting. And those people are gone; they work at another company. So if this odd salvo is the first move in a Grigorovich-fueled effort to resurrect his IP, it needs to be treated with some doubt. I can’t imagine that any of his former staff would ever work for Grigorovich again, and I’m dubious that another studio could recreate precisely what made STALKER so unique.
Moreover, the tone of this release is hardly the right one to build positive buzz for something. To be honest, I’m publishing all this not as news or even as an opinion piece, but because I’m befuddled and wanted to share. So basically you read all this for nothing. Sorry.
Tell Steerpike to stop sharing at firstname.lastname@example.org.