GSC: We Remain The Owner Of The STALKER Brand

By Nathan Grayson on December 13th, 2012 at 11:00 am.

Update: GSC responded to our queries, pointing out two rather major items: 1) “BitComposer doesn’t have any rights as to S.T.A.L.K.E.R., except for distributing our game Call of Pripyat on some territories,” a rep clarified. “They may have purchased the rights for the game based on Roadside Picnic, but it has nothing to do with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. or its universe.” 2) “GSC is seeking ways to continue the series, and we’re also considering selling out the brand to a decent developer or publisher.” Hear that? Somebody amazing, BUY STALKER.

Original: I always wanted to be able to tell people STALKER will never die, but I’m not sure I wanted it to be like this. First, German publisher bitComposer claimed to have obtained the rights to develop games about Chernobyl’s implausibly bad luck with nuclear power via a book-series-shaped backdoor. When doubt was cast upon the validity of their claim, they confirmed to Jim that the rights are theirs, but hesitated to comment any further as to what that could mean for the series or the sadly defunct STALKER 2. Now, though, the thought-to-be-corpsified remains of original STALKER dev GSC Game World have caught wind of the controversy, and they’re returning fire with fighting words.

In a statement to RPS via email, GSC laid its claim to the STALKER game series as we know it and cast doubt on bitComposer’s ability to deliver, well, anything.

“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 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.”

Earlier this year, rumors also surfaced that Bethesda had acquired the rights to develop new STALKER games. They hadn’t, of course, but wouldn’t that have been neat? The majority of STALKER’s old team, meanwhile, is now strapping into their hazard suits and heading into multiplayer territory over at Vostok Games.

I’ve contacted GSC to clarify exactly how far its claim to STALKER reaches and whether or not it has immediate concrete plans to continue the series. As soon as I know anything else, you will too. BECAUSE HIVEMIND.

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79 Comments »

  1. SkittleDiddler says:

    “Earlier this year, rumors also surfaced that Bethesda had acquired the rights to develop new STALKER games. They hadn’t, of course, but wouldn’t that have been neat?”

    No. No, it would not have been neat.

    • Blackcompany says:

      I cannot overstate my agreement on this.

      Imagine STALKER with regenerating health, quest markers, and an endless array of utterly soulless, meaningless “radiant” (fetch) quests.

      That’s something to cheer about, alright.

      • rei says:

        There’s a difference between publisher and developer. I doubt it would’ve been made by Bethesda Game Studios. More than likely they would’ve tried to bring on board as many of the original key devs as possible.

      • LJFHutch says:

        Bethesda own Fallout, I don’t see why it would make much sense to develop stalker as well. Just for the fact that I like the eastern European art style I hope we see another stalker.

      • Xerian says:

        STALKER already has meaningless “radiant” fetch-quests and quest markers…
        Your arguement is invalid. And Bethesda has never made a game with regenerating health. Thus your arguement is invalid yet again. I dont like you.

        • basilisk says:

          Stalker has regenerating health, too. I’m still not sure if Blackcompany was joking or not.

          • Muzman says:

            Wearing an artifact isn’t the same thing as regenerating health

          • basilisk says:

            Muzman: I was playing Stalker:CS quite recently and you definitely regenerate health even without any artefacts. Some just make the process faster, but even with the default rate you can see the bar slowly filling up right in front of your eyes. I’m pretty sure it was the same in SoC. Haven’t played CoP yet.

          • Muzman says:

            Sure you weren’t wearing one of the suits that does it for you?
            You could be right, but if it is there I think it’s so slow as to be irrelevant especially in combat. When people speak of ‘regenerating health’ they are usually talking about the console trend of dispensing with health packs etc and being able to restore your health by simply avoiding taking damage for a short period of time. (I don’t know if Fallout 3 has that either). So for clarity’s sake I point out Stalker does not do that at least.

          • basilisk says:

            Muzman: Yeah, it’s definitely a far cry from the usual rate seen in modern shooters, but still, it is pretty noticeable. Won’t help you in a firefight, but will provide decent healing while you’re moving from one bandit group to another.

            If Fallout 3 has any health regen at all (which I honestly don’t remember, but it might), it’s a lot slower than Stalker’s.

          • cue kalamos says:

            clear sky is the only stalker with regenerating health as far as i remember, and if its in COP than its barley noticeable, the difficulty does affect this though, i play on the hardest on stalker so i guess i just dont get to use it

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            I just tested it. It takes 4 MINUTES to regenerate the health bar with no artifacts or healing armours. That is nothing like the “crouch behind a barrel and be all better from bullet wounds in 5 seconds” approach.

        • lijenstina says:

          Yes Stalker has regenerating health but as pointed out it is useless in a firefight.
          Questing wise it got the generic pre-scripted fetch and kill quests where the dev (or a modder) just fills up data in a config file and adds the dialog but that is not the main focus of the game. The journey through the detailed world with the authentic East European feel is what counts. :) I’m not sure if the game atmosphere would be preserved if developed elsewhere.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      Vote for neat here. I tend to like Bethesda games.

      Sue me.

  2. arioch says:

    All this hoohah because the author of one of the greatest sci-fi books ever written died last month…

    Just seems like a load of pointless scrabbling around to me.

  3. Arglebargle says:

    Let the litany of quotes begin!

    Uh, lets see, ‘Get out of here, Stalker’? Or is that S.T.A.L.K.E.R?

  4. Sulaco says:

    Wasn’t the sequel to this originally going to be be called F.L.A.S.H.E.R?

    • Prime says:

      No, it was going to be called D.E.E.R.S.T.A.L.K.E.R, and would have been set in the British Isles after the destruction of the Sellafield nuclear plant when robots wearing fancy-man hats would hunt…

      …waitaminute.

  5. MetzgerHorst says:

    i love the original novel, and would love an accurate adaption in a video game. STALKER was at most loosely based on the book, which i never really understood why.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      As much as I love the setting of Roadside Picnic, I think S.T.A.L.K.E.R:Shadow of Chernobyl created an excellent version all it’s own.

      That’s not to say a game set in the Roadside Picnic world wouldn’t be awesome. Having multiple ‘zones’ to travel to & explore/loot of alien artifacts could be a lot of fun.

    • cue kalamos says:

      the game STALKER is based on the movie called ehh STALKER , whitch is based on the book

  6. kataras says:

    Bypassing all the legalese and PR talk, my interpretation so far is that Bit bought the rights to the book in order to make a game and is trying to piggyback on STALKER’s success and the frustration of its fans. Maybe even hoping that IP law in Ukraine is full of holes, and they can somehow end up with the whole franchise.

    • The Random One says:

      My interpretation as well. Which means that either they are incredibly confused and thought S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was an official game of the book (and so by buying game rights to the book they were effectively the buying the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise, which anyone with a small knowledge of the franchise knows isn’t true) or they are incredibly dumb and bought the rights so they could make a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. knockoff (in which case the last thing you should do is explicitly refer to it as S.T.A.L.K.E.R., since that’s pretty much saying they bought the book rights to make a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game without owning rights to it and giving GDC all they need to successfully sue them).

      Either way, the chances that we’ll get a good game – let alone one that reiterates meaningfully upon S.T.A.L.K.E.R.’s concept instead of being a souless skin-deep clone – seem small indeed.

      It’s pretty hard to type S.T.A.L.K.E.R. like that so many times on my smartphone, but NEVER COMPROMISE.

  7. foda500 says:

    No, Nathan. It would not have been neat to see STALKER stripped of everything that made it a great game and turned into a shallow open-world borefest.

    P.S: Please let STALKER die gracefully devs.

    • Gorf says:

      Maybe he just meant that it would’ve been neat that a big publisher would have had the rights to continue the IP.
      I agree that a Beth developed STALKER would have been horrific, but I think its far more likely they would have just published and passed the development to another team (if the rumour had infact been true ofc.).

      • cue kalamos says:

        unfortunately Bethesda the publishers don’t have a good track record for putting out good games, remember WET? I would rather the series die

  8. felisc says:

    This may seem vaguely off topic, but all that stalker talk left me wondering if there have been games based on chris marker’s la jetée ? Maybe an adventure game, or a mod ? Any idea ?
    (Stalker-tarkovsky-chrismarker’s documentary about him / that was the trail of thought).

  9. Tunips says:

    I’d love to see something attempting to hew closer to to the novel and, separately, the film. Some of the NPCs in STALKER espouse a sort of crummily written mysticism.
    A button to lie down and hug the Zone as a returning lover would be worth more than all the exactingly modelled firearms you can carry.

    • The Random One says:

      Agreed. I want a game in which it’s just you, the environment, a complex metaphor and invisible anomalies that tear out your spine.

  10. Crossing says:

    CD Projekt, please, buy it.

    • Gorf says:

      Good choice.

      • Crossing says:

        Care to explain why?

        • coldvvvave says:

          CDP ever made an open world game? Or anything other than Witcher? I know people like CDP for GOG and Witcher but their portfolio have nothing suggesting they’ll do a good open-world FPS or FPS at all. GSC at least had some experience with Venom and Firestarter.

          • Crossing says:

            They are one of the most trustable game companies right now, and they are making a game known as Cyberpunk: 2027. It’s going to be based on a traditional pen and paper rpg, and they appear to be doing great, from what they have released.

          • coldvvvave says:

            That makes them capable of producing an open world FPS game? No, I don’t think so. Not to mention Witcher 2 was a huge disappointment at least for me, so no, I don’t trust CDP.

            By the way, Poles making a game in post-Soviet setting? Nope, I don’t need another Gorky-17.

          • Crossing says:

            Wow, that’s a bit racist.

          • lurkalisk says:

            I think you may be looking for a different word. Racist definitely isn’t the right one.

          • coldvvvave says:

            Racism? Against people of same race and ethnic group? How much sense does it make?

  11. Network Crayon says:

    I’ll buy it!

    …I have …£15?

  12. SuperNashwanPower says:

    I think we are being trolled.

    Let me grieve you gits – either its dead or it isn’t. Stop waving its dessicated, re-animated with psi energy corpse in my face

  13. Stellar Duck says:

    “Earlier this year, rumors also surfaced that Bethesda had acquired the rights to develop new STALKER games. They hadn’t, of course, but wouldn’t that have been neat? ”

    No! I cannot overstate my joy that it wasn’t real. I sincerely hope Bethesda never get’s their clammy hands on STALKER. I’d rather never have another game than that. Bethesda games are the antithesis of STALKER games. Empty shells, static worlds of lifeless NPCs and entirely revolving around the player without actually having any re-activity to the players actions.

    • Xerian says:

      So just like STALKER?

      • coldvvvave says:

        > Empty shells,

        Every single character in STALKER

        > static worlds

        Every single STALKER location and all Zone in general

        > lifeless NPCs

        Every single STALKER NPC

        > and entirely revolving around the player without actually having any re-activity to the players actions

        Yep it’s STALKER

        • cue kalamos says:

          oh look the angry Bethesda fanboys are out in full force today

          • coldvvvave says:

            Stalker is a graveyard of ambition. Small team got arrogant. If you followed its development you should know. They wanted to compete with HL2, they wanted to compete with Doom3, they even wanted to compete with CoD ffs, they even wanted a car helicopter chase with machinegun turret, Just failed to deliver and that half-baked “cult” game is what some people here worship. Sad. Not sure how Bethesda have anything to do with it.

            I play SoC occasionally. But without mods it’s empty.

        • fish99 says:

          And yet Stalker felt more like a real place than anything Bethesda have ever crafted. It had soul, creativity, atmosphere and vision. Meanwhile from Bethesda we have the most banal and generic fantasy series around.

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        If you’ve never played S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl then sure just like it.

      • cue kalamos says:

        did you read the quest text? did you actually see how the mutants roam around the levels? did you even play the games?

        • coldvvvave says:

          Did you play it on release without mods? Actual 1.00 version? No? Nothing happens there. Ever. Only suicdes in barrels.

          Also, what? Mutants roam around? What mods are you using? Something like “Enable_nonexistant_AI”?

  14. Muzman says:

    Trying to think what they could actually use with these rights: Stalkers -check, An Exclusion Zone of some kind- check, Artifacts, nasty Anomalies, A legend of the Wish Granter, Abandoned desolate landscape. Protective suits, military/frontier lifestyle w. black market et al
    Sounding pretty good so far.
    If they mention Chernobyl or Pripyat they’re probably in trouble. No psy malarkey or Noosphere. Artifacts are not created by anomalies. Mutants…hmmm… they’d have to be careful how they did it. Small hairy children with telekinesis are a lock. There are other strange things in the book they could draw from, but it’s mostly more abstract like burning fluff or the weird spooky gas cloud thing. No bloodsuckers unfortunately.

    hmm.

    • DK says:

      The dead coming back to life and just living with their younger relatives again is such a freaky concept, it’s a real shame the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. interpretation was bog-standard zombies.

      • figvam says:

        Also, the fact that the Zone isn’t an aftereffect of some nuclear incident, but a former alien camp. That alone would take the plot into a completely different direction.

  15. Ayru says:

    Sell it to E.A. They have the money and the dedication.

  16. GameCat says:

    “They may have purchased the rights for the game based on Roadside Picnic, but it has nothing to do with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. or its universe.”

    the game based on Roadside Picnic

    THE GAME BASED ON ROADSIDE PICNIC

    OH MY, YES! bitComposer, please make this game, please make this game, pleasemakethisgame, pleasemakethisgame, PLEASEMAKETHISGAMEDFHSDFKSJDF!

  17. UpsilonCrux says:

    I want a STALKER game focussed primarily on the anomaly known in Roadside Picnic as “Dick the Tramp”. Also, Witches Jelly.

  18. RProxyOnly says:

    “Earlier this year, rumors also surfaced that Bethesda had acquired the rights to develop new STALKER games. They hadn’t, of course, but wouldn’t that have been neat? ”

    No, it certainly would NOT!

    Bethesda might make good elder scroll games (for those who like that sort of thing), but their ‘vision’ for gaming is far too childish, simple and generic for a mature franchise like Stalker…..and no, Dishonoured certainly doesn’t count as mature gaming, it’s more like a kid’s vision of mature gaming.

  19. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Also, for the Russians in the game, I would really like to see Russian voice actors. Even russian with subtitles (apart from when speaking english with a proper russian accent). The BIGGEST turn off in Metro 2033 was the god awful accents, with people from Chicago trying to sound like people from the Urals, and just ending up sounding like bad american sitcom actors on the verge of vomiting. In the end I actually switched the game to Russian and read the subtitles. It cant have been that hard to find native speakers who also spoke english.

    Even Nitro in Call of Pripyat was dreadful, and thats within the STALKER series. Stick to Russians please – listening to the conversations and jokes in Russian at the Pripyat army base in CoP or Jupiter was so cool. I had no idea what they were saying, but I loved it. I believe the book is set in Canada if I’m right (Ive only read the first 30 or so pages), but there are a few russian characters.

    I am english. But I dont need the english language for 100% of playtime to be convinced to buy a game

    • Lone Gunman says:

      NPCs in STALKER speaking Russian definatly improves the atmosphere. I haven’t played Metro yet but when I do I think I will play it with Russian voices + English subtitles from the start :D

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        When you meet the little boy in Metro, temporarily switch it to english. Then, once you get the urge to physically rip out your own teeth at how bad it is, switch back to russian :) I muted him most of the time before I realised you could change languages in the options.

  20. Hitchhiker says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing STALKER 2 made as an open world but please by God Bethesda stick with the Elderscrolls and Fallout worlds I’ve come to love you for and please stay the hell out of the zone. I like it just the way it is. art, engine, repeated one liners and all. I do not want to see the game Americanized. That would totally suck.

  21. Gorf says:

    “A bad game would be sad, but I can always skip it…no game is just no game.”

    ….better to have loved and lost, then never loved at all, eh?

  22. cue kalamos says:

    that makes no sense, if the game is bad you wont play it, if there is no game to play you wont play it

    either way you wont play it

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