Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 mysteriously delisted from Steam & GOG

rollercoaster-tycoon-3

Back in January, zombie publisher Atari suffered the legal ire of its past-life contractor Frontier Developments over unpaid royalties for 2004’s theme park sim RollerCoaster Tycoon 3.

There’s been no word as yet of how that particular dust – alleged by gossip site TMZ to be worth some $2.2m – settled, but I suspect many of us would raise an eyebrow or six if someone told us that RT3’s sudden removal from Steam and GOG yesterday was merely a coincidence. But, well, it might be.

TMZ’s original report was big on melodrama (“You’ve taken us on a royalties roller coaster!!!”) and low on detail or corroboration (“Frontier started to believe it was getting ripped off, claiming another website showed higher sales figures”), but Frontier later briefly confirmed to Eurogamer that they had undertaken legal action over Atari’s alleged refusal to allow “our contractual right to audit.”

Four months later, Game Informer is alleging that the sudden removal of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 from Steam is a direct consequence of this argy-bargy. However, no sources beyond the earlier TMZ piece were given, and furthermore the GI story mistakenly claims that said piece was published last week, as opposed to four months previously. In other words, there is, as yet, no definitive proof available that RT3’s delisting is a direct response to the royalties dispute.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum does still have a Steam page, but the buy button has disappeared without, at the time of writing, any official explanation. Over on GOG, however, the game has also disappeared, but GOG staff put their heads above the parapet to claim that “Due to expiring licensing rights, we were asked to remove the product from our catalog for the time being. We’ll be in talks with new distribution rights holders to hopefully bring the game back as soon as possible.”

This kind of thing does happen all the time. We’ve just seen GTA IV have to replace a huge amount of music due to expired licenses for songs on its original soundtrack, for instance. Waiting four months after the announcement of legal action before delisting doesn’t quite smack of hot-blooded spite, but equally it could imply that some as-yet unannounced progress has been made in the court case.

If it is a licensing issue, it doesn’t appear to involve the overall RollerCoaster Tycoon brand – Atari and series creator Chris Sawyer signed a three year license extension for that last summer. To that end, the original RollerCoaster Tycoon, RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 and 2017’s remastered effort RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic are still available to buy.

It’s the “new distribution rights holders” in the GOG statement that grabs me most here, seeming as it does to suggest someone other than Atari now calls the shots on that particular game.

In short: nobody outside of Atari or Frontier can say for sure what’s gone on here, and right now there is no certain proof that the disappearance of RT3 is down to January’s court case, as suspicious as it might seem. All we can say is that is, right now, if you’re jonesing for mid-noughties theme park management, you might need to wait a while. Alternatively, there’s Frontier’s own 2016 spiritual sequel Planet Coaster, which itself almost certainly caused the brow of whatever creature currently wears the skin of Atari to furrow.

5 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I expect one of the nice bonuses about the indie boom is that fewer people go with publishers.

    No one to start grabbing at IPs and crying in a few years.

  2. HiroTheProtagonist says:

    Can’t say I’m sad to see it go, 3 was pretty bad, plus Planet Coaster does practically every aspect better. At most it was worth grabbing on sale alongside Doom 3 as a historical account of what happens when you try to make sequels without direct involvement of the original creator.

    I can’t imagine too many other people are worried either.

    • Vinraith says:

      Couldn’t disagree more. RCT3 is still my favorite of the series and, frankly, Planet Coaster is a pale shadow in every respect except the graphics. The management is shallow, the retail options are limited, the ride and attraction variety is sparse – I keep waiting for it to expand into a worthy follow-up.

    • Carra says:

      I disagree. I’ve spent over fifty hours with RCT3 years after it came out. Planet Coaster? I got bored after maybe ten hours. Sure, you can build a great looking park but the management part of it falls completely flat, there’s no challenge in this game at all.

    • MaxInfinity says:

      I disagree although I love Planet Coaster its early days yet and in my opinion it does need a lot of work. That being said it looks stunning graphically but graphics alone do not make a game Playable.
      Let me put things in simple terms. RCT3 was realeased in 2004 and until Planet coaster arrived there has been nothing that even comes close to the playability or the fun that rct3 has given to gamers over the years and still does. Obviously it does not compare graphically its nearly 15 years old but gameplay wise it certainly does. If planet coaster gets half the following that RCT3 got in its hayday it would be doing extremely well.