Noted games developer Jeff Minter has announced that his Tempest-inspired title TxK has had its launched cancelled by Atari, accusing the company of acting as a "copyright troll."
Minter, known for his often off-the-wall creations under the Llamasoft label, worked for Atari in the 1990s and created a remake of the 1981 arcade game Tempest for the ill-fated Atari Jaguar console dubbed Tempest 2000. The game was a hit, even if the console wasn't, but Minters work has come back to haunt him: the company which now holds the Atari brand is refusing to allow Minter to release TxK, a 2014 PlayStation Vita title, on other platforms.
'All the stuff we had ready or near ready will now never see the light of day,
' wrote Minter of his troubles with the company. 'No TxK PC, PS4, Oculus, GearVR, Android. Thank "Atari". It's achingly sad because I *loved* Atari. Getting to work there, and creating one of their last great games, was such a joy for me.
The company currently known as Atari is not the Atari for which Minter worked: these days, Atari is little more than a label with the original company having been closed down and sold to French gaming giant Infogrames in 1999 after having spent six years as a division of GT Interactive. Perhaps more tellingly, the current Atari (Infogrames as-was) hit financial difficulties in 2013 when it was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. These days, the once-giant Atari is little more than a shell consisting of just ten people spread across three company names, headed by Frederic Chesnais.
Minter has claimed that Atari's actions against him have been 'going on behind the scenes for a while,
' outlining the company's behaviour in a blog post archived to Pastebin
. Atari, meanwhile, has spoken to Eurogamer
with a statement which claims 'Atari was surprised and dismayed by the very close similarities between TxK and the Tempest franchise,
' citing numerous reviews which compared the two titles.
'They are still trying to insist that I remove from sale Vita TxK (even though it's plainly at the end of its run now and only brings in a trickle these days) and sign papers basically saying I can never make a Tempest style game ever again,
' Minter laments of the company's threats. 'So no chance of releasing the ports.
Atari's actions against Minter, a much-loved character in the games industry, have stirred up a hornet's nest of ill-will, with numerous fellow developers and games fans taking to Twitter to castigate the company and propose solutions extending to a crowd-funding campaign to buy the rights to the Tempest franchise from Atari and donate them to Minter.