Activision Shuts Down Indie King's Quest Sequel

For any old-school PC gamer, the King's Quest series represented one of the cornerstone's to the evolution of the adventure genre. Even though it was a franchise that spawned many sequels, it was one that was eventually left behind as one from yesteryear – but not if the passionate bunch at Phoenix Online Studios have anything to do with it.

Phoenix Online Studios, who was working on a free continuation of the King's Quest series called the Silver Lining, had an agreement since 2005 with Vivendi Universal, the owners of the King's Quest IP, to create an episodic game that was set to be released online this Spring.

With the merging of Activision and Vivendi Universal, the ownership of the King's Quest IP changed hands and now fell to the decision makers at Activision Blizzard. That group must be a different personnel than the ones at Vivendi Universal, as Activision is no longer allowing the continuation of this independently-fueled project.

In a letter on the official site, the Silver Lining Development Team wrote:

February 28th, 2010To Our Fans: In 2005, Phoenix Online Studios received a Cease & Desist letter from Vivendi Universal, the owners of the King's Quest IP, in regards to our work on The Silver Lining. We complied with the request, and over the months that followed, we were able to work out a non-commercial fan license with Vivendi that allowed us to continue our work on the game. We have spent a lot of time recently reworking the material of The Silver Lining into episodic releases, with the first out of a planned five episodes completed, and submitted for review, and had hoped we would be able to bring our game to you, the fans, in the Spring of 2010.Recently, however, ownership of the Sierra IP changed hands and became the property of Activision. After talks and negotiations in the last few months between ourselves and Activision, they have reached the decision that they are not interested in granting a non-commercial license to The Silver Lining, and have asked that we cease production and take down all related materials on our website.As before, we must and will comply with this decision, as much as we may wish we could do otherwise. We cannot say enough how much we appreciate the support we have had over these years from our fans. Without you, we would never have gotten this far. There would be no game to develop, and no one to develop it for. You have been amazing and steadfast, and we will always remember that and appreciate it more than we can say.Sadly, after eight years of dedicated work and even more dedicated fans, The Silver Lining project is closing down.What the future holds for us, as individuals or a team, we cannot say. We have an amazing development team, however, filled with talented and hard-working individuals, and we hope the teamwork and rapport we’ve developed won’t go to waste. We hope that when we do know what the future holds for us, our fans will be there to enjoy what we can give them still.Again, thank you all so much for everything. This has been a long and crazy road, full of more twists than we could’ve anticipated, but more triumphs and wonderful memories than we could’ve ever hoped for. And for that, to all of you and to everyone on our team, we will always be grateful.Thank You,The Silver Lining Development Team

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • rawoysters
    "Big Greed" at it again
  • jhansonxi
    No much appreciation for community support for old titles anymore. It's all about the money now.

    They would be better off creating a new game with a similar style and storyline.
  • Abrahm
    Just another reason to not buy Activision anymore... As if MW2 wasn't enough for me.

    Either way, the guys making the game should change the title, modify the artwork a bit, and change the character names a little and release the game any way.
  • mlopinto2k1
    I am seriously in disbelief. This is a REAL outrage. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!!!!!!!! I corny, 20 year old game, snuffed out. For a NON COMMERCIAL LICENSE? The only word that comes to mind is, "SCUMBAGS".
  • kelemvor4
    This sucks for sure. However it shouldn't really be a surprise. There's no such thing as a publicly traded company that does anything other than try to make money for themselves. You don't make money by letting someone else give your stuff away.

    AbrahmJust another reason to not buy Activision anymore... As if MW2 wasn't enough for me.
    What's the deal with mw2? I thought it was an ok game, did I miss some kind of scandal?
  • JohnnyLucky
    King's Quest! That goes back quite a few years. RIP
  • Maxor127
    Pretty crappy. I don't see how what essentially amounts to fan fiction would infringe on anything. If they had the balls and ignored Activision's letters and threats, they'd probably avoid any legal trouble. What Activision is doing is pretty crappy though. They're just creating bad press for themselves by shutting down a fan game for an IP that hasn't had a new game in 10 years or a good game in 15 years. It's a dead franchise. The original creators have zero plans of returning to it, and they support fan projects. At worst, Activision would get free publicity and renewed interest in a forgotten franchise, and maybe release a compilation like Vivendi did. It's just a dumb move by them all around.
  • helldog3105
    Activision said it best in one of their either quarterly or annual reviews. "We will not pursue IP that cannot be 'exploited' on a yearly basis." So in other words, for all of your good old rehashed same old S%&*, buy Activision. To see what they do to products just look at World of Warcraft. How long did it take the first expansion to come out? Then very quickly the next expansion came out, and it was buggy as hell. Exploited is the exact wording that was used too. I'm not making that up. You would never see World of Warcraft Soda before Activision bought up Blizzard. What gets me is why don't they work out a contract to sell the damn game? There are many fans of classic adventure games that were watching this very closely. Now I will never have a chance to play it, let alone buy a copy of it. This is Activision showing how stupid they can truly be.
  • @kelemvor4: the non-dedicated server system.
  • nukem950
    Once again activision kills a game with which they have done nothing with. Is their new tactic to buy old games and then stop anyone from making sequels?
    They honestly are not thinking about their customers.

    I honestly have not bought any games in the last 5 years from activision with the exception of Quake 4. That was because I justified it by it being only 9.99 AND would run on Linux.

    BTW, if they were doing something with it, then I may have a different outlook.