The original Descent and Descent 2 (as well as Descent 3 and its Mercenary expansion) have been pulled for sale from GOG.com, and a dispute over royalty payments may be to blame.
The Descent games were removed on or around Dec. 18, according to a post on the GOG forums.
"Due to changing hands and in-flux legal agreements, we just had to remove Descent 1+2 & Descent 3 + Mercenary from our catalog, effective immediately," a GOG representative said. "We do want to apologize for not being able to give everyone more of a heads-up, and we will be doing our best to bring them back."
Yesterday, a statement from the Descent series' creators revealed that a dispute between developer Parallax Software and rights holder Interplay led to the games' removal from GOG. Parallax said it hasn't been paid any royalties for its Descent games over the past eight years.
Here's the letter from Parallax Software's Matt Toschlog and Mike Kulas, which was also posted to the GOG forums.
Parallax Software still exists and still owns the copyrights to the Descent games. Under our 21-year-old agreement, Interplay has the exclusive rights to sell Descent and Descent II, and they have been doing so on Good Old Games and Steam.
The problem is that Interplay has not paid to Parallax any royalties since 2007. We've talked to them about this numerous times over the years, and finally took action this fall. We served Interplay official notice that they were in breach of the contract, and when they still failed to pay we terminated the agreement.
This means that Interplay has lost the right to sell the Descent games, which is why they came down from GOG. (We're not sure why they're still on Steam; they shouldn't be.)
Interplay does, however, still own the Descent trademark, which they are free to use or license as they see fit (such as for Descent: Underground) as long as they don't violate our copyrights.
As for whether Descent and Descent II will be available for purchase again, we hope so. We'd be very happy to work things out with Interplay.
Parallax Software developed the first two Descent titles, which were released in the mid-90s. Descent 3 and Mercenary were developed by Outrage Entertainment, which was led by Toschlog.
Interplay is still selling the Descent: Freespace Battle Pack on GOG.com. Interplay purchased the Freespace intellectual property from publisher THQ and developer Volition in 2013. A new entry in the franchise, Descent: Underground, was successfully funded through Kickstarter earlier this year.
We've reached out to Interplay and GOG for more details on the situation surrounding Descent and Parallax Software's claims.