The legal battle between the creators of the Star Control games and developer Stardock Systems, which acquired rights to the Star Control property in 2013, is likely headed to court. The original games’ creators, Fred Ford and Paul Reiche, are now turning to crowdfunding website GoFundMe to help pay their legal costs, which they say could run around $2 million.
Stardock filed suit against Ford and Reiche in December 2017, shortly after the two developers announced a continuation of the Star Control series titled Ghosts of the Precursors. Stardock’s suit alleged that Ford and Reiche have no claim to the Star Control trademark nor did they contribute meaningfully to the creation of Star Control or Star Control 2: The Ur-Quan Masters.
Ford and Reiche counter-sued, arguing that Stardock’s rights to the Star Control property grants the studio very little control over the franchise.
The legal battle escalated in March, when Ford and Reiche posted details of an alleged settlement proposal from Stardock. The proposed settlement, they said, would have required Ford and Reiche to surrender their rights to the franchise to Stardock, prohibited them from making a similar game for the next five years, and forced them to pay Stardock $225,000 along with a public apology and other accommodations. At the time, Stardock told Polygon that “Paul and Fred’s representations [of the proposed settlement] are not accurate.”
On their GoFundMe campaign, Ford and Reiche said that Stardock “wants to strip us of our creative rights, property and even our history as creators of the game.”
“We (Fred and Paul) have worked together for 30 years and have seen almost everything the game industry has to offer, but have never seen or experienced a predatory legal attack like this -- an established, corporate publisher attempting to bully two lone developers into surrendering their most treasured game, characters and unique universe,” Ford and Reiche said in their campaign.
Since the campaign launched on June 22, Ford and Reiche have raised a little over $8,000 of their $2 million goal.