One of the most popular games of the nineties, and still a very popular choice of many space games enthusiasts, Descent, is officially unavailable on GOG. The GOG had to remove the complete franchise from its catalog, and although the DRM-free platform allows the avid fans to keep their progress intact, purchasing a new copy is currently not possible.
In the words of GOG Moderators:
Due to changing hands and in-flux legal agreements, we just had to remove Descent 1+2 & 3 + Mercenary from our catalog, effective immediately.
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.
You can follow the official thread on their forum here. The GOG community seems to be very dissatisfied about this situation and people even vote on what will get pulled from GOG next, pointing out that GOG hasn’t been very up-to-date with a lot of similar issues.
The reason behind this sudden decision, and this case in particular, seems to be the lawsuit coming from the original developer of the game, who claims that he hasn’t been paid royalties for years now. A very unfortunate circumstance indeed and one has to ask: why this issue hasn’t been brought up sooner?
Matt & Mike’s Response
Parallax’s very own Matt Toschlog & Mike Kulas even joined the GOG discussion. Here is their answer in full:
Hey, Folks. Here’s the story.
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 I and II will be available for purchase again, we hope so. We’d be very happy to work things out with Interplay.
Matt Toschlog & Mike Kulas
Since Interplay was bound by the contract to pay the original developers their share of the sales, their behavior is certainly unacceptable and FoH will try to reach Matt & Mike to get the official feature, now that Descent is almost out.
In the meantime, the game remains available on Steam. And Descent Underground looks simply awesome: