Follow TV Tropes

Following

Screwed By The Lawyers / Video Games

Go To

  • Robert A. Kraus, CEO of the comic company RAK Graphics, sued Sega for re-releasing Chakan the Forever Man on Wii, as the game was based on a character he created.
  • Scholastic didn’t see a major re-release of its The Magic School Bus video game (for Sega Genesis) on Wii, due to Nintendo not getting a Virtual Console edition at all.
  • Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do To Deserve This? was forcibly renamed to What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord? after an angry letter from Warner Bros.
  • The Tetris Company claims to have copyrights on basically every aspect of the game, even those which the US Supreme Court has ruled cannot be copyrighted (Lotus v. Borland), and they'll send C&D letters to anyone who dares make a game with falling tetrominoes, or even just the Russian folk song "Korobeiniki"note ; this litigiousness ended up killing Tetris: The Grand Master.
      Advertisement:
    • Blockles was pulled after a lawsuit from The Tetris Company was settled out of court.
    • This is also what's preventing Tetris Attack from being re-released. The game itself has nothing to do with Tetris, instead being a localization of the Japanese game Panel de Pon. With the head of The Tetris Company openly regretting licensing out the name to Nintendo, the chances of it appearing on the Virtual Console are very slim; as of 2015, it seems the game can only be referred to in works that make reference to the actual Tetris series, such as Super Smash Bros.. Pokemon Puzzle League—an N64 sequel that was heavilly themed around the Pokémon anime and made no reference to Tetris—did get a Wii Virtual Console release, and Puzzle League stuck as the English name on future games. Eventually Nintendo threw up their hands in defeat and simply released the original Japanese Panel de Pon on the Nintendo Switch Online service, sidestepping the legal issue entirely.
  • Advertisement:
  • In the Groove stopped development after a lawsuit from Dance Dance Revolution publisher Konami was settled out of court. Similar lawsuits on Guitar Hero (at this point owned by Activision) and Rock Band were less successful.
  • In light of the then-upcoming release of the Japan-exclusive Shining Ark, Sega has launched something of a crusade against anyone who has uploaded videos of older Shining Series games to YouTube and/or Nico Nico Douga, hitting many uploaders' accounts on both sides of the pond (including popular commentator TotalBiscuit) with DMCA notices and causing a number of uploaders to either pull their videos immediately or even see their accounts being shut down as a result. TotalBiscuit refuses to discuss Sega games until 2017 because of this incident.
  • Tales of Eternia was renamed Tales of Destiny II in North America to avoid copyright conflicts with the creators of (He-Man and the) Masters of the Universenote , and is likely one of the reasons North American gamers didn't receive the real Tales of Destiny 2.
  • Most of the Super Robot Wars games, save for the Original Generations series, will most likely never be seen in the States since the American rights to the various mecha used are owned by far too many different companies. The biggest hurdle in this is Harmony Gold, who has been rabidly protective of "their" Robotech "franchise"note  and its components. Because of this, Super Robot Wars V takes a detour around the hurdle for overseas fans: It still won't be released in the States, but the game does have an official English localization for the benefit of game importers.
      Advertisement:
    • Even then, the series has been affected: Amongst the franchise's Homages to famous mecha anime is the Huckebein series of mechs, which are Gundams in all but name. Eventually Sunrise decided they weren't okay with this, which resulted in Second Original Generations having a scene where every single Huckebein is lined up on the tarmac at an airbase seemingly just so an enemy can blow them all up, and The Federation just decides they aren't going to rebuild them or create any more because...because. The Huckebein Mk-III is subsequently replaced with the Exbein, which is identical except that the head no longer looks like a Gundam's.
  • This is also the case for the Jump Super Stars games, where various Shonen Jump properties are owned by different companies. Sometimes, a different company can hold the manga rights, anime rights, and the merchandising rights, as is the case with Dragon Ball.
  • Having various companies own American and European rights to Tatsunoko series was overcome for Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, as Capcom went through the trouble (and money) to buy all of the rights for every series represented in the game and then some, with the exception of Hakushon Daimaou. This character was removed from the international version as the European copyright holder absolutely refused to sell the rights to Capcom.
    • While the original Japanese-only release of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes had character themes during battles, they were removed in Ultimate All-Stars. This was due to Capcom not being able to get the music rights for the Tatsunoko characters, as their themes were instrumental versions of their respective TV show theme songs. Instead, the stages were given original music themes.
  • The Quest for Glory series was originally named Hero's Quest, but Sierra On-Line had to change the name to avoid potential copyright issues with the makers of the tabletop game Hero Quest. The initial (EGA) release of the game did have that name, though.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 managed to avoid the total Screwed by the Network suffered by Obsidian's previous game Knights of the Old Republic II. It got two full expansions and a premium module, but it was still fairly buggy when Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast sued Atari over license agreement violations. Continuing game updates after that was probably a low priority. It also resulted in the Steam version being pulled, though it has since been rereleased on GOG.com.
  • Don't expect the first Blood Omen to be rereleased on GOG.com any time soon, due to a spectacular case of Executive Meddling-induced legal bridge-burning between Silicon Knights and Crystal Dynamics with Activision as an involved sideline third party.
  • Speaking of Silicon Knights, you probably would want to hold on to your copies of X-Men: Destiny if you bought them before Silicon Knights lost a lawsuit against Epic Games over the latter's Unreal Engine 3 technologyreason . Don't expect to see any fresh copies in any warehouses after 2012, as the court ordered Silicon Knights to eradicate all of the game code for and unsold copies of Too Human, Destiny, and all of their future unreleased projects. Then, to the shock of everyone, Microsoft made Too Human available for free digitally in 2019 on the Xbox Marketplace, as well as including it in the final backward compatibility update for the Xbox One.
  • Thrill Kill was all but completed when its publishers shut it down over fears of parental-group lawsuits. It now exists in a number of pirated copies initially distributed by its irate programmers.
  • The Wii ports of the Humongous Entertainment games are noteworthy — Atari contracted Majesco to port some of the games, who then outsourced it to Mistic Software, who had the SCUMM SDK and every tool they needed to port the games without much hassle. So what did they choose to do? Completely ignore it, and just slap a ScummVM build onto it, which is a GPL licensed virtual machine that happens to be capable of playing Humongous games. Long story short, they failed to comply to the GPL, and the games had to be pulled. Admittedly though, a lot more people were mad at Mistic in this case than the lawyers.
  • The Amiga CD32 was never released in the U.S. due to a patent dispute, which was the final nail in Commodore's coffin.
  • The N.G.O. Superpower SPECTRE from the James Bond franchise had to be renamed OCTOPUS in 007: From Russia with Love due to a legal dispute between MGM/UA and screenwriter Kevin McClory's estate over the film rights to Thunderball. See the Film section for more details.
  • GoldenEye (1997): Much like the Batman show mentioned above, complex licensing issues have kept this game from seeing a rerelease despite its critical and commercial success. The rights, as of 2013, are in a confused mess between Nintendo (the original publisher) and Microsoft (owners of Rare, the original developer), both of whom would most likely never work together due to being rivals in the Console Wars (before 2013, Activision was also involved due to owning the James Bond game license, though they dropped it after how badly 2012's 007 Legends bombed and nobody else has dared pick them up). There's also probably issues with the image rights of the various actors and actresses whose likenesses appear in the game, an issue which had already killed the "All Bonds" mode planned for the game. Fans looking to play the game in its original form are just going to have to keep circulating those cartridges.
    • It eventually got to the point where Activision just said "Screw it" and did the best they could by remaking the game in the Call of Duty engine. Given the differences between Call of Duty and the original, not everyone was pleased. And that game got eventually recalled.
    • This is also one of the factors kept the game from appearing in Rare Replay, a compilation of Rare's most popular console games ported to the Xbox One; Word of God says the other factor being that even if GoldenEye wasn't tangled up in legal limbo, it being a Licensed Game in the first place made it a low priority for the compilation, Rare choosing to showcase the fictional universes that they have created completely on their own as a priority (hence the game's Spiritual Successor Perfect Dark getting in over it).
      • Speaking of Rare Replay, the Wizards and Warriors series, one of Rare's NES-era original properties, is nowhere to be seen in it, due to being published by Acclaim, whose library of games were scattered to the four winds as a result of selling their assets upon their bankruptcy in 2005.
  • Kaiju Combat has the official name of "Colossal Kaiju Combat" due to copyright concerns from Kaijudo.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • When Sonic the Hedgehog CD was released for iOS, Android, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, it came with both Japanese/European and American music. However, the Japanese themes, You Can Do Anything and Cosmic Eternity - Believe in Yourself, had their lyrics removed. This is rumored to be due to the estate of the late Casey Rankin not allowing them to use his contribution to the song.
    • Similarly, legal disputes over the music in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (possibly involving music that Michael Jackson may or may not have contributed) have prevented Sega from rereleasing it since 2011, meaning that it hasn't gotten a Retro Engine remake like the other classic games. There is an alternate soundtrack for the game that removes most of those contributions, but outside of the PC release of the game, they remain unused.
    • The reason the Sonic Advance Trilogy hasn't been released on the Wii U Virtual Console in the US (they are available on it in Japan) is because the Western distribution rights to all three games were owned by the now-defunct THQ, who published the games in the US. It is unclear if Sega will be able to or will bother to get those rights back in the future, though Nordic Games has acquired the THQ trademark and has become THQ Nordic.
    • Since the whole debacle with Archie writer Ken Penders claiming the Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood characters were copying from his works, it's very unlikely that Chronicles will ever recieve a sequel, and that Shade, Ix and the Marauders will ever be seen in another Sonic media again.
  • The wonderful No One Lives Forever is not going to get any kind of rerelease in the foreseeable future, because nobody seems to know who holds the rights to it. The game was originally published by Fox Interactive, which was bought by Vivendi Universal which in turn was eventually acquired by Activision. However, according to Activision's lawyers, they do not currently possess the rights to the game. The developer Monolith isn't any wiser on the subject either.
    • In 2014 Night Dive Studios attempted to sort out the rights mess and get the game re-released. They contacted Activision, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. all (the last one currently owns Monolith). The response from all three was basically "We're not sure about the rights, and we don't think it's worth the expense of digging through our paper archives to make sure, but if you try to do anything with the property, we'll sue."
  • Star Trek Online is an odd duck.
    • Cryptic Studios got permission from Pocket Books to use the Vesta-class and Luna-class from the Star Trek continuation novels at launch, but the licensing was such a hassle they've sworn off directly adapting any further Star Trek Novelverse materials.
    • For many years, players believed that Cryptic Studios was not allowed to use anything from the reboot movies, thus the creation of various expies for ships like the Narada and the U.S.S. Vengeance. However, that changed with the release of the third expansion Agents of Yesterday as many things connected to that universe was brought in. As it turns out, Paramount was fine with it - it was Bad Robot they had to hurdle over. The same can be said about the TOS-related ships as Paramount was not fond of having outdated ships having endgame counterparts. A limited edition run of these kinds of ships were released about a month after Agents of Yesterday was released as part of a promo.
  • In December 2013, Marvel, after having their licensing contracts with Activision expire, made Activision stop all digital and physical distribution of the Deadpool video game (only six months after release, even!) and all of their X-Men and non-movie Spider-Man gamesnote  and Capcom the same for the Marvel vs. Capcom series and its DLC, notably including Marvel vs. Capcom 3 DLC playable characters Jill Valentine (who's not a Marvel character) and Shuma-Gorath; since Capcom did not have the foresight to release those two on disc, their playable status in Tournament Play in now in jeopardy due to the Fighting Game Community's MO on non-universally available characters such as console exclusives and delisted DLC being to simply ban them in the name of match-up knowledge fairness.
    • As of December 2016, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Deadpool, and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance were rereleased for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam including the aforementioned DLC.
  • Barbie won't get her own Virtual Console releases due to a legal settlement between Mattel and Ubisoft.
  • American Girl won't be seeing the light of day as THQ went bankrupt in 2013, thus shelving the rest of the American Girls Collection video games due to Mattel owning the trademark.
  • Star Trek: 25th Anniversary had just a minor legal hurdle to overcome. The game featured the character Harry Mudd, including a close-up of his face for Enterprise viewscreen communications, which was of good likeness. At the time the game was made Paramount had a policy that whenever the physical likeness of a character from a Star Trek TV series was used in a licensed work, the original actor or their estate would have to give their consent. Unfortunately, the actor who played Harry Mudd passed away just as the game was ready to be released, and they had not secured his permission yet. Rather than delay the release of the game and wait for his inheritance to be settled and obtain permission from his estate, the developers simply changed the close-up into a shadowy silhouette of Mudd.
  • It's speculated that NBA Jam Extreme omitted Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal because those players had contracts with competing game studios. Contractual obligations from the three acting in movies that year (Kazaam for O'Neal and Space Jam for Jordan and Barkley) might have also played a role.
    • That was at least true for Jordan; he later appeared in the Space Jam tie-in game by Extreme publisher Acclaim.
    • Competitor Midway Games failed to dodge the same bullet Acclaim was hit with in their answer to Extreme, NBA Hangtime. In addition to the aforementioned players omitted from Extreme, Muggsy Bogues got written off of Hangtime's roster due to his contractual obligations appearing in Space Jamnote . However, three other players that appeared in the film (Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson and Shawn Bradley) were exempted from those obligations, and were allowed to appear in both Hangtime and Extreme.
  • Because Fuji Television holds the rights to Doki Doki Panic, it could be a long time before we see the game on Wii U or 3DS Virtual Console. Although the characters were replaced with Mario characters in Super Mario Bros. 2.
  • Hasbro, who holds the licensing rights to World Games and California Games, didn't get to release them as Virtual Console games for Wii, due to a copyright claim by Epyx.
  • The Tiny Toon Adventures video games from Konami. The games and their codes are owned by Konami, but Tiny Toon Adventures is owned by Warner Bros., who have their own video game publishing arm. Because of this, it's unlikely we'll see these games in the Virtual Console service any time soon. Konami's Xiaolin Showdown are also in this same limbo. And after the expiry of the license in 2016, the remake of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 has fallen back into this trope.
  • Disney has a bad habit with the above problem. To name a few:
    • None of Capcom's NES Disney games (including Mickey Mousecapadenote  and both DuckTales games) have been released on the Virtual Console service for Wii or Wii U.note  Additionally, while a "remastered" version of the first DuckTales game has been released, Capcom have stated the deal was just for this game only, and not the original version. In mid 2019, the license for Duck Tales ran out and Capcom delisted the game on Steam. If you didn't buy the game before the delisting, then your only other option is to buy a secondhand physical copy for consoles.
    • As of 2017, the five Capcom NES games received a Compilation Re-release in the form of The Disney Afternoon Collection.
    • Sega's Illusion series starring Mickey Mouse has only seen one reissue: the Genesis Castle of Illusion, which was released only for PlayStation 3 users who pre-ordered the 2013 remake before its release. As for the Master System/Game Gear Castle of Illusions and the other installments, they haven't been reissued at all. And that 2013 remake? No longer available to purchase since September 2016 because Sega lost Disney's license; wouldn't be so hard to acquire a copy if not for the little sticking point that it is a digital-only release. That said, it was quietly returned to all platforms a year later.
    • Another Sega/Disney venture, Quackshot: Starring Donald Duck, hasn't been reissued at all, both Genesis and Saturn versions, on any other platform despite otherwise positive reception. The Genesis version received at least one reissue, being bundled with Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse in 1996 for a collection titled The Disney Collection for Genesis, but that was it. The Saturn version was released exclusively in Japan and was never reissued.
    • Sony Imagesoft's Mickey Mania, for Sega Genesis, Sega CD and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. While Disney is undoubtedly a factor in the latter three versions' inability to get re-released, the mere presence of a PlayStation port is the major obstacle keeping them from ever getting on the Virtual Console service. That later PlayStation port, titled Mickey's Wild Adventure, got released to the PlayStation Network... for Europe and Australia in 2012. Worse still, both Sony and developer Traveler's Tales (which is now owned by Disney rival Warner Bros.) stated that the deal was for that port only, and not the others.
    • Thanks to the acrimonious relationship between Disney and Nintendo, the Mickey Mouse games for the Game & Watch were exiled from the Game and Watch Gallery series of ports of Game & Watch games for Game Boy, and it's unlikely they will resurface anytime soon because of Disney's refusal to license the characters to Nintendo.
    • Disney got caught on the receiving end of this trope, however, with the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs over Disney's adaptation of Tarzan, not allowing Disney to make any subsequent references to the movie. The result is that Kingdom Hearts I is the only Kingdom Hearts game to have a world themed on that movie. This can be seen with Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, which brought back every world in the first game—except for Deep Jungle, Tarzan's world.
  • The Game Boy game Q-Billion is unlikely to get a release on Virtual Console anytime soon. Aruze had owned the Q-Billion copyright after it acquired Q-Billion developer Seta. After Seta shut down operations, Aruze neglected to renew the copyright, and thus, Aruze no longer legally owns the game and they're not sure who does.
  • The infamous Fallout legal dispute involving Interplay Entertainment and Bethesda led to Interplay's Fallout games being pulled from all online stores on January 1st, 2014, notably Steam and Good Old Games. Bethesda, who now owns the Fallout franchise and all installments as part of the legal settlement with Interplay, stated they hoped to bring the titles back to the stores, and did so in the case of Steam later that year. They later returned to GOG.com in August 2015.
  • Love Nintendo's Popeye? Want to see it on the Virtual Console? Arcade or NES? Too bad, because King Features Syndicate/Hearst refuses to allow them to. To sum it up, King Features is really, really touchy on their products when it comes to licensing, a behavior that is dated back to its establishment, and usually it's a miracle when a deal is somehow reached to have a particular licensed King Features media reissuednote . Namco received a license from King Features and Nintendo to develop a mobile phone (not a smartphone) version of the game, but so far, that's it.
    • The Game & Watch version doesn't fare any better. Being a licensed property, it was excluded from appearing in the Game & Watch Gallery series due to failure to secure the rights from King Features. The Mickey Mouse games (licensed by Disney) also suffered this fate.
  • If you think Popeye had it bad, the video game adaptation of Phantom 2040 didn't fare any better. Because King Features owns The Phantom character, don't expect to see either Sunsoft's SNES port or Illusions Gaming's Sega Genesis port on the Virtual Console anytime soon.
  • Ironically, Nintendo itself was found guilty of violating the copyright for the original arcade version of Donkey Kong, and therefore cannot sell the original game for its consoles — only ports and re-creations. To briefly summarize, the arcade game was written by a company named Ikegami Tsushinki on assignment, but the contract did not include ownership rights to the code. When Donkey Kong became a hit, Nintendo tried to make more boards themselves, and got sued for copyright violation as a result. A detailed article is available here. The arcade version was finally released for the Nintendo Switch as part of Hamster's Arcade Archives series in 2018.
  • On the subject of Donkey Kong, it's widely speculated (though never outright confirmed) that this is the reason it took so long for Donkey Kong 64 to see a Virtual Console release, as it featured Rareware's very first game, Jetpac for the ZX Spectrum, as an Embedded Precursor. The rights to the Donkey Kong characters are owned by Nintendo, but Jetpac is owned by Microsoft. Simply dummying it out wasn't an option either, since it must be played through to obtain a collectible item that is required to complete the game. Apparently a deal was finally struck between both parties, as the game was released for the Wii U Virtual Console in April 2015, retaining everything from the original release.

    Strangely enough, Donkey Kong 64 also had the original Donkey Kong featured in the game as an Embedded Precursor as well—and contrary to what one might expect, this version of the game was the aforementioned arcade version, rather than the NES version published by Nintendo themselves. And just like Jetpac, Donkey Kong also had to be played through in order to collect an item integral towards beating the game proper, nixing the notion of dummying that game out as well. If both games were the main stumbling block to the game's release, then it's honestly a miracle the game saw the light of day again, considering that Nintendo seemingly had to clear two separate copyright issues (one of which was owned by a rival in the Console Wars) in order to secure a Virtual Console re-release.
  • The reason why it took forever for a new Guilty Gear game to come out since Overture was because Sega owned much of the franchise since 2004, as well as a legal dispute between Arc System Works (the production studio) and Sega (who owns Sammy Entertainment's video game catalogue), until Arc System Works regained the entirety of the franchise in 2011.
  • Atarinote  does not hold the rights to the post-1984 Atari arcade catalog from the Atari Games division of the original company, and as such, is unable to reissue any game from that division to other platforms. Instead, the rights to that catalog are owned by Warner Bros., whose parent company retained control of the arcade division of Atari, Inc. following its breakup from the console division, which later became known as Atari Corporation. Thus, unlike the pre-1984 arcade catalog and entire console archive retained by (the current) Atari, the Atari Games catalog is rarely reissued to other platforms, likely due to Warner's historical apathy on Atari. Making matters worse is that the games are reissued under the Midway Games bannernote , instead of Atari Games, due to Warner not wanting to pay for trademark fees to use the "Atari" name.
    • Atari sued to block the PC, PlayStation 4 and Android versions of TxK, claiming that the game infringes on Tempest. Jeff Minter, the creator of the game, also created Tempest 2000. The decision has not been particularly well-received in the video game community. Atari is also trying to get the game removed from the PlayStation Store and make Mintner sign an agreement that he won't make a Tempest-inspired game again.
    • Atari did the same with Haunted House Tycoon, in which they claim that it infringes off of their game. They certainly were not the first company to make a "Haunted House" style gamenote , and Atari's remake Haunted House: Cryptic Graves fared poorly.
  • Rare Replay, a Compilation Re-release for Xbox One commemorating Rare's 30th anniversary, is supposed to include dozens of Rare's most popular video games throughout its history. However, a handful of games were not allowed to be included. A few examples: Donkey Kong 64, all three Donkey Kong Country games, GoldenEye (1997), Diddy Kong Racing, Star Fox Adventures and Mickey's Speedway USA. The first seven are due to Nintendo owning the games outright (in the case of Donkey Kong) or partially owning them (as is the case with GoldenEye, which is also a movie license), while the eighth is due to Disney owning the characters... and even if this trope didn't come into play, all eight games still wouldn't have made the cut due to not belonging to fictional universes 100% created by Rare, as per the internal company goal for the compilation; their chances of inclusions were damned either way. Same goes for California Games, World Games and Wizards & Warriors.
  • Half of the Sabrina: The Animated Series and Sabrina the Teenage Witch games aren't going to be on the Virtual Console, Windows Store (Windows), App Store (Mac), Steam and PlayStation Store due to Archie Comics refusing to license the characters.
  • Harvest Moon is a bit of a Cult Classic, but it's popular enough to receive shelf space in most major retailers. The original Japanese version of the game, known as Bokujou Monogatari (Ranch Story), is created by Marvelous and was localized by Natsume for many years. Marvelous eventually partnered with XSEED Games for their translation, to which Natsume basically said, "Fine, but you can't have the name, and we're gonna make our own game with the name!" This is how we now have Dueling Games: Story of Seasons, the continuation of Bokujou Monogatari under a new name, and Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley, the continuation of the Harvest Moon name without the original designers. Naturally, when retailers like Walmart and Best Buy decided which games to stock, they went by name alone, stocking the "new and unproven" game because the brand was successful and passing over the "tried and true" series because it had an unfamiliar title.
  • The Steam version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was untouched for years until a sudden update in 2014 was released out of the blue. The patch did nothing but remove several songs from the game whose licenses expired and since Rockstar didn't want to spend money to renew the licenses (which were likely more expensive now than they were years ago), the songs got cut to prevent a lawsuit. Fans of the game were extremely upset that their favorite songs were cut out and also point out that the Steam version of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City went through a similar process, but Rockstar had simply stopped selling the original version of the game and added a new version without the copyrighted songs so that owners of the original version could still download and play the version they purchased. Grand Theft Auto IV had also gone through a similar change where the digital versions were replaced with updated versions that had songs under the expired licenses removed.
  • This trope is likely the reason why the NES versions of Kung Fu Master (called simply "Kung Fu" in North America) and 10-Yard Fight won't ever see re-releases, unless Irem (the original creators) and Nintendo (who made the NES versions) can work out some kind of deal. Of course, this doesn't stop Irem from re-releasing the original arcade versions since they made and released them themselves.
  • Saban Brands had a hissy fit over Chroma Squad due to its heavy Power Rangers leaning (though it's probably safe to say it was more leaning towards Super Sentai instead). In the end, the game was released with a small tagline proclaiming it's "Based On Saban's Power Rangers".
    • Speaking of which, all the pre-Hasbro era Power Rangers video games are nearly impossible to re-release as most of them (namily form the Zordon Era both Mighty Morphin and post Mighty Morphin Zordon Era along with New Saban Era) are all made and owned by Bandai (later named Bandai Namco) and even had Sega co-published the Sega systems ones due to Nintendo 3rd party exclusivities at the time frame. And all of the Post-Zordon Era/Disney Era Power Rangers video games where done by THQ or later Disney Interactive Studios. As you can imagine this complicated licensing of the video game code rights and the era rights makes it difficult indeed.
  • EA's NCAA Football is in indefinite limbo as of 2013; the NCAA strictly forbids athletes from receiving any financial compensation for their participation in college sports, including endorsements and licensing. This meant that all the players in the games could not be referred to by name (but stats, age, and team was okay). In response to legal disputes from former players over demands for royalties for their apparent portrayal, the NCAA ended its licensing agreement with EA. This only meant that they couldn't brand it as an NCAA game (in fact, the first two were called Bill Walsh College Football instead), as EA still had license agreements for team names and other elements from unrelated parties (such as individual conferences and the Collegiate Licensing Company, while ESPN had tie-ins for integration of its talent and television presentation in the games). However, the conferences followed suit and pulled their license as well, essentially shutting down the series.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was released on the Wii's Virtual Console for 600 Wii Points ($6) instead of the usual 500 points due to the game having to be licensed. When the license ran out, Konami didn't bother to renew it and the game was removed as a result. Didn't buy the game before then? Too bad, it's now gone for good.
  • Pokémon:
    • Starting with the Generation III games, references to gambling started to be phased out of the series with the English versions of Pokémon: FireRed and LeafGreen renaming the Gambler trainer class to Gamer and then to PI in the English versions of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. It was then followed up with removing the slot machines from the European releases of Pokémon Platinum and after that the card flip and slot machines were replaced with Voltorb Flip in all non-Japanese releases of Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver. These were all made in response to PEGI (Pan European Game Information) tightening their regulations on gambling in video games. All of this came to its logical conclusion in Generation V with Unova being the first region in the main Pokémon series to lack any sort of Game Corner in any version of the games set in that region.
    • Pokémon X and Y were released early in Italy and Canada, which resulted in leaks that caused Nintendo to crack down hard on the leakers and the stores that broke street date on the games.
  • Super Mario RPG introduced Geno, a doll given life that can kick ass with his weapons and magic. Because the character was created under Squaresoft's thumb at the time (now known as Square-Enix), the Geno character belongs to them instead of Nintendo, which also means that Geno's chance of appearing in a future Nintendo game is practically nonexistent. However, Geno did appear as a cameo in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (the credits explicitly attributing his ownership to Square-Enix) and a Mii outfit in the Wii U and 3DS version of Super Smash Bros. is based on Geno's design. note 
  • For years, Electronic Arts had a deal with the automaker Porsche giving them exclusive rights to feature their cars in their games. If you were a fan of a racing game not made by EA and wanted to drive a Porsche, you had to either settle for cars built by Ruf (a German automaker that uses Porsche chassis as the bases of its own cars, which are visually almost identical but seen as legally distinct), or wait for expensive DLC. The deal finally expired in 2016, largely because Porsche didn't want to renew it, seeing it as having hurt their brand awareness, in middle of Volkswagen Group's diesel emissions scandal that impacted themnote .
  • The developers of Friday the 13th: The Game had to scuttle all plans for future updates and DLC effective June 2018, as a side effect of the then-ongoing legal battle between Victor Miller and the Manny Company over the rights to the entire Friday the 13th franchise. This included updates that they were already working on at the time and showing in previews, most notably a Jason X-themed update featuring that film's Uber-Jason as a playable character and a new map in the Grendel spaceship. Given that Friday the 13th: The Game was a multiplayer-focused title, being unable to release any updates for an extended period of time (however long the lawsuit takes) was effectively a kiss of death, with Gun Media announcing shortly after that they would stop all work on the game. (As a side note, the dispute between Miller and the Manny Company is also the reason why a new Friday the 13th movie has been stuck in Development Hell.)
  • A more malicious example of this trope involves the sad fate of the NFL 2K series. To put it bluntly, not only was Visual Concepts' ESPN NFL 2K5 acclaimed by many critics as a better American Football game than EA Sports' competing Madden NFL 2005 (to this day, it's still recognized as one of the best ever made in the genre), but Sega released the title three weeks before Madden and sold it for only $19.99 as opposed to the $49.99 that was customary for AAA video games (including Madden) during the Sixth Generation. EA's response to the stiffening competition was to sign a deal in January 2005 with the National Football League that granted them the exclusive rights to use the NFL license until 2010 (a deal that would be renewed twice in 2010 and 2015), effectively making Madden the only game in town for football fans unless they were into college football or were willing to play games with fictional teams and leagues (such as Blitz: The League, Backbreaker, and Visual Concepts' own All-Pro Football 2K8, intended as a Spiritual Successor). Sega and Visual Concepts were forced to halt all development on new NFL 2K games, as were Sony and 989 Sports with the NFL GameDay series, Microsoft Studios with NFL Fever, and Midway Games with NFL Blitz, and Sega sold Visual Concepts to Take-Two Interactive later that year. Football fans were not pleased, especially since the deal is often blamed for the growing sequelitis that Madden succumbed to in later years, with all its competition having been killed.
  • On December 31st 2010, EA stopped production of The Battle for Middle-Earth CDs and shut down the official online servers because their Lord of the Rings video game license expired. This has made the games go up to ridiculous prices online and forced fans to Keep Circulating the Tapes in order to make any sort of headway into preserving the games. It also ensures that EA cannot offer the games on their Origin Digital Distribution service either.
  • Take-Two, the new owner of Visual Concepts, took revenge on EA when it bought the exclusive rights to use the Major League Baseball license in multiplatform games, forcing EA to cancel its MVP Baseball series after its well-received 2005 installment. This left the Major League Baseball 2K games as the only game in town for those who didn't own a PlayStation 3 and thus couldn't play Sony's MLB: The Show (which, as a console exclusive, wasn't covered by the deal) — and after MLB 2K, much like Madden, succumbed to sequelitis and eventually saw MLB 2K13 kill the series, owning a Sony console was the only option for people who wanted a pure simulation baseball game. (The relaunched RBI Baseball, published by MLB themselves, is more of an arcade-sim hybrid.)
  • In a variant, the original soundtrack for River City Ransom: Underground was replaced with new music in late 2017 after co-composer Alex Mauer had the game taken down from Steam twice over a copyright dispute. The original music by Mauer, Cheap Dinosaurs and Disasterpeace can be found on the album Ram Son.
  • The Sega Genesis was to be the first console to receive a VR headset accessory. In a positive spin on this trope, Sega's lawyers put a kibosh on the plan after it was found that the beta testers were getting motion sickness due to the console not being powerful enough and was lagging.
  • When Cloud was released as a DLC character for Super Smash Bros. 4, his voice was in Japanese and it was still the same case for his inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. This was due to Cloud's original English voice actor, Steve Burton, being in a union while Nintendo used non-union voice actors. Since Steve Burton is in a union, his name has to appear in the credits, thus he can't get around it by going under a different name or uncredited. Not only that, but Burton's contract allegedly also states that only he is (or was) allowed to voice the character for English dubbing, which means that no one else could voice Cloud for Ultimate. Ergo, union contracts and Nintendo's choice of using non-union talent meant Cloud was stuck using his Japanese voice actor while everyone else used their English voice actors.
  • Nintendo is widely known for taking down websites that host ROM dumps of Nintendo's games since it's considered piracy. Therefore, any website that lets anyone download Nintendo games will be taken down at some point. There are two notable cases:
    • A couple ran a ROM dump website that not only let people download Nintendo games, but they also sold modded NES and SNES Classics that had pirated ROMs on them. Nintendo sued the couple for damages, but both sides settled out of court on the agreement that the couple stop selling the modded consoles and to never distribute the games ever again.
    • Soulja Boy openly announced he was selling a video game console that had a ton of games on them. Said games were nothing but pirated copies of Nintendo games. While a few people did manage to purchase the console, Nintendo immediately took action and the console can no longer be found on Soulja's website. Nintendo also claimed the SouljaGame domain, which now redirects to Nintendo's DS website. With bootleg PS Vitas with pirated copies of games now being sold by the same person, it's only a matter of time before we see history repeat itself.
  • Enjoy the classic NFL Blitz series from Midway Games over the Blitz games developed by Electronic Arts? Want to play those games on modern platforms? Well, too bad, because when EA bought the Blitz franchise from Midway, it didn't include any of the previously released games (including the non-NFL branded Blitz: The League series) which were sold to Warner Bros. along with the rest of the Midway library. This means that three different parties all have an interest in the Blitz franchise (EA, WB and the NFL), so there won't be any reissues of Midway's Blitz games anytime soon. Fans will just have to keep those cartridges and discs circulating.
  • The beloved Atari Star Wars arcade games (not counting ports) were only reissued once on the GameCube game Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike as unlockable extras, and they only got there thanks to LucasArts securing the rights from the games' owner, Midway Games. Since then, LucasArts parent Lucasfilm has been bought by Disney, while Midway's game library (including the Atari Star Wars series) is now owned by Warner Bros., so fans who are eager to get their hands on the original arcade games will have track down either the original cabinets or find a copy of Rogue Squadron III since Disney and WB will have cold feet in regards to legally reissuing the games again.
  • Two examples from Gran Turismo Sport, as detailed in this article from GTPlanet.
    • Licensing fees are the reason why the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, despite its storied place in the world of motorsport, took until October 2019 to show up in GT Sport, even though it had appeared in GT5 and GT6. Short version: the licensing fees for the circuit are anywhere from two to three times higher than those for other racing circuits, and Sony thought that not only was the money better spent on acquiring the rights to multiple other tracks, but that paying the licensing fees for Spa-Francorchamps would set a precedent and cause the owners of other tracks to start raising their fees in response. Reportedly, Polyphony Digital had already fully modeled Spa-Francorchamps for use in the game months before they added it in full, and was simply waiting for the licensing agreement to give them the green light. The track was even previewed at the FIA Gran Turismo Championships World Tour 2019 in New York.
    • A similar issue is also why GT Sport does not feature cars by Lotus. Several Lotus cars had already been modeled for the game, only for the company to discover that, thanks to a rolling contract and the delay in GT Sport's release, they were receiving less money than other automakers, causing them to pull out of the game. The fictional F1500T-A that came in a game update appears to be a Suspiciously Similar Substitute of the Lotus 97T, which appeared in GT6.
  • GTPlanet has speculated on whether Sony and Polyphony Digital of Gran Turismo might have an exclusivity agreement with Toyota given the automaker's very robust representation in GT Sport versus its lack of representation in other contemporary racing games, complete with comparisons to the EA/Porsche agreement (including but not limited to premiering the new GR Supra in video games, even attending an one-off e-sports series for said car). This might be the reason why many recent racing games starting in 2017 doesn't include any cars from Toyota and Lexus, such as Forza Motorsport 7, Forza Horizon 4 (save for cars modified by Arctic Trucks and racing cars that are made in North America, like the T100 Baja Truck), and Need for Speed Payback.
    • Apparently, it doesn't affect any Asian publishers and/or developers. Recent arcade game cabinets such as Initial D Arcade Stage Zero and Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 6 still have cars from Toyota. Even a mobile game developed and published in China named Miracing includes two Toyota cars. Project CARS 2 seems to benefit from a loophole (while the Toyota GT86 is their only road car that appeared in the game, it includes plenty of their racing cars that doesn't appeared in FM7, like the GT-One and TS040), since while the developer (Slightly Mad Studios) is from UK, the publisher is Bandai Namco Entertainment, a Japanese company.
    • Toyota UK does confirm that currently they don't give their license to any games besides GT Sport on their Twitter account. However, Sony hasn't been confirmed about this situation. Toyota UK has also claimed, in a now-deleted tweet from 2019, that their cars weren't in recent Need for Speed games specifically because that series promoted illegal street racing, though this doesn't explain the aforementioned Initial D and Wangan Midnight games. (The official Need for Speed Twitter account replied with "pfft nerds".)
  • Similar licensing issues are also why Forza Horizon 4 initially shipped without any cars from Mitsubishi, which eventually came into the game through DLC for free.
  • This is essentially why there hasn't been a Madou Monogatari game using the original cast of characters since 2000. SEGA currently own the rights to Madou's More Popular Spin-Off Puyo Puyo, as well as the rights to the characters from it, since many of said characters are also in Puyo games. However, D4 Enterprise own the rights to Madou Monogatari itself, and... basically nothing in said series, leaving them unable to make any new Madou games that have anything to do with the series as it was pre-rights issues beyond the title and genre.
  • Retro FPS Ion Maiden had to be renamed to Ion Fury, due to a lawsuit by Iron Maiden. Yeah, those Iron Maiden. It should be noted that some of the claims made by Iron Maiden's lawyers put the suit into frivolous territory, such as claiming the main character of the game is a gender-swapped version of Steve Harris (the game is a Bombshell prequel, so it has the same protagonist), that the skull bomb logo resembles the Eddie mascot, and that the gameplay of Ion Maiden is a copy of that of Iron Maiden's Legacy of the Beast (a mobile RPG).
  • This can go to about any Unlicensed Game that is based off a property, especially if they didn't even get the rights to use the property in the first place. With this in mind, good luck seeing stuff like Somari, Sonic Jam 6, and Pesterminator: The Western Exterminator, among others.
  • In addition to the Chariots of Fire problem,note  Track & Field can't be re-released in Japan under its original name of Hyper Olympic due to the word "Olympic" being trademarked by the International Olympic Committee. Because of this, the Arcade Archives release uses the international name. This also applies to the Arcade Archives release of its sequel Hyper Sports (Hyper Olympic '84) as well.
  • Games that use licensed music are a nightmare for gamers that use YouTube to generate revenue for their Let's Play or other game related content. Any copyrighted song that's found in a video immediately gets demonetized and the money goes towards the company/person that owns the copyright. This can also happen if someone uses footage from a trailer.
  • DMA Design was sued by Pixar because the CGi unicycles in Uniracers closely resembled the unicycle from Pixar's short film, Red's Dream. Pixar eventually won the lawsuit and halted further production of Uniracers cartridges.
  • The Survival Horror game ObsCure was a Genre Throwback to '90s teen horror movies, and originally had Sum 41's "Still Waiting" and Span's "Baby's Come Back" in its soundtrack as a nod to those films' "hip" soundtracks. The 2014 rerelease on Steam, however, had to swap them out for similar-sounding generic Pop Punk tracks, likely because the rights had expired.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report