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AtGames and Ms. Pac-Man Rights

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Out of all gaming websites I've ever visited, this is the only one I've ever seen that frequently defends the horrible company AtGames. So I thought it would be nice if everyone took a look at this page:

 

Pac-Man Licensing Fiasco 2: The New Adventures

 

In short terms, AtGames has bought the Ms. Pac-Man royalty rights from General Computer Corporation. They didn't speak to Namco about this beforehand, and are currently in a lawsuit with them because of it (among many other shady things). Depending on how this lawsuit goes, this could lead to Ms. Pac-Man never being released again, which is completely AtGames' fault.

 

If you at all care about video games, STOP SUPPORTING THIS COMPANY. Do not buy the Atari Flashback 22+ XL or whatever this Christmas. Root for Namco to win this case, and get the rights back to a game they should've owned for the past 13 years. I hope this lawsuit destroys AtGames once and for all, and you should too.

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Not yet choosing sides in this latest slugfest, but I do have to comment on this...

 

42 minutes ago, forgotusername said:

Out of all gaming websites I've ever visited, this is the only one I've ever seen that frequently defends the horrible company AtGames.

 

You haven't read too many threads on the Flashbacks here, have you?

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The only Flashback console I own is the 2... back when it was still released by Atari. I do have a Flashback portable, but I bought that used for $7.  The dpad/joystick thing (it's not really either) just plain sucks. I will never give Atgames money.

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I'm one of the most pro-AtGames people on AA, and my view of them is essentially "They're alright for what they are, I guess."

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Sometimes the utility overrides any moral objections. I love having a portable system that plays atari games, and it didn't cost that much; it's not perfect, but it's been an exceptional value for me.

I have been turned off by things MANY companies have done to succeed in the market, but I still buy their products if I want them. If it's really a bad situation, I have faith that the legal system will usually eventually work things out, which can include penalties and/or remedies.

Also, I have SO many different versions of Ms. Pac-Man... spare me the tears for theft of the IP on THAT game.

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Remember, Ms. pacman was a hack of Pacman.  Namco always owned copyrights on Pacman.  GCC owns the copyrights of the hack and there were agreements between the two companies as well as Midway.  If Namco were to publish Ms Pacman, the agreement outlines royalties to GCC under certain conditions.  However a standalone console does not meet the conditions and GCC gets screwed out of royalties.  If that GCC/Namco agreement which dates back to 1983 expired than GCC gets control of their code back from Namco.  So, if that's the case, and you wanted to publish arcade Ms. Pacman you would need permission from both GCC and Namco.  Maybe Atgames licensed only the portion from GCC and didn't realise there was a Namco portion.

Edited by mr_me

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3 minutes ago, mr_me said:

Remember, Ms. pacman was a hack of Pacman.  Namco always owned copyrights on Pacman.  GCC owns the copyrights of the hack and there were agreements between the two companies.  If Namco were to publish Ms Pacman, the agreement outlines royalties to GCC under certain conditions.  However a standalone console does not meet the conditions and GCC gets screwed out of royalties.  If that GCC/Namco agreement which dates back to 1983 expired than GCC gets control of their code back from Namco.  So, if that's the case, and you wanted to publish arcade Ms. Pacman you would need permission from both GCC and Namco.  Maybe Atgames licensed only the portion from GCC and didn't realise there was a Namco portion.

GCC and Namco made a new agreement in 2008.

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Okay, so the 1983 agreement was 25 years.  So if the 2008 agreement expires and Namco or anyone else wants to publish arcade Ms. Pacman they would need permssion from GCC (as well as Namco).

Edited by mr_me

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I'm pretty sure there's more to this story. Buying rights is not STEALING, all caps or not.
 

In any case, this isn't a football game, and rooting for sides isn't going to change the outcome.
 

AtGames puts out value priced toys with licenses I like, and Namco Bandai is a fine retro brand. I've spent lots of money with both of them and I'm sure they'll work this out quickly enough. 

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We all know that infringing someone's copyrights is not stealing.  But if you do copy someone else's properties or use their trademarks without permission you might owe them some money.

 

Their colecovision flashback is an example where Atgames aquired rights, didn't care who sold them the rights, legitimate or not.  What has Atgames done with ms pacman so far? Have they promoted a ms pacman product of any kind?

Edited by mr_me

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1 hour ago, fiddlepaddle said:

Sometimes the utility overrides any moral objections. I love having a portable system that plays atari games, and it didn't cost that much; it's not perfect, but it's been an exceptional value for me.

I have been turned off by things MANY companies have done to succeed in the market, but I still buy their products if I want them. If it's really a bad situation, I have faith that the legal system will usually eventually work things out, which can include penalties and/or remedies.

Also, I have SO many different versions of Ms. Pac-Man... spare me the tears for theft of the IP on THAT game.

Have you considered a softmodded PSP? I have one and it has a pretty good 2600 and 7800 emulator along with several others.

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1 hour ago, Flojomojo said:

I'm pretty sure there's more to this story. Buying rights is not STEALING, all caps or not.
 

In any case, this isn't a football game, and rooting for sides isn't going to change the outcome.
 

AtGames puts out value priced toys with licenses I like, and Namco Bandai is a fine retro brand. I've spent lots of money with both of them and I'm sure they'll work this out quickly enough. 

 

Yeah Namco thought they had a lock on buying out GCC and they got sniped. They're sore. I think they're laying it on a bit thick as one tends to do in the opening volley of a lawsuit but two things do make me question AtGames judgment. 

 

First AtGames had a licensing deal with Namco already. Those things carry NDAs maybe non-competes so there's probably some provision in that license about not using privileged info to muscle in on their business. Swooping in and sniping a deal they probably knew was in progress probably counts as leveraging privileged info. Though to be fair if that were the case I would've expected the suit to say so.

 

Second, to be practical, it doesn't seem smart to be making a move that pisses off your new partner-in-ownership that you need to make any money off the thing you just bought.

 

So in both cases running afoul of Namco won't do AtGames any favors. Namco can just render their license worthless out of spite by vetoing every possible use. So ... what was AtGames thinking? Were they just hoping Namco would see the dollar signs from their backroom labors and deception and all would be forgiven?

 

Edit: mulling it some more, though, I could see a twisted logic to AtGame's move. If they've been told since 2012 "we can't give you Ms. Pac Man. The deal with GCC makes it complicated" AtGames might just say to themselves "well we'll buy out GCC and remove that obstacle." They probably see themselves as heros. Not realizing they just torpedoed Namco's own attempt to fix the problem.

Edited by JaqenHghar

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44 minutes ago, mr_me said:

What has Atgames done with ms pacman so far? Have they promoted a ms pacman product of any kind?

They were going to release some stupid mini arcade of Ms. Pac-Man (Arcade1UP-ish). Namco has been saying “no” to it for literal years, so AtGames bought GCC’s royalties, directly before Namco was about to finally settle things with GCC. I don’t understand what logical outcome they thought would happen with that, other than Namco never acknowledging Ms. Pac again...

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2 hours ago, fiddlepaddle said:

Also, I have SO many different versions of Ms. Pac-Man... spare me the tears for theft of the IP on THAT game.

There have been very few Ms. Pac-Man releases recently. It wasn’t on the Wii, DS, 3DS, and will likely never be on the Switch. It WAS on the Wii U, but it was the sub-par GBA version. Would you rather play it on one of THOSE systems, or some poorly-emulated AtGames mess? Because the latter option will be all you’ll ever see now, if even.

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AtGames published the excellent Code Mystics project, the Atari Flashback collection on Xbone, PS4, Switch and Vita. They're not the turd burglars you seem to think they are. 
 

There's a fine version of Ms Pac on Xbone (xb360 arcade version), and the PS4. It's not some rare, seldom seen thing. 

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What I'm curious about is if or how this affects Crazy Otto's likelihood of finally seeing a release.

 

(Yes, I remember all the crap surrounding the botched attempt to do that a few years back; hopefully, this may be able to overturn some of the reservations associated with that.)

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I've played the xbox arcade version on my xbox 360. Also, these people are suing each other all the time. Companies like Namco Bandai pull games from console's online stores frequently because they have a riff with a developer and don't want them getting royalties anymore and screw us out of the opportunity to buy the games out of spite for the developers. None of the publishing companies smell like roses.

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From what I can find, Ms pacman was last available in 2016 on xbox one, ps4, windows, download only.  Is it still avialable?

 

Crazy otto requires namco's pacman to run.  Should be the same game as ms pacman.  Don't see namco officially allowing it.  Are the crazy otto roms available for emulation?

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6 hours ago, mr_me said:

Crazy otto requires namco's pacman to run.  Should be the same game as ms pacman.

 

It's almost entirely the same.  Think of it as a development / location test version of Ms. Pac-Man and you'll be pretty much on the money.

 

6 hours ago, mr_me said:

Don't see namco officially allowing it.  Are the crazy otto roms available for emulation?

 

Namco (to the best of my knowledge) never owned the rights to Crazy Otto; they didn't develop it.  It was designed to be an add-on to existing Pac-Man PCBs, so could conceivably be distributed as a child set without the Namco-derived parent ROMs.

 

The ROMs are preserved but not distributed at this time.

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7 hours ago, mr_me said:

From what I can find, Ms pacman was last available in 2016 on xbox one, ps4, windows, download only.  Is it still avialable?

I have it on my Xbone via backwards compatibility. Here it is in the store for $5. https://marketplace.xbox.com/en-us/Product/MSPAC-MAN/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d80258410837

 

The PS4 version is $4. https://store.playstation.com/en-us/product/UP0700-CUSA03957_00-MSPACMAN00000000

 

It's probably on some older disc compilations, too. 
 

The iPhone version was updated a month ago. It's under the Bandai NAMCO publisher name. 
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/ms-pac-man/id284736660

 

Android version is same story. 
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.NamcoNetworks.MsPacMan&hl=en_US

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This is one of those cases for moral piracy in my view along with the original Donkey Kong and a number of others. If these clowns can't get their collective acts together to license these things on the open market to anyone on fixed terms without exclusive rights holders or legal entanglements, they don't deserve to make anything from them anyway.

 

All these outfits are bending over backwards and twisting copyright laws to restrict access to content consumers have purchased time and time again just so they can milk another few bucks out of it through market manipulation. If they won't do the reasonable thing and standardize non-exclusive license terms for all these type items, regardless of release platform, they should get them incorporated into ASCAP and BMI to handle just like music licensing. The smart thing to do would be release them to the public under a free license that restricts people from reselling them, but builds brand value in those assets for any related spin-off or updated versions. Of course that would require making new content rather than squeezing pennies out of the old ones where many of the original creators may already be dead.

 

https://www.pcworld.com/article/3296479/nintendo-suit-rom-emulation-game-preservation.html

Edited by JBerel

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What if AtGames were the white hat here? Everyone knows Namco would love to unite all its babies, which drives up the price and makes a deal less likely. Namco and AtGames can work something out, maybe as part of their settlement over the Blast thing. 
 

It's weird how some people are turning this into reasons to personally hate a toy company. 

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2 hours ago, x=usr(1536) said:

 

It's almost entirely the same.  Think of it as a development / location test version of Ms. Pac-Man and you'll be pretty much on the money.

 

 

Namco (to the best of my knowledge) never owned the rights to Crazy Otto; they didn't develop it.  It was designed to be an add-on to existing Pac-Man PCBs, so could conceivably be distributed as a child set without the Namco-derived parent ROMs.

 

The ROMs are preserved but not distributed at this time.

I was able to find Crazy Otto and play it in Mame without any trouble. 

1 hour ago, Flojomojo said:

I have it on my Xbone via backwards compatibility. Here it is in the store for $5. https://marketplace.xbox.com/en-us/Product/MSPAC-MAN/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d80258410837

 

The PS4 version is $4. https://store.playstation.com/en-us/product/UP0700-CUSA03957_00-MSPACMAN00000000

 

It's probably on some older disc compilations, too. 
 

The iPhone version was updated a month ago. It's under the Bandai NAMCO publisher name. 
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/ms-pac-man/id284736660

 

Android version is same story. 
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.NamcoNetworks.MsPacMan&hl=en_US

Thanks.  Without an agreement with whoever has the commercial rights to the hack portion of ms pacman, Namco can't really sell these.

 

Edit:

And it's at Steam for CDN$4.99 since april 2016.

Edited by mr_me

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AtGames made a lot of noise about "preservation" in their press release. I would assume they plan to rent a license back to Namco in exchange for putting the old games on new products. 

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2 minutes ago, mr_me said:

I was able to find Crazy Otto and play it in Mame without any trouble.

 

That's almost certainly a hack, not the original game.  Several versions of it have been done over the years, most impressively this one in which a concept cabinet was created for the (unreleased) game.

 

That article is worth a read; it gives some interesting background tidbits regarding the GCC version.

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