"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."
- Descent developer Matthew Toschlog
Digital storefronts mean that classic games can continue to be sold well past their original commercial releases. Sometimes, though, the rights issues for these games get sticky and they get yanked from the stores. We rarely hear the reasons, however.
This time, we have: Matthew Toschlog, one of the co-founders of Parallax Software, developers of the first two games in the 1990s Descent franchise, has posted on the GOG forums to explain why Descent 1, 2, and 3 have been removed from the service.
"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," Toschlog writes.
"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.)"
This is complicated by the fact that Interplay owns the trademark for the property -- so the royalty and rights issues have to be ironed out, or the games can't be legally sold in the future.
Interplay has, in fact, licensed the IP to Descendent Studios, which has a new game in the franchise, Descent: Underground, in Early Access on Steam. It continues to directly sell the older games in the franchise itself.