By Jared Newman | Monday, January 31, 2011 at 3:03 pm
The good news: Sarien.net, a website that hosts free HTML5 ports of classic Sierra adventure games, will continue to operate with the blessing of Activision, which owns the rights to the games.
The bad news: The iPad adaptations of these games, which I wrote about in October, have been removed, along with any sequels to games that are part of a series.
That was the outcome of a back-and-forth between Activision and Sarien.net owner Martin Kool. When Activision got wind of Kool’s operation, the publisher’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter. Then, they offered to authorize Sarien.net as an official publisher of the first game in every Sierra adventure game series. For sequels, Kool will refer players to Steam or other venues where the games are sold as complete series.
The removal of all sequels seems straightforward enough: Activision wants to make money on commercially-available compilations of Space Quest and King’s Quest, and giving away the first game in each series at Sarien.net might spur interest.
But Activision wanted the iPad versions removed because it may eventually release its own ports in the App Store. That seems a little unfair to me, because there aren’t any Sierra games available in the App Store yet, but Kool said in a blog post that he’s alright with Activision’s decree.
On the bright side, Kool acknowledged that his site became a showcase for HTML5 and web apps that circumvent Apple’s storefront, and he’s planning to more on that front. The sarien technology, he said, “can do a lot more than just showing these blocky pixelated graphics,” and he promised future developments in “HTML5, Apple, retro games and publishing.” If you’re interested in the advancement of web apps, that may be the best news of all.