Sony lost Limbo due to desire for IP rights

Executive producer Pete Smith admits firm was speaking with Playdead about releasing dark platformer exclusively on PSN, but insistence on retaining rights led to deal's undoing.

Playdead's dark platformer Limbo could have launched exclusively on the PlayStation Network, but Sony's insistence on retaining the rights to the property led to a deal falling apart, Edge reports today. Speaking at a Develop Conference presentation about pitching games to publishers last week, Sony Computer Entertainment executive producer Pete Smith explained that there are positives for developers to keep game rights and to release them.

Sony's desire for Limbo's rights kept a deal off the table.

"There are obvious benefits to keeping it, but also to giving it up: you're way more likely to get the deal," he said. "Remember, 100 per cent of nothing is nothing. A publisher is much more likely to commit to marketing and merchandising if they own the IP."

"Sometimes all we want is protection so [devs] don't make a game, finish it, then go to one of our rivals," he added. "We look at IP on a case by case basis. With a bit of common sense, you can find common ground."

Playdead ended up signing an agreement with Microsoft that saw Limbo launch first on Xbox Live Arcade in July 2010, and arrive a year later on PSN and PC. The game has sold over 1 million copies to date.

Limbo puts players in the shoes of a small child who must find his way through a black-and-white world filled with puzzles and dangerous, often deadly obstacles. The game won critical acclaim upon release, which was followed by a small avalanche of award nominations that yielded multiple Interactive Achievement Awards and a Game Developers Choice Award.

For more on Limbo, check out GameSpot's review.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

0 comments
magusat999
magusat999

Why did they try to for exclusivity with a game that has already been released on other consoles, plus the PC? It's Gears of War all over again...

theKSMM
theKSMM

The loss of this deal was probably motivated by greed plus the desire to have another game to lord over their competition as "PlayStation Exclusive."  I guess that doesn't always work out for consumers or publishers either, huh?

XanderZane
XanderZane

I would have kept the rights to the IP as well. Unless they wanted to puchased the game and right for $25-30 million. lol!! I'm sure Sony wouldn't want to do that.

Chaos_Dante_456
Chaos_Dante_456

what if you could only play certain movies were exclusive to certain dvd players. or music to certain media devices.  

steelmouth
steelmouth

Instead Sony,MS and the rest should at least get limited exclusivity for X many years, or X many sequels

steelmouth
steelmouth

Every one should keep the rights to their creations to some extent, learn from the comic books, Superman is a billion dollar property and we all know who is cashing in that money and who died poor

joemanuel222
joemanuel222

lol Sony desperate for obtaining a good arcade game?

Microsoft has tons of great arcades games, sony has alot of retail exclusive ip's but most suck balls.

Quality over quantity, i bet sony wants the rights for Deadlight aswell. 

That game is under microsoft's wing so you're screwed sony. 

JimmeyBurrows
JimmeyBurrows

There's no reason for a game like Limbo to be exclusive, they wanted to get their name heard and the game enjoyed... Locking it to one console would have been stupid...

I don't think any games should be exlusive unless it's made by in house developers or is designed to take advantage of something one console/PC/ipad/phone has that the others don't.

Spend money making the consoles and services better, not on screwing over half the gamers you've failed to interest.

NINEINCH-Tool
NINEINCH-Tool

I certainly don't look up to Sony relations in America. They pull too much weight in mediums other than games and that sloppy handling transfers to our fine entertainment past-time. However I'm quick to realize this "red vs. blue" division that's being cast over us. Either we, who can speak beyond mere nods, actually stand up for what we need/want, or those with fist-full of dollars better know damn well that they're spending on something they want and get everything that comes with it. How ideal is that?....I think it's called American democracy.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

Well, you know, you got to look out for #1, right? :) In a way Sony is disadvantaged. Even if MS doesn't retain long-term exclusivity, it still benefits more than Sony would if the game is later released on Windows-based PC. Though I am against protectionism, I do understand Sony's concern.

 

Sony should more discerning about IP acquisition though. Limbo isn't really the kind of game that spawns sequels. Or did Sony try to own all other future games by Playdead as well?

NINEINCH-Tool
NINEINCH-Tool

On the flipside this game is boring,

 

but it's all the right types of boring

 

NINEINCH-Tool
NINEINCH-Tool

discerning tastes say this game is excellent. It's an arbitrary exploration of isolation and the practical machinations of a material body trapped in an world with shifting rules. Saying meh is pretty inconclusive...its not your type of game because you have petty crappy boring tASTES

Grovilis
Grovilis

Good for the Limbo devs.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

Didn't quite get all the hype to be fair..

 

After all the hoo-har and reviews I tried the demo and thought it was just 'alright', each to his own though I guess.

 

Then again i'm not really one for small downloadable games, probably has something to do with it!

therealsig
therealsig

I know that game exclusivity is a marketing tactic and, in some ways, necessary for a company to keep its edge. However, having too many exclusives makes gamers feel like they're missing out. Don't wanna constantly feel like I have to buy a new console.

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

Investor-based Company basically is greedy.

EA, Activision, Capcom, Sony or Microsoft they're at the same shoes.

 

Company who is smart enough to keep quiet,

they.tend to be liked by gamers community.

 

EA and Activision being hated because they can't keep their mouth shut.

 

 

jtthegame316
jtthegame316

thank goodness for ms allowing small devs to put there game on there machine with out wanting the rights of them. sony are just greedy.

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

Interesting that it was Sony who came forward with this. You can't blame them for wanting to protect their investment so long as they don't interfere with the development.

moonlightwolf01
moonlightwolf01

Excellent game I'm pretty glad Sony scarred them off making it an exclusive otherwise I'd never have got the chance to play it.

Halloll
Halloll

I got this on both PSN and Humble Indie Bundle V, that was a great bundle. everyone should play it.

SIDEFX1
SIDEFX1

Fantastic game with great atmosphere and down to earth feeling in its own right. 

Click_Clock
Click_Clock

Limbo is a great game, I would recommend anyone to pick it up if they are running Microsoft Windows 7 or Xbox 360!

bigbeebis
bigbeebis

Independent shall stay independent.

tightwad34
tightwad34

Why is this coming out now? Does it really matter at all anyway? No it doesn't.

BeateDrabing
BeateDrabing

Love how he says "your way more likely to get the deal. Wow, who knew if you agree to get screwed, your way more likely to close a deal. Thanks for the tip Pete. 

dbzpranav
dbzpranav

Thank god they didn't take that deal or else so many of us would have missed out on such a brilliant game

asmodeus_z
asmodeus_z

It's all about give and take - But sometimes it's crucial to know where's the limit.

BeateDrabing
BeateDrabing

Well its a good thing that there Limbo game didnt hit, right Pete? 

fanaticsm
fanaticsm

awwwwwwwwwwwwww.....greed: nothing good ever comes from it.....

ztg360
ztg360

where are the m$ haters now...both are businessed in it for the money but I am a firm believer that every single IP should stick with the devs...now a publisher can pay them to keep the IP with them but If i were a dev (that actually cared about my fans) I wouldn't sell an IP or let the publisher have it...regardless of money.

obsequies
obsequies

the unfinished swan looks nice

Maelsthur
Maelsthur

 @steelmouth or forever, microsoft never gonna free halo, and sony either with god of war.

EpycWyn
EpycWyn

 @joemanuel222 Excuse me while I scoff, belittling your statements flawed viewpoint.

BestJinjo
BestJinjo

 @JimmeyBurrows But without exclusives, there is no real reason to have 2-3 different consoles in the market place. It's not just the controller that makes each console unique. With next generation, the PS4 and Xbox are rumoured to even share the same graphics card, which means identical graphics capabilities. In other words, exclusives and early content that becomes available on one console over the other will be even more critical. 

EpycWyn
EpycWyn

 @NINEINCH-Tool PS3 v.s. Xbox 360 = American Politics? I did not think the console wars had gotten that bad.

jediapprentice
jediapprentice

 @jtthegame316 MS does want the rights of them. Why do you think so many of those smaller games never go to any other platform.

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

@bigbeebis It didn't say Sony were looking to buy the studio.

tightwad34
tightwad34

 @fanaticsm

 Greed is an atrocious thing and has caused so many problems it's ridiculous. I think if you get rid of Greed altogether the world is a much, much better place. That will never happen seeing how it's human nature.

yuunnnnna
yuunnnnna

 @fanaticsm 

 

True *BP oil spill could've been prevented if they didn't skim safety measures to save half a mil, costs tens of billions*

 

But also false* Too many wealthy assholes who had long and awesome lives to name*

NINEINCH-Tool
NINEINCH-Tool

 @EpycWyn Money is the endgame of all these practices. So yes, it's that bad. They'd process starving children in meat factories if it made them enough money. As long as they're as far away from the deed as possible. It's called monopoly, "I win". If you can't beat the opponent you don't join him, you buy him.

tightwad34
tightwad34

 @GeneralTrouble

He, He. I guess most everyone is greedy to some extent, but we also have morals and hopefully stick to them. It's, you know, the ones who have power and should be willing to put people ahead of money.