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Playdead Confirms Limbo's PSN Deal Crumbled Over Ownership Concerns

Developer defends decision to to hold the line on rights to its game.

Limbo, like many digital games this generation, started on XBLA and moved elsewhere.
Limbo, like many digital games this generation, started on XBLA and moved elsewhere.

Limbo developer Playdead has confirmed reports from earlier this week that Limbo could have debuted on PlayStation Network.

Eerie platformer Limbo was released on Xbox Live Arcade first, but eventually came to PSN (a year later!), PC, Mac, and even Linux.

At the Develop Conference, Sony Computer Entertainment executive producer Pete Smith said if Sony had given up its demands to control Limbo, it may have premiered on PSN.

“There are obvious benefits to keeping it, but also to giving it up: you're way more likely to get the deal," said Smith. "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 [intellectual property]. [...] Sometimes all we want is protection so [devs] don't make a game, finish it then go to one of our rivals. We look at IP on a case by case basis. With a bit of common sense, you can find common ground."

Clearly, common ground did not include giving up ownership of Limbo and its potential future. In addition to confirming the reports were accurate, the studio gave me a brief comment on its argument.

“As a development studio, the IP is the greatest value you have,” said Playdead CEO Dino Patti in a statement. “Especially creative IPs, they should always stay with their creators.”

When the story started spreading, Patti found support from creatives like Double Fine’s Tim Schafer.

“Developers who give up their IP thinking they'll get more support from their publishers are in for a frustrating lesson,” said Schafer on Twitter. “Every developer currently negotiating a pub deal: demand your IP rights! If only 1% win, it's still easier for the next developer! I never said publishers are evil. They can be great partners. But it's better for both parties if devs own IP. Better games!”

Playdead is actively at work at its next game, which will apparently be "more crazy than Limbo."

Patrick Klepek on Google+