Four years after it was removed from sale, Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory has returned

Friend Computer inspects the remains of a traitorous citizen
(Image credit: Nacon)

Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory is a CRPG set in an Orwellian nightmare, a sci-fi society overrun by bureaucracy. At one point while playing it I tried to get a broken door fixed so I could get through, and after bouncing back and forth between various repair departments I eventually learned there was a final form I needed to fill out, and that form happened to be on the other side of the broken door. When Paranoia was mysteriously removed from sale weeks after its release with no explanation I tried to find out why, a quest that was just as frustrating as my attempt to get past that broken door.

And now it's back, just as mysteriously. Paranoia is available on Epic again, where it was exclusively released in December of 2019, and on Steam, which it's never been available on before. There's no press release accompanying this, and no explanation on the official Facebook or Twitter account, neither of which has been updated for years. It's just here, as suddenly as it was taken away.

Court documents eventually offered an explanation for why Paranoia vanished. Two of the creators of the original tabletop RPG the videogame was based on had issued a DMCA takedown, which was possible because release delays had meant it didn't come out until after the licence had lapsed. Their reason for taking this drastic measure was that they'd been shown a pre-release version and found, even after being delayed, it still suffered from so many bugs and "inconsistent/poor user experience issues" that they considered it "a product significantly below commercial standards" that, if released, "would tarnish the [Paranoia] brand."

The ensuing court case is over. As of June, a settlement was reached and an order of discontinuance filed. Whatever deal was struck, presumably its terms included Paranoia's eventual release. 

I reached out to Eric Goldberg, one of Paranoia's original creators, for comment. He said, "BigBen/Nacon asked us to review a version of the PC game they sent to us a little over a year ago; after playthrough, we reported the game was ready to be approved for publication; and earlier this year we agreed with BigBen/Nacon on an amendment to the original License Agreement that extended the term, allowing for the publication you see."

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.