STALKER acquisition update: GSC responds, say they remain "sole owners"

It seems to be the day for companies making snide shots across the bow through official statements. In light of yesterday's rather confusing announcement from bitComposer that they had acquired the rights to "the acclaimed S.T.A.L.K.E.R. [sic] brand from Boris Natanovich Strygatsky [sic]," GSC Game Worlds have posted on their website to say that actually, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. belongs to them.

Here's their statement in full:

"In view of the rumors appearing in press, we find it necessary to inform that GSC Game World and Sergey Grigorovich remain to be the sole owners of all the intellectual property rights to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game series and the brand overall, including all the trademarks, the game universe, the technology etc. This can be easily verified with the trademark services online.

"From time to time news on the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. brand purchase by this or that company appear over the Internet. We relate such a keen interest in the brand to its exceptional popularity. Even the purchase of rights to create a “Roadside picnic” book-based game by a small publisher is presented as the continuation of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise. We have doubts regarding the mentioned product by bitComposer (the publisher of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat on some territories), since the latter has significant debts in terms of fulfilling the obligations under the existing contract between our companies."

Leaving aside the dig about bitComposer's debts, what's going on? The confusion seems to have arisen from bitComposer's original press release, and their use of the annoyingly acronymised S.T.A.L.K.E.R.. That specific punctuated quirk is distinct to GSC's series, and doesn't appear in the film/book/whatever, the rights to which are presumably in possession of the estate of Boris Strugatsky.

Which would mean the following:

  • GSC, specifically Sergei Grigorovich, still have ownership of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.. As stated, the trademark is still active in his name.
  • bitComposer have actually obtained the rights to make a game based on Stalker, the non-punctuated film based on Strugatsky's book, Roadside Picnic, which while also based in the Zone, would be free of any changes distinct to the GSC games.

Confusing, but it's the most sensible reading of bitComposer's obfuscating press release and GSC's counter. We've reached out to bitComposer for a comment on GSC's clarification.

Phil Savage

Phil has been writing for PC Gamer for nearly a decade, starting out as a freelance writer covering everything from free games to MMOs. He eventually joined full-time as a news writer, before moving to the magazine to review immersive sims, RPGs and Hitman games. Now he leads PC Gamer's UK team, but still sometimes finds the time to write about his ongoing obsessions with Destiny 2, GTA Online and Apex Legends. When he's not levelling up battle passes, he's checking out the latest tactics game or dipping back into Guild Wars 2. He's largely responsible for the whole Tub Geralt thing, but still isn't sorry.