Today I added my voice to that of the other software developers who have posted on the Kickstarter comments page for the “Bluetooth Spectrum”, a Kickstarter campaign by Elite for a bluetooth keyboard add-on for Elite’s iOS/Android Spectrum emulator. The gist of it is that Elite is not paying license fees due for the “officially licensed” software which is the basis of both their emulator and the Kickstarter keyboard project.
The comments section of the Kickstarter project can be found here.
See this World of Spectrum forum post for more background.
For convenience, my comments are reproduced here:
After watching this Kickstarter campaign evolve, reading the public statements in this comment section from several Spectrum developers who maintain that they have not received payment for games licensed to Elite for the ZX Spectrum emulator (or indeed, that their games have been used without permission at all), and after private email communications from several of these developers (six individuals actually, developers of well known and loved Spectrum titles), I felt it time to make my own public statement.
1. Paul McKenna & myself entered into a licensing agreement with Elite in December 2010 for the Odin Computer Graphics titles. Paul is the owner of the Odin intellectual property and my business partner, and I was the lead programmer on many of Odin’s games, such as Nodes of Yesod, Robin of the Wood, Heartland and others. Steve Wilcox is our contact at Elite. The agreement covered 9 titles, Heartland, Hypaball, Nodes of Yesod, The Plot, Robin of the Wood, Sidewize, Arc of Yesod, I.C.U.P.S and Crosswize, which were to be included in Elite’s ZX Spectrum emulator product for iOS and other devices.
2. We received (initially voluntarily, but later upon my prompting) royalty statements from Elite showing sales of the Odin titles. Eventually these statements dried up completely.
3. Over time, it became clear that royalties due under the agreement (which were to be paid within 30 days of the end of each calendar quarter) were not being paid. It is now over three years since this agreement was signed and to date no royalties have been paid. This is despite numerous requests, several of which have been acknowleged (by way of an email response) by Steve Wilcox, the most recent exchange being in December 2013.
4. At the present time, Elite is still offering the licensed Odin content for sale in various forms on the iOS app store (for example, Robin of the Wood: ZX Spectrum, Robin of the Wood HD: ZX Spectrum, and the Odin Computer Graphics pack which is an in-app purchase for the ZX Spectrum Elite Collection emulator, and which features Nodes of Yesod, Robin of the Wood and others).
5. This Kickstarter campaign has raised over $100,000 (£65,000) on the back of “officially licensed” software; however, I understand that in the cases of at least 6 individual developers, as communicated both publicly here and through private correspondance with each individual, the fees due under those “official licenses” have in fact not been paid. In another case I understand there is in fact no agreement in place at all (see Steve Crow’s comment below). To put a finer point on this, if you don’t pay the license fees, you’re not an official licensee.
So much for the facts. I would encourage all backers of this Kickstarter to consider the information I have provided carefully as they decide whether to support this Kickstarter. I’ve been working as a game developer continuously for the last 30 years, I’ve worked on many major software titles, have a good reputation in the industry and have no personal motivation to misrepresent this situation.