Are you familiar with the game Ultima? It’s one of the most insanely popular video game series of all time. It has several games in several different genres of gameplay, including a game by the name of Ultima Online – one of the longest running and most successful MMORPGs in the time MMORPGs have been in existence. There’ve been no new Ultima Games since 1994, but it appears that one of the earlier versions: Ultima IV (1985) is still available and running relatively strong (considering its a 26 year old game) on two dedicated servers – and EA has just now asked them to cease and desist.
A bit more info on how this game is still being played: when a game reaches its apex, especially a game where you can interact with other players and collect and trade items, a game where you’re participating in essentially the original universe of RPG gameplay, there’s a chance that this game will never ever fade. This has happened with more than one Ultima game, this one, number 4, in two places – the browser-based Ultima IV Sega Master System emulation at Master System 8 and the IBM-PC port at Phi Psi Software. Both of these places have been sent letters to stop all hosting by Electronic Arts, the current IP holder of the Ultima franchise.
It’s apparently widely known that everyone had assumed that a group by the name of Ultima Dragons had been allowed to distribute Ultima IV freely by the then-owners of the Ultima brand, Origin, way back in 1997. Everyone assumed wrong, EA is saying now, and this takedown is being asked so that a brand new REBOOT of the game Ultima IV by Bioware Mythic can occur unhindered.
Now, even if you’ve got no idea what Ultima is about – you should still be able to look at this from a legal standpoint. Assuming the distribution of this fourth Ultima game was done illegally in 1997, does EA have the right to come down upon the groups hosting the servers for people to play the game on now?
What do you think?
Then of course there’s the hidden gem in all of this: a brand NEW ULTIMA GAME IN THE WORKS! Will it be better than Diablo III? My heart says no, but my excitement says YES!