Since 2016, one of the ways to get the original Falcon 4.0 was through the storefront at GOG.com. The original version could then be upgraded to the latest community created BMS release from there. Things are changing, however, as an announcement has Falcon 4.0 becoming delisted from the store.
I’ve been trying to follow the winding road of who the license holder of Falcon has been over the years. After Microprose released it in 1998, Falcon 4.0 has bounced around a little bit and it appears that until 2016 the rights were held by Atari. Then Atari, either by sale or agreement, enabled it to be sold by GOG.com and that was the state of things until 2023.
An announcement on the GOG forums indicates that things are changing.
We’d like to inform you that, due to the change of licensing rights, Falcon Collection will be delisted from our catalog on Thursday, April 27th, 3 PM UTC.‘Delisting: Falcon Coillection’ on the GOG.com forums
For everyone who purchased the title prior to delisting, it will remain in their GOG library.
The product still appears to be on sale on Steam with publisher Retroism, a group that calls themselves a “haven for timeless games,” appearing in the publisher information section.
There are comments coming from multiple forum posts that Atari is buying it back (or changing an agreement) but I’ve not yet found any official statements or links to any statements to corroborate.
The Falcon BMS community has naturally reacted with some concern. At the moment, the Falcon BMS team themselves are responding with no comment on the situation. That suggests to me that there are still discussions going on or potentially announcements to be made.
Although Falcon 4.0 is quite old, Falcon BMS has enabled it to keep up with sim developments and recent announcements suggested an ambitious increase in scope adding an additional highly detailed airplane to the mix (the F-15). It’s campaign system is also still regarded as best in the industry and thus highly valued.
This is a developing story so stay tuned for more!
10 Comments Add yours
Eagle Dynamics should buy it. 🙂
I remember the months and months of endless hype over Falcon 4. Coming off of Falcon 3, the new version looked like the Holy Grail of flightsims. Bought it as soon as it came out and no question it had the greatest manual ever. Had lots of great flying in that sim.
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Maybe Atari has woken up and realized what a piece of pie they’ve been letting go of all these years…
Atari buying the BMS team? Or it could be a move similar to what happened with Team Fusion and Cliffs of Dover.
No, that can’t happen. BMS basically says they can not and will not sell their work. Partly, but not only, due to it being now practically impossible to compensate all of the people that have provided work over the last 20 years as a donation of dedication to Falcon. If BMS is to continue, Atari has to keep the agreement the same. Atari also can’t poach enough BMS developers to add back the features BMS has added over that time. The only move for them if they want to keep Falcon 4.0 selling as it has is to keep things status quo. I hope they see this.
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That’s a good point and a real challenge when mod teams, as well established as something like the BMS group is, potentially venture into the commercial space. How do you compensate everyone.
I wonder how Team Fusion Simulations managed that one. It’s not impossible but I’m guessing difficult!
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Following the Atari bankruptcy, Tommo acquired nearly all of the Atari IP in 2013, including Falcon 4.0. Apparently Atari bought back the IP, although it’s still unclear what they bought exactly
“more than 100 PC and console titles from the 1980s and 1990s. The collection includes notable games from the Bubsy, Hardball, Demolition Racer series, as well as the 1942: Pacific Air War, F-117A, and F-14 air combat series.”
And it’s back, small change if you look carefully
Yes, it’s now listed as Microprose as the publisher, also the listed Publisher now at Steam, very interesting. Not sure if it bodes well since they are actively trying to develop games not just hold game IPs.
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The other thing about going commercial is while BMS is not open source, they are not commercial by philosophy. It is anathema to them as a group. There were multiple failed attempts to commercialize community Falcon 4.0 work and then even the commercialized community Allied Force made things messy.
That is by experience at this point. But I guarantee to this day there is work put in 20 years ago that a software legal department would look at and cringe to think about when that person could come out of the woodwork. Even if there is a statue of limitations on that old of work, there are still BMS members that went MIA that they would have to worry about. Attracting a few developers might be possible but not the key core because they have lived this multiple times and will not sell their work.
Best business move by Atari: keep the free software developers at BMS working with the requirement that everyone have a legal copy of Falcon 4.0 (which BMS 4.xx checks for) and probably raise the price some. It has been a ridiculous bargain at it’s current GOG prices. Hopefully they see this as a viable option because 4.38 would to change everything, about 25 years after release!