SAN FRANCISCO -- “Ecco The Dolphin” creator Ed
Annunziata and video-game publisher Sega of America have reached a Superior
Court settlement, finally putting an end to their long-simmering
dispute over ownership rights to the series.
Annunziata and Sega announced the settlement in a joint announcement.
their legal entanglement behind them, the two sides could soon commence
working on reviving the Ecco franchise, which first became a household name in the world of game
consoles back in the early 1990s.
According to an article on www.segabits.com, Annunziata
moved to file suit against Sega Inc. after his 2013 Kickstarter spurred efforts
to create a “spiritual successor” to his famed dolphin character that was to be
known as “The Big Blue,” fell flat, not to mention short of the $665,000
he was on record as hoping to raise for the project and his Playchemy startup venture.
went to court soon after that to fight for the rights to his original sci-fi
themed creation, which now is considered a classic by many and continues to attract
a huge, loyal following.
recently, the game has been republished on
downloadable platforms, a development that still makes it available to new, younger audiences.
Jovan Johnson, a California-based
attorney who advises app developers on privacy issues, watched all the back and
forth machinations between Annunziata and Sega from afar and admitted he’s been
somewhat surprised by how things have played out.
“I was talking with a few other
attorneys and at one point, we thought the claim creator was maybe reaching for
straws,” he told the Northern California
Record. “I don’t know all the details of the original arrangement, but at some
point and time the claim seemed a bit farfetched.”
Part of Ecco’s popularity can be
traced to its classic, super hero-themed premise. The game operates with the
dolphin character traveling through time and space to fend off a nation of aliens,
all in the name of protecting all his fellow ocean creatures.
As for all the early talk about the game
perhaps soon regaining its cult-like status, Johnson thinks it may prove to be
more than just talk.
“There's definitely a chance for a rebirth,”
he said. “It’s almost a given that the settlement has some sort of licensing
agreement allowing for that to happen.”
In a January 2013 article on www.polygon.com, Annunziata said being a gaming developer wasn’t a future he always envisioned for himself. His dream was to be a veterinarian, and the idea of making games
was something he was content to do on the side. From the first time he saw “Jaws”
as a young boy, something about the ocean intrigued him. Working
on the “Ecco The Dolphin” series has given him a chance to remain as
close to the action as he wants to be.
“Chances are, we haven’t seen the last of
Ecco," Johnson said. “From the looks of it, there’s still an audience out
there waiting for more.”
Both Annunziata and Sega have declined to comment on any
of the details of the settlement, terms of which remain undisclosed.