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.
With 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.
Annunziata 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.
More 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.