More on Iron Crown – The End of an Era

by Nov 1, 2000Games

I am probably not going to make any friends in high places by posting this bit of news, but I thought it was appropriate to post it anyway. I decided to post this only after it was made public on other channels. This piece of news only adds to the other pieces of news that have been filtering back to us about the other license holders and the problems they are having.

The following is from an Employee of Iron Crown Enterprises, the company that for years has produced some of the best Role Playing Games out there. I fondly remember the days gone by when I made my first characters using the systems they developed.

It was a blow to me and RPG fans everywhere to see the end of an era when ICE declared bankrupcy. The blow compounded when in the same week Sierra announced they were canceling Orcs and were firing the entire team who was working on their Middle-earth online game.

What do you think? Add you comments below or head on over to the Messageboard and leave your comments in the Games section.

…I have checked my info where I could. Having protested the “Dark Lord’s” treatment once I feel much better about repeating my effrontery; I may have some “Took” blood in me like the Baggins family. This needs stating at least once; although I do not anticipate posting repetitious rantings on this topic.

It is entirely factual to say that Tolkien Enterprises has acted consistently throughout the Chapter 11 process to shut ICE down — for whatever reason. They repeatedly tried to restrict our use of our most basic assets which would immediately kill us and done all they were allowed to burden us with incessant demands — often delivered Friday with a demand that they receive them Monday. They routinely would send notice of things around midnight our time and claim they were from the previous day and say we had three days from when they sent it.

We repeatedly went to court over these issues trying to get enough room to function. If I am informed correctly the judge at one point instructed them to work with us to sell the Tolkien inventory and come to some sort of deal. They ignored this. So we could not sell the Tolkien inventory, but they would not let us destroy it and forced us to pay to insure and store it. They did everything they could to make our 11 unworkable in other words. I think you get the picture.

Why? That is speculative. There are many theories. (A) We’re jerks and deserve it; naturally, we don’t think that would be entirely fair. (B) Perhaps they just feel like it and anyway they treat everybody this way; check out John (Creedence Clearwater Revival) Fogerty’s experience with Sol Zaentz Associates which owns Tolkien Enterprises. (C) Perhaps they hope to make a quick-killing (how appropriate) and a windfall profit taking over the ICE properties and reselling and licensing them. (D) More persuasive is the notion that some of the Middle-earth IP ICE has created may pose them a legal and financial problem if other licensees have based some of their products, films etc. on material created by ICE rather than Tolkien. Ironically I don’t think it would occur to anyone at ICE to sue for $ if this were the case and we were in a normal relationship with TE and the other licensees participating in “the Tolkien thing;” perhaps in our place they would and figure we’re no different.

No one knows really. If they wanted us to survive to pay them they might have allowed us to sell our huge inventory of Tolkien material. I answered several emails, letters, phone calls a day asking to buy the stuff every day for the last year. We only owed them money for the right to produce and sell those products, but they refuse to allow us to sell them. They are within their legal rights but you can imagine our frustration. If sold for normal wholesale amounts those products would almost eliminate what we owe them — at least what we think we owe them. They double the figure by adding interest, TE mistakes in calculation, demanding royalties on all sales to the book trade even if it was returned, and demanding their 65% on foreign royalties receipts whether or not they were ever paid. The bankruptcy code lets them add their legal fees, however …… You see where this inevitably goes.


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