While oodles of older series have received reboots, revivals, re-releases or spirtual successors lately, we can't even pay to download the poor old No One Lives Forever games. What could put Monolith's delightfully daft spy-fi shooter series out of action for so long? Well, it seems the question of who exactly owns the rights is something you'd need a super-secret agent to investigate.
No One Lives Forever, if you missed it, was a stealth-ish FPS series set in a charmingly camp world of 1960s spy-fi, starring agent Cate Archer. Along with guns and crossbows and whatnot, she was armed with fine gadgets like sleeping gas perfume and a distracting robotic poodle. They were fun, they were funny, Cate was lovely, and they had the oddest on-rails sequence in video games.
The first game was originally published in 2000 by Fox Interactive, which was acquired by Vivendi, which itself then merged with Activision to become Activision Blizzard. Sequel A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way and sub-par spin-off Contract J.A.C.K. were published by Sierra, which also ended part of Vivendi then Activision Blizzard. As for Monolith, it has since been bought by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
So which of these is responsible for keeping people from these fine games? Er. No idea.
After a fan asked, Activision's official blogger Dan Amrich did a little digging and drew a blank.
"The person that I normally talk to about this stuff does not believe that we currently have the rights," he said. "They've never seen it, they've never been given the permission to put that stuff on Good Old Games. They said basically, 'If we had it, I would love to have been able to reissue those games.' So that leaves the question, if Activision no longer has the rights to No One Lives Forever, who does?"
When Activision and Vivendi merged, they sold off rights to a fair number of games and series-"streamlined their portfolio," to talk business. Amrich suspects NOLF may have vanished then.
"I wondered if maybe at the time when Activision was saying 'We'll keep these, we'll leave this, we'll sell these,' whatever, maybe Monolith stepped up and took their IP back. So I contacted a friend at Monolith and he doesn't know. So unfortunately all I can definitively say is that at this time I do not believe Activision has the rights to No One Lives Forever."
While Activision has been jolly good about re-releasing older games, sadly whoever does own the rights to NOLF either doesn't know or isn't interested in bringing them back. Shame.