Acclaim loses Turok, Baseball licenses

More difficulty for embattled publisher as key sports and action licenses are pulled.

There was further bad news for troubled publisher Acclaim in its latest round of regulatory disclosure documents, as the company admitted that it has lost the rights to the Turok franchise and Major League Baseball.

Both licenses have been lost for the same reason - alleged non-payment of royalties due - and while the Turok franchise has been effectively dead in the water anyway since the commercially disastrous Turok: Evolution two years ago, the loss of the baseball license will affect one of Acclaim's biggest titles, All-Star Baseball.

Without the license from the Major League Baseball Player's Association, Acclaim will no longer be able to use real player names and likenesses in its games; a crippling blow for the All-Star Baseball franchise, which has been one of the few commercial successes to the company's name in recent years.

Acclaim claims that it has actually met its royalty obligations to the MLBPA and to certain key players, but the dispute continues, and has been ongoing since May of this year, according to the 10-K filing which Acclaim submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission at the end of last week.

As for Turok, that franchise belongs to Classic Media, a company which holds the rights to numerous media properties, and which notified Acclaim in June that it was terminating the publisher's right to use the license due to non-payment of royalties.

Again, no solution to this dispute has been found, with Acclaim apparently in negotiations to find an amicable way out of it - although given the low value that the license holds after the last game, it's questionable whether the company will be prepared to invest much effort in reclaiming the franchise.

Despite the low value of the Turok license, however, it is still a blow to Acclaim's image as a company to lose it in this way; especially coming only months after another of the publisher's successful titles, the Burnout series, was moved over to Electronic Arts by developer Criterion.

Following the news of the company's poor full-year results, possible credit difficulties and the loss of these key licenses, Acclaim's stock took a battering on the NASDAQ market - with the company's share price down some 22 per cent to $0.26 at time of going to press, although earlier in the day it hit a 52-week low at just $0.24.

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