Why does King Charles hold the video game rights to Terry Pratchett's Discworld?

Virgin Radio

9 Feb 2024, 14:34

King Charles, Discworld cover art

Credit: Gregg Barnett / Getty

It seems the future Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels being turned into video games is all down to King Charles. 

Yes it’s true! Back in the 90s, there were three Discworld video games with the likes of Eric Idle, Rob Brydon and Tony Robinson on the voice cast. 

While the late author was a fan of game franchise, the closure of developer Perfect Entertainment and the death of Terry in 2015 meant that the wildly imaginative world has been left behind by the gaming community. 

However, as reported in Metro, British law surrounding copyright dictates that if the rights holder has been defunct for over a decade, then 50 percent of the rights go back to the original creator and 50 percent to the Crown. 

According to the publication, Gregg Barnett, the writer and director of the first two games, now has claim over half of the rights, while King Charles legally has the rest. 

So could that mean reissues or even remakes could be done with the royal’s permission? It seems it might be the case according to Barnett. 

He said to Time Extension: “There have been discussions and something may be happening down the track – a re-release or a remaster. But it’s obviously a complicated process when you’re dealing with the Crown.

“It may happen, then it could advance to new versions of them. And again, I said, I would like to do a new Discworld game.”

He continued: “But beyond all of the stuff that may or may not happen [like] the old versions, it’s just going to be hard to get the rights to do anything new in the Discworld universe at the moment.”

The beloved Discworld series began in 1983 and was set on a flat planet balanced on the back of four elephants, who themselves are on the back of a giant turtle. The incredibly intricate stories often involved parodies of fantasy novels, fairy tales and mythical tropes that were prevalent elsewhere in the genre. 

The mind-bending world continued for thirty years until Pratchett’s final book, The Shepherd's Crown, was released in 2015 after his death. 41 Discworld books were published in total, and subsequently made Pratchett the UK’s best-selling author of the 1990s.