Suspicious Commander Keen releases.

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Shador
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Suspicious Commander Keen releases.

Post by Shador » Thu Dec 29, 2011 21:54

Hi, I've ran into (and actually bought) some weird releases of CK 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6.
You can see these 2 lots here:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/150703754331
http://www.ebay.com/itm/150703725097
When they came I've realised there is very high possibility I was owned.
1) Yes, games are sealed but sealing in plastic bag is something everyone can do if he want so.
2) I've never seen such low quality of release however poor the distributor was. Each release contains of 1 3.5" floppy disk wrapped in 1 piece of standard printer paper:
http://img684.imageshack.us/img684/6360/ripoff.jpg
3) I googled but found nothing about "Black & White Software" company.
4) Their address is not specified, just PO Box, and this gives nothing.
5) Not a single copyright nor trade mark symbol is printed on the paper.
6) They don't even state they have the rights for distributing CK, they just say they have the right to "distribute from many game developers".
7) Strange requirements point: "IBM Compatible with 640K, EGA or VGA display" is really very short specification in comparsion to other requirements specifications for games of that era.

So I highly sure it's a bootleg, moreover, probably not the one from 90-s but modern one and seller tries just to make money on this. Because I've traced his feedback and I can see that for 2+ years he sells new "brand new and sealed" copies of the very same releases. To be fair, he also sold a lot of genuine vintage PC games, but I don't think it proves anything.

Could you please share your opinions about the releases? Is there any chance they are genuine? Thanks.

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Post by Shador » Thu Dec 29, 2011 23:27

And some update to the topic. I've asked the buyer about the case and here are my questions and his answer:

Q: Hi, just curious - do you think this Black & White company actually had the rights for distributing the game? I don't say it's bad, just it seems like a bootleg to me. Asking because I'm interested a lot in history of vintage games. Thanks in advance!

A: Hi, Yes & No - I had 3 shops at the time & used to sell a lot of their stuff but occassionally they would ring me up & tell me to withdraw a game from my shelves because it did'nt work properly, however customers said it worked fine. A few weeks later either their sales rep would pick them up or they would tell you they made a mistake & put them back out as they are fine. I think they operated mostly legal but sometimes started producing before they actually got permission. I was also told (but unconfirmed) that some games they would get permission to sell in New Zealand or New Guinea but then sell in Australia or they would get permission to distribute from the US or UK which would upset Australian distributors. There were lots of stories that used to float around but you did'nt know who to believe as there was a lot of jealousy from competitors. I would say they traded legitamately as all of the games they produced were over a year old & had fallen off the 'best seller' lists. I always had the sales reps from major distributors in my store & they never challenged them, just told me how much better the boxed version sells. I am sure if Black & White software traded illegally they would have been fined & put out of business. They only went out of business when CD's took over - they produced a few but small quantities were too expensive & it sent them broke. Hope this information helps you

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guynietoren
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Post by guynietoren » Fri Dec 30, 2011 13:19

It does sound shady though. My brothers have had experience with bootlegs while in Iraq in Afghanistan for the US military. They seemed easy enough to spot. Having a DVD case with a poor quality print, often containing multiple movies of poorer quality so they'd all fit on one disk. Same thing with what my wife got from Peru while she lived there.

I just figure that it's easier to to skirt past US copyright laws overseas. Although I thought countries through the UN had to honor copyright and trademark holdings. But who knows how much effort those countries put into keeping their end of the deal.

I'm sure the idea of selling 15-20 year old software at higher prices than new DVD's is appealing to some and make up their own distribution information that can't be tracked but to make it seem more legit.
If it is legitimate, it's hard to say what their packaging requirements had to include back then.

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Post by thehackercat » Fri Dec 30, 2011 20:00

guynietoren wrote:If it is legitimate, it's hard to say what their packaging requirements had to include back then.
The inclusion of military aircraft and the Space Shuttle intrigues me. Who would put that on the label? It seems very much like an amateur re-seller.
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Post by Shador » Sat Dec 31, 2011 0:23

I was messaging with the seller and he told me a lot of details about that company so now it looks more like real story to me. However any detail can be just made by yourself, I know this. Really don't even know what to think about this. BTW, 2 out of 6 floppies were not readable by my IBM PS/2 and this perhaps could mean they demagnetized because of their age?

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Post by Shador » Sat Dec 31, 2011 0:30

And regarding how bootlegs could look like - I know this good as I live in Ukraine (xUSSR) so we had a pirate copies boom at the end of 90's-beginning of 00's. Actually we still have pirate DVDs like compilations of 10 major games being sold in supermarkets.
But point is - at the time when legally distributed release started to emerge on a market, they looked really bad (not really differing from bootlegs) - jewel cases without any kind of mini-books inside and with bad polygraphy. Most of them were even not shrinkwrapped, but they were legal. So just the appearence is not always a good way to distinct pirate copy from licensed one.

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Post by Shador » Sat Dec 31, 2011 0:38

thehackercat wrote:The inclusion of military aircraft and the Space Shuttle intrigues me. Who would put that on the label? It seems very much like an amateur re-seller.
So you think they actually could be an officially distributed copy?

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Post by Paramultart » Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:28

Image

^ Woah wtf is that

Edit: Oh, it's an edit button.
Edit 2: Sweet, I can use this instead of triple posting! :)
Last edited by Paramultart on Sat Dec 31, 2011 3:23, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by kuliwil » Sat Dec 31, 2011 3:22

Ask them how much Keen 4 and Keen 1 cost in that package - if it's more than the cost of a floppy disc then it's illegal. Those two are shareware and should never be sold for a massive profit.

Also, Keen 6's distribution has always been an issue - I highly doubt that this is done with permission.

I've seen this packaging before and I think consensus was that it was shonky.
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Shador
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Post by Shador » Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:18

Well I believe Keen 1 & 4 weren't sold separately. It was two releases sold - one is Invasion of Vorticons, other is Goodbye Galaxy. So technically shareware part was just included in release.

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Post by kuliwil » Sun Jan 01, 2012 13:13

Shador wrote:Well I believe Keen 1 & 4 weren't sold separately. It was two releases sold - one is Invasion of Vorticons, other is Goodbye Galaxy. So technically shareware part was just included in release.
Yeah, that's likely. BUT if you are trying to test the seller's legitimacy then quiz them about that. DO NOT mention that they are shareware - it they quote the individual shareware games at a cost higher than that of a floppy then get super-sus.
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Post by RoboBlue » Tue Jan 03, 2012 14:44

Whoa, do unboxed floppies with Keen on them normally go for that much?
It's no wonder people are bootlegging... that's some pretty easy money.

Even if they aren't bootlegs, why would anyone want to pay such an exorbitant amount of money for something that poorly packaged?
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Post by Eros » Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:47

RoboBlue wrote:Even if they aren't bootlegs, why would anyone want to pay such an exorbitant amount of money for something that poorly packaged?
because with black & white software you don't pay for fancy boxes or coloured packaging to throw in the bin. you only pay for what you got - an exoritantly overpriced bootleg!
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Post by Shador » Mon Feb 06, 2012 17:36

Another day - another suspicion. What do you think about this Keen Dreams release?

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Post by guynietoren » Mon Feb 06, 2012 18:07

Made in Canada eh?
I didn't think Keen Dreams was ever made for sale, maybe I'm wrong.

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