Oddworld creators never got paid royalties despite original game selling 5 million copies

Here’s something mind boggling. Lorne Lanning and the fine people at Oddworld Inhabitants have never seen any money from the sales of the original Oddworld. It turns out the deal the developer had with their original publisher back in the 90’s made it so Oddworld Inhabitants didn’t get paid royalties.

Lorne Lanning recently confessed:

And we thought we could do that organically, we thought we could do that with successes. But the fact is I sold over 5 million games at retail and I never saw one royalty check. Now if you go around and ask the rest of the developers who say, ‘Oh, we sold a million units!’ Ask them how many royalty checks they’ve had and it’ll be, ‘Oh, well that’s a sore spot.’

It ends up the lack of payment is exactly how Lanning and friends got Oddworld Inhabitants back in their power, saying:

ow fortunately someone told us to [perform an audit], and did the same thing. We found millions and millions of dollars of error not in our favor, and that’s ultimately how we got the company back. Because when we were able to prove that things were not what they should be then it was ‘pay us or give us the company back’, very simple. And so that’s how we got the company back, 100 per cent.

Lanning and Oddworld Inhabitants pretty much closed up shop due to issues with pay like this in 2005. Now 9 years later the team is making their triumphant return with the Oddworld remake. Lanning said this sabbatical from game development was largely due to this wage problem:

And so whatever the reasoning the appeal had been lost. It’s not that I didn’t want to build games, I just didn’t want to be a slave. I don’t want to be a slave to these guys who are making tons of money while the developers are not.

I can see why Lanning didn’t have it in him after 10 years of not getting paid properly. It’s a fantastic, feel-good story to see Oddworld Inhabitants bringing the franchise back in style.

Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey will hit PS4 later this month and other platforms at a future date.