Story dated March 18, 2005

Reports suggest Illinois Pin Ball's plans to remake Capcom's Big Bang Bar game may have run into difficulties.

The rights to the game were sold by Capcom when the company ceased production of pinball games in December 1996. The company who bought the rights was Williams.

Illinois Pin Ball's Gene Cunningham began a business relationship with Williams after they closed down their pinball manufacturing division at the end of 1999, buying their remaining stock, tooling and subsequently, various rights to reproduce Williams parts and artwork.

One thing Gene was specifically not permitted to do was reproduce full Williams games.

Now it seems Williams have become involved to prevent the use of former Williams tooling to produce parts for the Big Bang Bar project.

Because Williams were the dominant player in the pinball market in the '80s and '90s, many of the standard parts used in games by all the manufacturers at the time, came from companies using Williams' tooling. While they were tenacious in their enforcement of patents, they were more tolerant of this sharing.

So several of the common parts used in Capcom games were likely produced using Williams tooling and while IPB has various rights to remanufacture these parts, it would appear they are not permitted to be used in the manufacture of a whole game.

Gene admitted as much when he spoke to Pinball News about the Big Bang Bar project and explained why he had set up a different company - PinBall Manufacturing Inc - to undertake the manufacture of the new game.

It now looks as though Williams have taken exception to this attempt to get around the contract and have taken action to stop the use of former-Williams tooling.

This, by itself, may not be enough to derail the plans to build the game but unless an agreement is reached it could increase both the time to obtain all the parts required for the game and possibly increase the production costs.

There have already been changes to the original manufacturing plans. The number of games has increased from a limited run of 111 games to 183 and cost saving measures have been introduced such as the decision not to include a coin mechanism. Any significant increases in the costs could lead to a revision of the final price of the game for those who have already paid their deposits.



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