Earlier this month, retro enthusiasts were all swarming over the news that ex-Sierra legend Al Lowe was selling gaming history. In particular, the 72-year old creator of Leisure Suit Larry put boxes containing the source code for the first two games in the series up for auction. In total, the auctions reached over $20,000, but they’re now over without a winner. While there’s no official word as to why this is the case, the scuttlebutt is that Activision sent a cease and desist to stop the sale.
According to a post on the Sierra Gamers Facebook page, a lawyer hired by Activision served papers to Lowe. While Activision does not own the Leisure Suit Larry IP, it does own the remnants of Sierra as well as several of their classic franchises. The company is under the assumption that code from Kings Quest and Space Quest could be shared with Leisure Suit Larry. Since you can’t strip these offending parts out of the code without making the entire sale moot, Lowe has voluntarily taken down the two auctions.
Now, is Activision actually right in doing this? That’s hard to say. The legality of shared code is one that hasn’t been covered too much in court. In the old days, a game’s source code was either discarded or stored away by publishers. It’s rare to see anyone sell development memorabilia like this. Game code like this has value and some preservationists would likely want Lowe to get the source code into the hands of someone who can preserve it for future generations.
For more about the sale, you can see Lowe’s original announcement video on YouTuber MetalRockJesus’ channel below. There are still two items available from the sale on eBay, including a sealed autographed copy of Leisure Suit Larry: Greatest Hits and Misses and a pair of authentic customized L S LARRY California license plates.