So before I answer that questions lets clear up a few items.
- Technically there has been a computer version of Squad Leader – http://www.old-games.com/download/9003/avalon-hill-s-squad-leader but I am not sure if anyone who has played the board game would recognize it as such
- “Squad Leader” in the heading refers to both the original Avalon Hill game called “Squad Leader” and the follow-up successor “Advanced Squad Leader”
- All rights of Avalon Hill, Paradox Interactive, and Hasbro are recognized (not sure I need to state this but maybe they are a fan of this blog….)
I love Squad Leader. I remember asking my parents to buy it for me as a Birthday/Christmas Gift. I remember sneaking into their bedroom and looking at the unopened box – Something I had never done before/since. It is the best gift they ever bought for me (Actually they brought many great gifts – but its probably my most favorite best gift).
The Guards Counterattack is probably one of the most famous scenarios. If you have the game you would have played it and I am guessing love it and still think fondly about it.
Then came the add-ons like Cross of Iron and Crescendo of Doom. More rules, more counters, more scenarios, more boards – everything was right with the world. The problem is, and remains to some extent, finding someone to play against. You cannot explain the rules to someone in 10 minutes and start playing. If you have full knowledge of all the rules and are playing against someone that does not you have an unfair advantage.
There is still a big fan base for these games. MMP still produce material for it, as do other companies who produce add-ons that work with/extend the original game. So you would think this would make it a prime candidate for someone to produce a computer version that can live up to the game.
Buts there’s a problem.
Actually several problems.
Who owns the rights to produce an electronic version of the game?
To find out this information you have to do a little bit of digging. Eventually, you will find out that Paradox Interactive (https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/index.php?threads/paradox-entertainment-to-develop-and-publish-diplomacy-and-squad-leader-pc-games.160146/) apparently own the digital rights to the game. But they have done nothing with this right. Why could this be?
The first reason could be that the release of their version of Diplomacy, whose digital rights they acquired at the same time as Squad Leader, was not a success.
The second that they have had tremendous success with other games and do not see the need to.
Finally, can they ever satisfy the fan base for this game?
Ok well then just go ahead and develop the game yourself
Seems reasonable right? I mean who cares about a game that was first published 40 years ago? Well, the law prevents this. Hasbro purchased the rights to many games Avalon Hill produced and therefore ultimately own the rights to them. Much of this is protected by copyright law. I am not a lawyer but with the research I have done this prevents you from doing the following:
- You cannot copy the graphics
- You cannot use the name
- Likely even copying the layout of the map boards is not allowed
However, strangely, the rules mechanics are not subject to copyright laws. You cannot use the text as written by Avalon Hill but if you rewrite and utilize them them using your own words you are ok.
But Tigers on the Hunt has a Advanced Squad Leader mod
This is true but, obstensively, this was produced as a fan mod to the core game. Seems like a bit of a grey area to me but no one has complained so far. Peter Fisla, the developer of Tigers on the Hunt – http://www.wargamer.com/reviews/review-tigers-on-the-hunt/, was originally going to write a Squad Leader game but hit the copyright problem and gave up on the idea. Tigers on the Hunt is “Inspired” by Squad Leader. Although using the rules for your own game is ok it would get labeled as a SL game by its fans and then Hasbro may come knocking.
So that’s it then?
Seems so unless Paradox have a team secretly working on it or they are prepared to pass the rights onto someone else.
If you know someone at Paradox Interactive could you please pass the following onto them:
The world is waiting for a computer version of Advanced Squad Leader. Lance, from yobowargames, would welcome the opportunity to bring this great game to the Windows, Mac, iOS and Android platforms.
You will forever be remembered as the savior of this legendary game should you allow this to happen.