It’s been free for donkey’s years but recently EA have been sending out cease and desist letters to sites all over the internet requesting that Ultima IV be removed from download lists. Since 1997, the game has been available from officially authorised hosts to download legally without having to pay but all of a sudden this is no longer permitted except on certain sites. Rock Paper Shotgun picked up on an announcement posted on the Ultima Aiera site and raised the question themselves: What in the world is going on?
Naturally the rumour mill has gone into overdrive and speculation is flying across the net as to the reasons behind such a decision. Currently the most popular theory is that there is something new in the works which possibly relates to the Ultima series – if fans are to be believed, this is almost cast-iron stuff. But absolutely NO confirmation whatsoever has been made by anyone and there is certainly not a single press release to date offering anything like an explanation. In point of fact, the whole argument that has arisen from this concerning Ultima IV being freeware and therefore without copyright has been addressed on the Ultima Aiera Blog with waaaaay more detail than I can get my little head around, but worth a look if you want a better understanding of what the fudge has been going on.
Whatever the reason, EA and Mythic are clearly up to something so let’s hope it’s going to make fans happier after so many have bemoaned the loss of the download being available. Don’t forget though, not every site has been asked to stop so if you do some searching you’re bound to find some left that are authorised to continue offering Ultima IV free of charge.