Developer and publisher Team17 could have lost its iconic Worms license in the late 1990s following a loan deal with an unnamed publisher.
The story is revealed in a Develop column by Team 17 managing director Debbie Bestwick, in which she stresses the importance of IP ownership.
Bestwick reveals that in the late 1990s Team17 was struggling with its latest game in the Worms series, with development falling behind schedule.
The company arranged a deal with an unnamed publisher which saw Team17 loaned the money needed to finish development of the game.
However, a condition was added to the deal: should the game not meet a specific sales target after its release, Team17 would have to relinquish the Worms IP to the publisher.
"Sales targets were set by the publisher, together with a clause that the Worms IP would be relinquished should those figures not be met," Bestwick says.
"A close working relationship with the publisher's team allowed Team17 to monitor orders on a day-to-day basis, knowing every single unit sold and where it had shipped over the previous 12 months (the target had to be hit within 12 months).
"At the time, the extra funding was necessary but agreeing to clauses that include IP seizure is beyond stupid."
Ultimately Team17 surpassed the sales target by 1.7 per cent, ensuring it retained the brand.
The studio now publishes its own games, with the latest, Worms Battleground, released on Xbox One and PS4 earlier this year.