From a lay person point of view, I have for years considered them the creators of the game. But when push comes to shove and you're trying to use that in commerce in a hostile way, then the lawyers are going to point out that, yea, no legally Accolade created it. You guys were the ones contracted to produce content to be licensed back and put in.
In short: If a journalist (or me or Greg or you) wants to call them the creators, that's one thing. But to promote yourself that way while engaging in commerce? No, you need Accolade->Atari->Stardock's permission. Permission Stardock was willing to give prior to all this mess.
Interesting but one point of curiosity, since nearly work in all industry, is done under larger companies who ultimate own the resulting body of work. How do portfolios and accreditation, previous work references etc. all factor into this "promote yourself that way while engaging in commerce"?
Such a huge number of games both crowd funded and otherwise are marketed by what the team members previously worked on regardless of who they worked under. Even if nothing is volunteered in the initial sales pitch the first question is who are you people and what have you previously done that demonstrates your ability to deliver on this new product? I mean I personally have backed over 400 crowdfunding projects (not even exaggerating I've got over 200 on kickstarter alone) and given almost every pitch is "X is a new game from the creators of Y" I'm baffled I've never seen something like this come up before. I mean EA are the license holders of 2 out of 3 of the highest profile "from the creators of" references in crowdfunding history. They love throwing their lawyers around and we haven't heard a peep. I'm not saying you are wrong I'm just amazed.
The closest precedent I can think of for something like this is Konami preventing Hideo Kojima from accepting his Industry Icon award at the game awards and both the gaming community and the industry utterly castrated them for it. I mean just google Metal Gear, everyone knows it was created under konami and they own it but in every listing and every documentation, you will find Hideo Kojima credited as the "creator". Listing the designers as the "creators" in any credits is the standard for pretty much every game in every corner of the industry, even from companies now famously oppressing said creators.
I don't know what the legal strength of the argument is, not a lawyer. But man you've got to wonder if whatever legal edge that statement has was weighed against the obvious potential PR disaster here.
I mean as laymen it just sounds ludicrous. To a laymen, creator is synonymous with designer. Heck in a broader sense it's just another word for developer. By contrast, I have never heard a publisher be billed as the creator of anything. Producer, manufacturer, distributor, license holder, commissioner and owner sure. The fact the lawyers see it that way is quite eye-opening. To a laymen it's a bit like saying Pope Julius 2nd was the artist behind the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Or if we were talking books it's like Allen & Unwin claiming they were the authors of Lord of the Rings. Or in television NBC claiming to be the "creators" of Seinfeld. (Meanwhile, Larry David has an entire show on HBO about him being the creator so now I'm wondering where NBC's lawyers are.)
So I guess what I'm curious about is with billing yourself as the creator of something you created under contract being the laymen's standard for filling out your resume, what's the exact line you have to cross in "commerce" where it stops being an acceptable laymen statement and starts being a legal no-no?
(Also obviously this is an entirely separate issue to P&F claiming they have the rights to the Star Control Trademark/License etc. let alone the mess that is copyright. I can kind of see where the lawyers were coming from saying they were part of a team working under accolade so why would the rights belong to them specifically out of everyone involved but the whole phrasing claiming they aren't the creators of this brainchild still seems really unorthodox)