In the wake of the unfortunate news regarding publisher Nicalis and Ittle Dew 2 developer Ludosity, news broke on September 26th of another similar situation between a different pair of studios. Longtime Sherlock Holmes developer, Frogwares, posted a letter to Twitter explaining that their publishing partner at Focus Home Interactive had enacted a new policy regarding all of its associated titles.
Despite not being a clause in any of Frogwares past or current contracts, the new stipulation gives Focus Home the right to remove any games not in their current “catalog” from digital storefronts without first transferring these titles back to the developer or IP holder. What that means for Frogwares is that a major revenue stream for the studio has suddenly been cut off and they now have to scramble to attempt to get their titles back on sale.
As Frogwares explains in the full statement that can be found at the end of this post, “we are losing all revenue attached to these games, some an unknown period of time and for other games, forever. This new policy from Focus Home towards former contracted developers will land a serious blow to our studio, threatening our future games and the people who develop them.”
Focus Home has not made any public statement on the situation but Frogwares was quick to lay out their strategy for returning access to their delisted titles, saying that “we are in the process of setting up new store profiles, and we are contacting console stores and hope to try and rectify the situation. However, we are unable to confirm if this can be done and already know that it will be impossible for certain games on previous gen, and very costly for others.”
I don’t know when I’ll be able to get the affected titles on the site so for now here is a list of what is and isn’t available based on Frogwares’ statement. Unfortunately, Crimes & Punishments is also up in the air and Frogwares warns that it may be removed on September 29th. You can read that full and lengthy statement further below.
Sherlock Holmes Crimes & Punishments (Available: Steam, Xbox 360)
The Testmanet of Sherlock Holmes (Available: Steam)
Magrunner: Dark Pulse (Available: Steam, PlayStation 3)
Sherlock Holmes versus Jack The Ripper (Available: Steam)
View all of Frogwares titles available on Steam here.
Frogwares statement from Twitter on September 26th, 2019:
This letter is addressed to everyone who is interested in the video game industry, and wants to take a look at what’s happening behind the curtain.
We are Frogwares, the developer of the Sherlock Holmes video games, and The Sinking City. We make detective games because it’s our passion, and because it allows us to live off it.
But today, that is under threat. Some of our games are being removed from Sony’s and Microsoft’s storefronts, and even maybe from Steam. This list includes our titles like Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes Vs. Jack The Ripper and Magrunner: Dark Pulse (see full list below).
Why? Because Focus Home Interactive, the licensee (or “publisher”) that was in charge of commercializing these games on these platforms, refuses to transfer the title IDs to us, the creators and IP owners of those titles, even though our Publishing and Distribution Agreement agreement has ended.
Because, according to their official statement, sent to us only last week, “Focus has put in place a policy in accordance with which they will not transfer any title – the content ID or title ID – belonging to any developer which has removed all of their games from the Focus catalog”.
A policy that is not in any of our previous or existing contracts with Focus and that has never been applied to us in the past. Because of that policy, our games will be taken down from all storefronts.
As it stands right now, the only game left is Sherlock Holmes Crimes & Punishment which only has until September 29th. It is possible that it will be taken down at this date or earlier if nothing is done. The players will no longer be able to buy and play the game. We will also lose all our Wishlists on those store pages. As the creatores and IP owners of all those games, we have no control and no say in this. The decision of Focus Home left us voiceless.
We are in the process of setting up new store profiles, and we are contacting console stores and hope to try and rectify the situation. However, we are unable to confirm if this can be done and already know that it will be impossible for certain games on previous gen, and very costly for others as we will have to update the SDK and that takes months. We are certainly not going to give up, and will pursue this issue through the appropriate channels.
We have always been an independent studio. We worked with many licensees on the grounds of mutual interests and benefits, but it’s the first time in 20 years we have encountered such a situation. We are losing all revenue attached to these games, some an unknown period of time and for other games, forever. This new policy from Focus Home towards former contracted developers will land a serious blow to our studio, threatening our future games and the people who develop them.
Right now, we are in a tough situation. We are preparing ourselves for significant loss. To those that can help us and have influence over the situation – feel free to contact us.”
On Steam, PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360: Sherlock Holmes Crimes & Punishments availability ends on September 29th.
Already taken down on PS3: The Testmanet of Sherlock Holmes, Magrunner: Dark Pulse
Already taken down on Xbox 360: Sherlock Holmes versus Jack The Ripper, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, Magrunner: Dark Pulse