Focus Home Interactive delists Frogwares titles without notice

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.



Vehicular Battle Royale, Not My Car, shutting down September 30th

Not My Car, one of the few vehicular spins on the Battle Royale genre that launched back in early April, is shutting down at the end of September. Team member Turbo Racington posted to the game’s Steam page on Friday to announce the sad news:

We hoped this day would never come, but here we are. After 2 1/2 years of long nights and weekends trying to get notmycar off the ground, we have decided to shut down the servers as of midnight on 9/30. It was a difficult decision, but one that we feel is right for us at this time. We had big plans for the game, including taking it to console and adding new game modes, but unfortunately we weren’t able to secure the investment to do so. FYI, making games is hard, and making money making games is even harder.

We are greatly appreciative of all of the support and love we’ve received from the community since the game launched – especially those of you who were with us from the very beginning. To the Content Crew and Auto Club – thanks for your additional support taking screenshots, capturing video, and in general helping us test and tune the game.

We had loads of fun working with you. To those of you who showed up to our playdates, even when they were scheduled at the last minute and weren’t super friendly to EU timezones – THANK YOU!! It was a pleasure dropping into battle with you.

And extra special thanks to Greenskull and Potts for organizing the community, working with marketing, handling our social accounts, and in generally helping to evangelize the game – your contribution was invaluable – our community would not have existed without you. In addition to our players, we’d like to thank our partners at Skybound, Valve, Alienware, Razer, and Twitch for supporting us these last 2 years. And last but not least, thanks to our awesome art outsourcing partner, ArtBully, for helping us with this project. You guys are the best.

So, with this being the final weekend, we’d like to invite all of you to one last playdate with the developers before we close up shop. We’ll be on from 4-6pm Friday, 9/27, and then intermittently throughout the weekend. Look for us in our black and gold developer buggies, and join us in discord!

As an added bonus, we’re lowering all of the prices in the store to FREE! We will also be offering refunds to anyone who purchased an item since the start of Season 2 – please message me directly and we’ll get you taken care of.

Well, that’s it then. We hope you enjoyed your time playing notmycar – see you on the battlefield!

Anybody looking to give the game a shot can still grab it (and all of its in-game content) for free until Monday, September 30th. I’ll have a page up on the site for Not My Car – Battle Royale soon.

Thanks to friend of the site (and actual friend!) @CazzPhoenix for pointing this one out.


French ruling on Steam ownership: a defining point in the games industry's future

Massive potential changes in the world of digital ownership started on its glacial pace towards becoming a reality last week. The High Court of Paris ruled on September 17th (reported in French by numerama.com, translation here) that consumers in the European territory are now within their rights to resell digital games purchased from Steam.

While the court has given Valve three months to update practically its entire operation to fall in line with the new ruling, Valve has been quick to react. Initially they argued that Steam was a subscription-based service which the court immediately and appropriately overturned. After the ruling came down Valve confirmed they would be filing for an appeal and in a statement given to Polygon a spokesperson added that “the decision will have no effect on Steam while the case is on appeal.”

Should this ruling be put into practice, it has the potential to change how the world treats digital goods, for better and worse. Even if one territory holds out and keeps operating as we do today, publishers of all digital media (games, movies, music, apps, books) will still have to change their business models to accommodate the territories where the law does exist. While that’s good news at first blush — giving consumers ownership of their digital media and the ability to resell them — it’s not hard to see how it could also go so very wrong.

As reactions were quick to point out on just one Reddit thread, this would turn your immense Steam library that you’ve been bragging about on social media into a treasure trove for hackers and scammers. Your Steam, iTunes, PlayStation, or Amazon accounts could become just as valuable as your credit card information. There’s also the damage it could do to small developers and publishers as cheap copies, indistinguishable from those at full price, would readily be available forever. Why would anyone buy new when there’s an instantly available and cheaper copy just a few clicks away?

Then there’s the possible reaction from content producers. With resale values cutting into new release profits we could be looking at many more always-online, game-as-a-service offerings filled with microtransactions and more hooks to keep players grinding away. Goodbye short or single-player games, hello MMO-Everything. And if you think the landscape of subscription services looks overwhelming today, wait until every company has reason to lock their stable of content up behind a paywall.

I’d love to say that all of this would make delistings a thing of the past but games would unfortunately still be at risk of disappearing. Just like today, once those supplemental profits from microtransaction-fueled titles dry up, or players move on to the next major release, the older games will be shut down sooner and sooner. It would also be incredibly hard for a ruling like this to mandate that previously delisted content be brought back. And games would still be removed from sale with the expiration of licensing or publishing deals, the terms of which could become even shorter as there would be fewer profits the longer a game is on sale.

This is still early days however and there is so much that needs to be defined about this ruling. I can’t imagine this all going into effect in three month’s time without becoming an immediate, potentially catastrophic disaster for just about everyone involved, industry and consumers. Don’t get me wrong, I approve of the idea of digital ownership but how it will work needs to be well established before we start things moving.


Discord shutting down its game offerings on October 15th

Discord announced on September 12th that for the one-year anniversary of their Nitro Games service they will, umm, shut it all down. Launched in October of 2018, the idea was to bring a curated selection of “free” games to Nitro subscribers for $9.99/month as well as offer individual games for sale. Now that it’s time for Discord to renew their licensing deals with partners like THQ, 2K, and Deep Silver they’ve taken a long, hard look at the numbers and decided that it’s just not worth it.

“We learned a lot from all of you over the last year. Through your valuable feedback, it became clear that while we and some of you love these games, the truth is the vast majority of Nitro subscribers didn’t play them.

So, after careful consideration, we won’t be hitting Continue when these contracts come up for renewal. The Nitro Games catalogue will be removed on October 15th, 2019.”
Discord Blog

That catalog currently contains 97 titles and while access is going away, any titles that users purchased or were awarded as Nitro Game Perks will still be available in their libraries. Also on the upside is that no games were exclusive to Discord’s shop so there are no new Extinct titles to add.

As for us, I’m going to add a page for the entire Discord Nitro Games service and will not be adding individual pages for each game they offered. The deadline date will also be on the Watch List calendar for anyone that’s now trying to marathon through those 97 games before October 15th.

Did you ever buy a game on Discord? Are you a Nitro subscriber and does this news make you reconsider renewing your membership? Let us know in the comments below.


Bayonetta series on Wii U to be delisted next week

UPDATE 09/12: USGamer spoke with Nintendo on September 11th who confirmed that the games will also be removed from the North American Wii U eShop on September 19th as well. Our original post follows:

Heads up Bayonetta fans who are still rockin’ the Wii U. Both Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2 will be leaving the Wii U eShop in Japan on September 18th and in Europe on September 19th. Japanese Nintendo first broke the news earlier this morning and later in the day Siliconera confirmed that the European store pages for the games had been updated with the deadline.

Nintendo has been paring down their Wii U eShop library of late but heavy hitters like Bayonetta haven’t been their target. No explanation has been provided in any region or from any parties involved but “encouraging” Wii U holdouts to move over to the newer Switch releases seems to be the likeliest cause. 

So far there’s been no confirmation about a similar fate reaching the North American eShop but if you’ve been holding out for either game, this week might be a good time to grab them. Amazon currently has download codes on sale for both games while Bayonetta 2 can be had on disc. Check carefully though, only the initial run contained a second disc with the original game inside!

Thanks again to @MrFortyFive for bringing this to our attention.