Independent Ukrainian developer Frogwares, best known for its work on myriad Sherlock Holmes titles, has had most its games pulled from digital storefronts due to a licensing disagreement with publisher Focus Home Interactive, the company responsible for publishing many of Frogware’s games. In an official statement from the developer, it notes that Focus Home refuses to transfer the rights back at the expiration of the publishing and distribution agreement.
An excerpt from the statement reads:
…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 has expired.
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.
One of the only games that still remains on digital stores is Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments, which is scheduled to be removed on September 29, 2019 from all available platforms. The removal of the company’s games means that players will no longer be able to purchase them digitally, despite Frogwares being the owner of the IP. Those who already own the game should still be able to re-download the games if they have deleted them.
Frogwares is attempting to rectify the issue, but it’s a very complicated situation with an uncertain outcome. The matter has put Frogwares in a tough situation that could determine the future of the company, due to the financial loss of revenue.
The full list of removed games can be found below:
- On Steam, PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360: Sherlock Holmes Crimes & Punishments availability ends on September 29th.
- Already taken down on PS3: The Testament 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
- On Steam, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes Vs. Jack The Ripper and Magrunner: Dark Pulse are published by Frogwares and not by Focus Home Interactive.
More recently, Frogwares developed and released The Sinking City, a Lovecraftian investigation title published by Bigben. It’s unknown if the use of a different publisher is in any way related to this Focus Home distribution rights issue. At this time, Focus Home Interactive has yet to release a statement regarding their side of the story.
What do you make of this situation? Let us know in the comments.