Today, Frogwares, the developer of the Sherlock Holmes video games and The Sinking City, has announced that their former publisher, Focus Home Interactive, has refused to transfer the title IDs to them.
Here is the list of games that are affected:
On Steam, PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360: Sherlock Holmes Crimes & Punishments availability ends on September 29th.What does that mean? It means that Focus Home Interactive was the publisher for most of Frogwares' games. Now that Focus Home Interactive's Publishing and Distribution Agreement with Frogwares has expired, Focus Home Interactive refuses to let the titles go. Why? Because “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.” Frogwares claims this is not in their contract anywhere and were told this only last week.
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.
The only Focus Home published game that the developer has left on a storefront is Crime & Punishments, and that will disappear on September 29--with the possibility that it will leave storefronts even earlier. Even though they are are both the creators and IP owners, Focus Home Interactive's decision has left Frogwares "voiceless." They will also lose valuable information such as wishlists and all other information that the store provided them. The Sinking City was originally going to be published by Focus Home, but a dispute earlier this year led to them signing with Bigben Interactive to publish it, the same studio that also published their last Sherlock Holmes title Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter.
Frogwares is currently in the process of setting up new store profiles and contacting the stores. However, they don't know if the transfer can be done for some, and definitely know that it cannot be done for some of their games that are on the last-gen storefronts. Frogwares will not have access to the revenue of their games for a while--possibly forever, but they are still going to go forward and try to fix this situation.
TechRaptor has reached out to both Frogwares and Focus Home Interactive for more information on the dispute and will continue reporting on the situation as new information emerges.
Update 1:We have received word back from Frogwares. We can report that The Sinking City is not connected to the situation, as the dispute refers to the titles that Focus Home were licensed to publish. The dispute itself has been unfolding since May 2019, and Frogwares didn't know about the delisting titles until it happened after the fact.
As of right now, the Xbox 360 titles "cannot be reworked," with the other titles' status unknown at the moment. There are "remaining payments" to be made to Frogwares from Focus Home Interactive, but they are not being used as leverage against them. They also note that they are planning on self-publishing their titles.
We also asked Frogwares if there was something that they wanted to share with people about the business behind gaming. Here is what they had to say:
In 20 years it’s the first time we faced such a situation and we thought we had seen it all. Apparently not. In our industry, publishers are seen having the upper hand over developers for quite some time and it’s true. In the end, this move warranted a public response from us because we felt it was necessary. To any up and coming developers, speak to other devs about the people that you will be working with, and maybe befriend a lawyer.We will update this story as soon as we have more updates.
What do you think of this news? Have you played any of Frogwares games before? Let us know in the comments!