Ukranian developers Frogwares say that some of the company’s games are at risk of permanent removal from digital storefronts. Frogwares claims its publishing partner Focus Home Interactive refuses to transfer the titles in question back after the lapse of the publishing contracts.
According to the developer's official statement, Frogwares' 2014 game Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments will be removed from Steam, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One storefronts on September 29 pending further developments. Frogwares says three of its other games have already been removed from storefronts for last gen consoles.
In a statement to USgamer, Frogwares marketing manager Sergey Oganesyan says the developer attempted to finalize discussions with Focus Home Interactive concerning transferring the titles to Crime and Punishments and the other affected games "multiple times starting around May 2019."
Then, as Frogwares claims in its letter, Focus Home Interactive only issued an official statement to the developer sometime last week, saying that the publisher "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 says that this policy is new, and was not part of the terms it agreed to with Focus Home Interactive for any of the affected games. Oganesyan tells USG that Frogwares is in talks with storefronts concerning the matter, but that all the procedures require Focus Home Interactive's involvement.
Frogwares says that its titles published on previous gen consoles by Focus Home Interactive, including Magrunner: Dark Pulse, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, and Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper, have already been removed from the PS3 and Xbox 360 storefronts. Our sister site GamesIndustry.biz notes that Magrunner still appeared to be available on PS3 after the release of Frogwares' statement. According to Frogwares, "recreating the store listings "will be impossible for certain games on previous gen." On Steam, those three titles were previously transferred from Focus Home Interactive back to Frogwares.
Focus Home Interactive is a prolific publisher based in France. Recent titles published by the company include The Surge 2, GreedFall, Vampyr, and A Plague Tale: Innocence. The publisher did not respond to USG's request for comment on the situation prior to publication.
Subsequent Frogwares titles, including the developer's upcoming Lovecraftian open world game The Sinking City, are attached to publisher Bigben Interactive.
Framed as an open letter to "everyone who is interested in the video game industry," Frogwares says that it hasn't encountered a situation like this in the company's last 20 years. "We are preparing ourselves for a significant loss."