Late yesterday, Frogwares, developers of the Sherlock Holmes detective game series, revealed that their Sherlock Holmes games are at risk from being taken down from all digital storefronts. Should the games be removed, it would be a crippling blow to the company, potentially causing them to close due to the lack of revenue for what could be months.
In a statement on Twitter, Frogwares explained that games such as Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack The Ripper, and Magrunner: Dark Pulse are being, or have been, removed from Steam and console-specific storefronts. The reason this is happening is because the licensee, also known as a publisher, responsible for commercialising the games, Focus Home Interactive, has refused to transfer the IDs for the games to Frogwares. It’s important to know that while Focus Home Interactive may have published the games, Frogwares are the IP owners and creators.
Frogwares has also pointed out that this is happening despite the fact that the Publishing and Distribution agreement between them and Focus Home Interactive has now ended.
Last week, Focus Home Interactive provided a statement to Frogwares regarding the matter. Their statement said that they have put a policy into place which means that they will not transfer any title, content ID or title ID, belonging to a developer that has removed all of their games from the Focus catalogue. Frogwares has described how this policy wasn’t in place in any of their previous contracts, nor is it in their existing contracts with the publisher, and it has certainly never been enforced on them before now.
The result of this policy is that all of Frogwares’ games being removed from digital storefronts. At the moment, Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments is still available, but it only has until the 29th of September. If nothing is done before that date, this game too will be taken down. The policy means that no one can currently buy most of Frogwares’ games, and they stand to lose all of their wishlists on Steam store pages. Whilst Frogwares is in the process of creating new profiles and contacting other storefronts, there’s a good chance the process of transferring the titles will be expensive, and take months to complete. Certain games on previous-gen consoles will be lost forever as a result of this policy.
This policy will affect Frogwares’ income from their games until they can get them listed again. In some cases, they will cease to receive revenue from games, because they’ll never be re-listed. The developer has asked that anyone who can help, or provide advice, gets in touch with them so that they can move forward in the appropriate manner.
Unfortunately, it appears as if Focus home Interactive has made a decision that will help them in the long term, but harm developers such as Frogewares in the short term. There’s a possibility that Frogwares will close down as a result of lack of income because of this policy, which doesn’t seem like a fair result for an independent developer as the result of a publisher’s decision.
Check out our review of Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter.
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