Gaming is a uniquely disposable medium. Where movies and music transcend temporal and geographical limitations, video games are particularly vulnerable to fading into obscurity due to generational obsolescence. One of the best parts of PC gaming is being able to accrue a backlog of games regardless of console generation. However, there are inherent problems that come with purely-digital PC releases, such as the removal of games from storefronts due to developer/publisher disputes.
This is exactly what fans of Frogwares’ Sherlock Holmes franchise get to look forward. The developer has revealed that many of their most popular games are being removed from digital storefronts following a dispute with their former publisher. Some of these titles may quickly be lost forever.
Crimes & punishments
In an official statement on the Frogwares website, the developer cites a dispute with former publisher Focus Home Interactive as the reason for these disappearances. Frogwares claims that although the agreement between the two parties has expired, Focus Home has refused to transfer the title IDs of these games back over to the devs. This is due to a new policy Focus Home claims to have, where “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 states that this policy was not present in any of the contracts they signed with the publisher; instead, they learned of it just last week. Even so, Focus Home has already taken down several of these titles from digital storefronts, including games that date back to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. While Frogwares claims they are attempting to “rectify the situation” with digital retailers, it appears that things are presently out of the small studio’s control.
The following titles are being removed from their respective platforms:
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.
Focus Home Interactive has yet to issue an official response to these allegations.
That sinking feeling
Luckily for Frogwares, their most recent release, The Sinking City, should remain on storefronts, as it was published by Bigben Interactive. Hopefully, its revenue will at least help to keep the devs afloat. Regardless, smaller development studios may be wary of working with Focus Home if they have this sort of policy in place, especially after the recent success of many self-published titles on the Epic Games Store and Steam. We’ll have to wait and see how Focus Home Interactive responds to these claims and the controversy already brewing as a result of them.