Sherlock Holmes games being pulled from storefronts despite developer’s pleas
Independent developer Frogwares woke to some disheartening news this week as their publishing partner Focus Home Interactive dropped a bombshell on them. Frogwares, the developers of the Sherlock Holmes series of videogames, noticed that several of their games were vanishing from the Playstation and Xbox storefronts. In an official statement from the developer, which has been posted to Twitter, Focus Home Interactive states that “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 removed from the Focus catalog.”
So what does this mean? Since Frogwares are an independent developer and not currently working with Focus Home Interactive, this policy says that Focus legally has the rights to the titles of the games despite Frogwares still owning legal rights to the IPs. Frogwares mentions in their statement that before a week ago, this policy was never mentioned or applied in any of their contracts with Focus Home Interactive.
The list of games getting axed under this policy are Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes Crimes & Punishments, as well as Magrunner: Dark Pulse. All of these titles are being pulled from Playstation and Xbox storefronts with little to no notice to the developer affected. As of right now, the games are still listed on Steam, but those are potentially being pulled before the end of the month. Frogwares statement also includes that this policy will “threaten [their] future games and the people who develop them.”
Focus Home Interactive has been a publisher to a lot of great games and this spur of the moment policy sets a devastating precedent for all of their licensees. Just in 2019 so far, Focus Home has published A Plague Tale: Innocence, The Surge 2, World War Z, and Greedfall, all of which were different licensed developers. These shady business dealings could threaten the futures of these franchises as well as other independent developers searching for a publisher. There’s nothing that dissuades business more than a policy that financially ruins a studio should it pursue other ventures.
As of right now, Focus Home Interactive has not issued a statement in rebuttal of these policies and their removal of the games affected.