Why is the library of developer Frogwares disappearing from digital retailers? Is it their doing, or someone else’s? Before you fire off angry tweets, we know the answer to this one: It’s definitely someone else. Specifically their own publisher, Focus Home Interactive.
Long ago Frogwares and Focus Home entered an agreement for the latter to publish the former’s games on a variety of formats. Since, Frogwares games like Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes Vs. Jack The Ripper, and Magrunner: Dark Pulse have appeared on PC, Playstation 3, XBox 360, Playstation 4, and others.
The contract is now up, and Focus Home is unexpectedly reacting by pulling Frogwares’ entire back catalog from the PS3, XBox 360 and Steam storefronts. Keep in mind the publisher has never done this before. Was this part of the deal? Frogwares says it wasn’t.
“According to their official statement, sent to us only last week, “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”. A policy that is not in any of our previous or existing contracts with Focus and that has never been applied to us in the past. Because of that policy, our games will be taken down from all storefronts. As it stands right now, the only game left is Sherlock Holmes Crimes & Punishments which only has until September 29th.”
Does Frogwares now have legal ground to sue? The website GameDaily asked attorney Richard Hoeg for his opinion, and he said the matter was complicated. “One party cannot unilaterally amend a contract in most instances unless expressly given the authority to do so in the contract,” Hoeg tsaid. “That said, it is possible that certain contract terms can be made subject to application of one or another party’s ‘policies and procedures’ which may be amended from time to time unilaterally. You see this often with privacy policies for instance.”
Frogware’s most recent title, The Sinking City, was self-published and will not be affected by this weird turn of events.