Posted on 28 Sep 2019 by Jay Shaw

Frogwares and Focus Home Interactive License Dispute

Yesterday, Frogwares released a public statement on Twitter detailing an ongoing license dispute with the publisher of many of their games, Focus Home Interactive. The crux of this issue is a new clause in Focus’ policies that reads (translated from French):

Focus has put in place a policy in accordance with which they will not transfer any title belonging to any developer which has removed all of their games from the Focus catalogue”

On the surface this reads as, “if we can’t have them, no one can.” This is because Frogwares publishing and distribution agreement with Focus’ has just ended or will be ending shortly in the case of Sherlock Holmes Crime & Punishment. Frogwares are the IP (Intellectual Property) owners of their titles but Focus handle publishing for the majority of them. This puts Focus in the position of basically holding the keys to the proverbial castle and they’re keeping them in a tight grip once their contracts expire. For the layman, this means that Frogwares cannot continue to sell their games from the already established store pages, leading to loss of wishlists, etc.

In light of this issue, we reached out to Frogwares for further comment on the issue. When asked about the policy change, Frogwares reiterated that this situation had never happened to them before and recent events goes against how Focus have dealt with Frogwares on previous games, as Focus have previously reverted control of several games on Steam to Frogwares.

The studio is still exploring just how much revenue they’ll lose thanks to this development: “We are still exploring the potential losses our studio will suffer from losing our revenue on all these games, but losing Sherlock Holmes Crimes and Punishments is going to be a particularly huge blow to the studio.” Our contact at Frogwares, when asked if this loss of revenue would put the studio in danger answered, “As of right now, it’s far too early to say how strongly it’s going to affect our team, but the impact is going to be more than noticeable.”

This dispute has been on-going for quite some time behind the scenes with Frogwares initially making contact with Focus back in May of this year but, “Nothing concrete was achieved during that time. Until recently, when we received their official statement with the above-mentioned policy, saying their decision “was final”.” 5 months might sound like a long time to be negotiating, but lengthy negotiations aren’t uncommon in any industry, not making any progress in that amount of time however is rather unusual. We also asked Frogwares for clarification on the timeline for communication with Focus and were told, “That’s when Frogwares began their discussions with Focus to try start and finalize the transfer of these games that had agreements expiring in September.” they also confirmed that during this time period the communication process was “very difficult.” and they only found out about the non-transfer policy last week.

Going public with this kind of dispute is never an easy decision to make. Frogwares “have been trying to find a way out for several months, but have failed to solve this so far. We are doing everything we can and we want to speak out about this issue.”

We contacted Focus Home Interactive for comment but haven’t received a response at this time. One source under the Focus umbrella, under the condition of anonymity provided a short statement: “No, not concerned at all by this.” We will update this story if more information comes to light.


Comments (1)

Posts: 349
L Coulsen
Posted 28 Sep 2019, 11:46
Something really doesn't sound right about this. Focus are usually really developer friendly