On Twitter, developer Corecell has published a statement against publisher PQube regarding the publishing rights of its game, AeternoBlade II.
"We've struggled to recover since we signed a publishing deal with PQube," begins Corecell's statement. "Hopefully, this will help other indie game developers to avoid what has happened to us and inform our fans about our situation."
Corecell's AeternoBlade II was published on consoles by PQube in Europe on October 2019. Corecell alleges that PQube had only paid the developers a small amount of the "minimum guarantee" that was previously agreed upon. And that the remaining milestones for the game were never paid, period.
In late August, Indonesian developers Mojikin and Toge Productions had accused PQube Games of "exploitative" publishing practices, including withholding a diversity fund meant for the game's development. Like Corecell, Mojikin ultimately ended its publishing agreement with PQube, and its first game, A Space for the Unbound, has been indefinitely delayed.
PQube called Mojikin and Toge's accusations false, saying at the time that Toge was trying to "unilaterally enforce unreasonable revised terms to our agreement. It is disappointing that...Toge have sought to deal with the matter in this way."
Despite efforts to try and come to an agreement, Corecell ultimately terminated its relationship with PQube in September 2020. Publishing rights were meant to return to Corecell, but PQube has allegedly held onto the rights since then, and continues to earn revenue for sold copies of the game.
Because Corecell is based in Thailand, and PQube is based in the UK, the developers explained they couldn't pay the legal fees to take PQube to court. Corecell later contacted the European departments of Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony to reacquire publishing control.
Currently, both Nintendo and Sony have removed AeternoBlade II from their European stores, and Corecell has yet to receive any revenue from those previous sales. Meanwhile, Corecell said it had to do "various additional works" in order to get out of its financial hole.
We have important news to share with you.#indiedevmatter #aeternobladeii #gamedev #indiedev #indiegame @xboxuk @PlayStationEU @NintendoEurope pic.twitter.com/AXwphGQYnL— CORECELL OFFICIAL (@AETERNOBLADE1) September 1, 2022
"PQube offered to hand over publishing control to us only if we agreed to keep this matter secret, but we no longer wanted to be involved in any more deals with PQube," continues Corecell.
Corecell concluded its statement by expressing solidarity with Mojikin, and saying that it ultimately wanted no harm to be done toward PQube. "What we want is to explain our situation to our fans, get our game back, and move on."
Game Developer has reached out to PQube Games and will update accordingly.
Update: PQube released a statement that details its relationship with Corecell up to the terminated partnership, alleging it published AeternoBlade II despite "delays and quality issues."
Further, it alleges that Corecell failed to materialize "critical fixes" to the game despite a previous acknowledgment of such issues in January 2020. In March of that same year, Corecell allegedly provided PQube with the PC version of the game to publish, then later released that version on its own without any discussion with PQube.
"Over the following 2 years, the publisher proposed and sent numerous proposals and supporting agreements to revert rights to Corecell in line with their request but these were not acknowledged by Corecell," wrote PQube. "Nevertheless, despite all of the challenges and the lack of communication from Corecell, PQube released its rights to the console versions back to Corecell well before the end of the agreement term."
In the conclusion to its statement, PQube called its eroded relationship with Corecell "inevitable over such a long period in the games industry."
"We will continue to focus our energy on doing a great job for our partners. We continually work to develop and improve all aspects of our business and are fully committed to providing the best possible service and success for all of our partners.”