UK publisher PQube has responded to accusations (picked up by Eurogamer) from Thailand-based developer Corecell that their working relationship has broken down due to funding and payment issues.
Corecell worked with PQube to publish its game AeternoBlade 2 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in Europe. As a part of the arrangement, PQube was required to pay a minimum guarantee and then grant further payments upon reaching certain milestones. The development studio has claimed that its former publisher did not hold up its end of the agreement, which then led to the pair of companies terminating their publishing deal in September 2020.
“PQube only paid a small part of the minimum guarantee of the signing milestone by the time we sent them the game and they never paid the remaining milestones,” explained the statement from Corecell on Twitter. In the rest of its tweet, the developer says that it has taken the situation public on social media in the hope that it can “help other indie game developers to avoid what has happened to us and inform our fans about our situation” as it has become clear that it is apparently unable to reach an equitable solution with its former publisher.
Due to the complexities of publishing agreements and the policies of the many companies running digital game stores, Corecell has been unable to completely pull AeternoBlade 2 from digital stores in Europe — although both Nintendo and Sony did comply with its requests and remove PQube’s listings for the game. The studio claims it has yet to receive any revenue from European sales of AeternoBlade 2 due to the issues with PQube, and has also confirmed on social media that it doesn’t believe that it can “afford to pay legal fees to fight the case in another country” to recoup those losses.
The accusations from Corecell follow a statement from Coffee Talk developer Toge Productions released last week that explained it had terminated its publishing agreement with the publisher, claiming PQube had misappropriated and misused money from a diversity fund that was supposed to be delivered to the studio, which PQube is responding to “through the appropriate channels”.
When asked about the recent claims from Corecell by MCV/DEVELOP, PQube responded with the following statement:
“We enjoyed working with Corecell on our first project together and Corecell were very happy with the success of this. We were pleased to work again with Corecell on AeternoBlade 2 and, despite delays and quality issues, we endeavoured to release the game in October 2019 for them as they requested.”
“At our post launch meeting in January 2020 Corecell acknowledged significant product quality issues and agreed to provide critical fixes in order to make the game commercially viable. Unfortunately, these fixes never materialised and Corecell remained unresponsive. PQube remained prepared to pay the full guarantee for the game, despite the very poor reviews and sales, and to publish the PC version in line with PQube’s option in the agreement. Corecell agreed in March 2020 to provide the PC version to PQube but then proceeded to list and then release the PC version itself without further discussion with PQube.”
“Over the following 2 years, PQube 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. 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. We remain open to supporting Corecell in any way possible.“
Asked how it might respond to prospective development partners worried that new revelations might come to light, PQube said:
“Throughout our 12 years of distribution and publishing history, we have worked with numerous partners and have released over 200 games. PQube has a proud history of working with developers both large and small. From established global IP, to championing independent projects from smaller teams – we continue to publish multiple projects and sequels from our existing partnerships which is testament to the ongoing strength of our relationships and the strong bond between our development partners and our passionate and diverse team at PQube.”
“We have always strived to provide focus and commitment to maximise the results for our partners and to support them fully through all stages of the product life cycle. When challenges have arisen, as is inevitable over such a long period in the games industry, we have always sought to resolve them in a fair and reasonable way. 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.”