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A pair of Indonesian studios has accused UK publisher PQube Games of claiming a diversity grant on their behalf, then withholding the money from them.
Toge Productions and Mojiken Studio agreed a deal with PQube to handle the console publishing of its upcoming game A Space for the Unbound.
However, Toge and Mojiken now allege that PQube used the fact the studios are based in Indonesia to get a diversity fund from “a well-known console platform”, then chose not to pass the money on to them.
Instead, the studios claim that PQube “intentionally withheld information about the grant and used it as a leverage for their own commercial gain”.
A Space for the Unbound - trailer
Update: PQube responds
PQube has responded to the allegations.
In a statement to VGC, the publisher says: “We have honoured all obligations of our publishing agreement and have supported Toge Productions at every stage of product development throughout their delays and difficulties.
“This support has included offering significant further funding, over and above grant funding, to support development, porting and marketing.
“Toge Productions have sought for some time to unilaterally enforce unreasonable revised terms to our agreement and it is disappointing that, as a result of not achieving that and despite PQube’s significant efforts to accommodate this, they have sought to deal with the matter in this way. We will respond through the appropriate channels”.
In a joint statement on Twitter, the studios announced that A Space for the Unbound had been “delayed until further notice” while they tried to find a new publisher for the console versions of their game.
“Earlier this year we discovered that PQube Games, a UK-based publisher that we signed for the console publishing of A Space For The Unbound for western regions, had done certain things which have left us feeling manipulated and exploited, and so we have had to terminate our agreement with them,” the statement reads.
“At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in August 2020, PQube Games used our position and heritage as developers from Indonesia to obtain a diversity fund from a well known console platform. The diversity fund was a grant fund intended to help underrepresented game developers, especially during the pandemic.
“However, instead of giving those funds to the developers as the grant was intended, PQube Games intentionally withheld information about the grant and used it as a leverage for their own commercial gain.
“Rather than paying the grant money to us, PQube Games hid the facts about the grant’s award and added it as a recoupable minimum guarantee and then used it to negotiate the increase of their revenue share. We have only uncovered the true amount of these funds and their intended purposes in March 2022.
“We are absolutely heartbroken that a party we worked with would do this and a project we have worked on for seven years has been taken advantage of in such a way.
“Since the uncovering of this issue, we clearly cannot trust PQube Games nor continue to work together for the release of A Space For The Unbound as PQube Games has fallen considerably short not only of reasonable decency, but also of their obligations to us due to these predatory practices.
“We have to make a stand against exploitative publishers and speak up about this to stop things like this from happening again in the future. Thus, we are also announcing that we have terminated our contract with PQube Games.
“As of this moment, PQube Games is still refusing to hand over publishing control on console platforms back to us. It is with a heavy heart that we must hold back the release of A Space For The Unbound so that we can make new arrangements and ensure that it is published as intended and in a way that is consistent with our and our community’s values.”
VGC has contacted PQube for comment on the allegations.