Indonesian developers Mojiken Studio have delayed the launch of their upcoming game A Space For The Unbound. In a statement together with their Eastern publishers Toge Productions, they’ve accused their console publisher for the western regions, PQube of withholding information and funds. More specifically that the publisher used their game that’s set in rural Indonesia in the late 90s for a diversity grant. To leverage a greater share of the game’s revenue without informing the developers.
Mojiken Studio is a well-established indie game developer within this region. With their gorgeous thoughtful games winning awards and recognition worldwide. You may know them from their games When The Past Was Around and She And The Light Bearer.
The team they were left feeling “manipulated and exploited” by the UK-based publisher’s actions. The Indonesian team have now terminated their contract with PQube and delayed A Space For The Unbound until they can find another publisher.
The developers posted a joint statement to the game’s official Twitter account, which reads:
Dear space divers,
We are sad to announce that we will be delaying the release of A Space For The Unbound until further notice.
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.
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 7 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.
Signed, Toge Productions and Mojiken Studio
Toge Productions and Mojiken Studio allege that PQube Games hid the facts about the grant, adding it as a recoupable minimum guarantee, and then used it to negotiate the increase of their revenue share. The statement says the studio only found out about this in March 2022, and as such, “we clearly cannot trust PQube Games nor continue to work together.”
PQube has responded with a statement denying the allegations, and stating that it has fulfilled its role as a publisher despite a history of “delays and difficulties” and an attempt by Toge Productions to “unilaterally enforce unreasonable revised terms to our agreement.”
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.
A Space For The Unbound
A Space for the Unbound is a beautiful slice-of-life game. Set in rural Indonesia in the late 1990s it stars Atma and Raya, two high school sweethearts. It deals with a deep dive into a story of anxiety, depression, and supernatural powers. All encompassed in beautiful pixel-art scenes, in fact, it was on our list of gorgeous pixel-art games to wishlist.
The game was originally scheduled to release on Steam, Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. It’s unclear when, or even if, the game will see a release now that the publishers and developers are entering into this conflict.
Mojiken Studios are based in Surabaya, Indonesia, and has always made games rooted strongly in their team’s Indonesian identity. They say they issued the statement about PQube to “make a stand against exploitative publishers and speak up about this to stop things like this from happening again in the future”.