A Space for the Unbound devs speak up against "exploitative publishers"

Heidi Nicholas - August 24th 2022

The developers behind slice-of-life adventure game A Space for the Unbound have accused publisher PQube Games of withholding a diversity fund meant for the devs. [updated]

Update: There have been two developments on this story — firstly, PQube has now responded, with a full statement given to Eurogamer:
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.
Secondly, Toge Productions and Mojiken Studio have shared an additional statement, adding, "We of Toge Productions and Mojiken Studio do not encourage nor wish for people to do negative or harmful actions such as review bombing, boycotting, or others on other games published by PQube Games. Doing so will affect the developers who created the game and have nothing to do with our situation with A Space for the Unbound. All we ask is for people to read our statement and for your understanding of our delay."

Original story: Toge Productions and Mojiken Studio have confirmed that they have terminated their contract with PQube Games, the company which had been responsible for handling the console publishing of A Space for the Unbound in western regions, after the publisher "had done certain things which have left us feeling manipulated and exploited."

Toge Productions and Mojiken Studio confirm they've terminated contract with PQube Games

"We are sad to announce that we will be delaying the release of A Space for the unbound until further notice," the team said in a statement. "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 in 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 developers claim that in August 2020, PQube Games used the developers' Indonesian heritage to receive a diversity fund "from a well-known console platform," which was intended for underrepresented developers. The team goes on to claim that instead of using the grant for its intended purpose by giving it to the developers, "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." The devs say they only found out about the amount of the fund and what it was actually intended for 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," the statement continues. "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 against in the future," the developers say, again confirming that they have terminated their contract with PQube Games. Lastly, they claim that PQube Games is "refusing to hand over publishing control on console platforms," and that "with a heavy heart" they need to delay A Space for the Unbound's release to "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."

A Space for the Unbound is set in Indonesia in the 90s, and focuses on two high school kids: Atma and Ruya, who, along with trying to find themselves, deal with the end of school, and work out their relationship with each other, have to get to grips with Atma's strange power to explore the minds of others.

We'll watch for any updates from Toge Productions and Mojiken Studio, or PQube Games.