Warner Bros. Discovery Gives In And Transfers Games Back To Developers’ Steam Accounts

from the phew dept

A couple of months back, we talked about an odd decision Warner Bros. Discovery made to simply “retire” a bunch of games it published, mostly from small indie studios, from the various online stores where they were sold, such as Steam. This resulted in anger from those who bought these games and confusion from those who developed them. Buyers were pissed because retired games would either disappear from the accounts of those who bought them, or else would force them to get re-published versions of the games from indie developers that would be without all of the data and achievements players had gotten playing them. The confusion from the developers was over the fact that WBD could simply transfer these games to those developers’ storefront accounts rather than losing anything at all for the customers. On Steam, for instance, comments from some of those same developers demonstrate that this process is trivially easy.

In a comment on that Ars post, Matt Kain, developer of Adult Swim Games’ Fist Puncher, noted that they had received the same “retired” notice from WBD. “When we requested that Warner Bros simply transfer the game over to our studio’s Steam publisher account so that the game could stay active, they said no. The transfer process literally takes a minute to initiate (look up “Transferring Applications” in the Steamworks documentation), but their rep claimed they have simply made the universal decision not to transfer the games to the original creators,” Kain wrote.

This led to all kinds of speculation as to why WBD was going down this road. It was an obvious PR nightmare, telling those who bought published products from WBD that some or all of their stuff was just gone. Some speculated that this was being done as some kind of tax write-off strategy. Others suggested it was just that the company didn’t want the headache of figuring out the sales taxes on these titles anymore and just wanted it all to go away.

Either way, thanks to the public pressure and the reporting done on the subject, it appears that WBD has relented and will, in fact, transfer the games to the developer accounts on these storefronts.

Late last week, one of the Adult Swim Games creators impacted by Warner Bros. Discovery’s (WBD) seeming shutdown posted on X (formerly Twitter) that he received an email from Warner Bros. indicating that his Duck Game was “safe.” “[T]he game is being returned to corptron along with [its] store pages on all platforms,” Landon wrote. The same went for Owen Deery, whose notice from WBD about his game Small Radios Big Televisions brought attention to the media conglomerate’s actions and who posted that his game, too, will have its ownership and store listings returned to him.

As noted by PC Gamer, the 60-day timeline originally provided to developers for their games to be delisted has passed, and yet most of the Adult Swim Games titles are still up.

And so, for now, it seems that WBD is going through the transfer process for these games. We don’t have confirmation it is doing so for all the games in question, but it would be sort of insane if the company were picking and choosing which games to transfer and which not to.

But it’s hard for this to make anyone feel like their purchased content is safe, no? If that content lived at the pleasure of WBD’s whims, which, as we just saw, can change on a dime, what prevents the company from making anti-customer decisions with other content in the future?

Filed Under: adult swim games, duck game, indie studios, retired video games, video games

Companies: warner bros. discovery

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