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PQube under fire once more from indie developer claiming funds withheld

UPDATE: PQube responds.

UPDATE 2/9/22: PQube has issued a lengthy response to yesterday's claims by indie developer Corecell, in which it was accused of witholding funds from the Thai studio behind AeternoBlade 2.

The statement discusses issues with Corecell, and claims that while it was "prepared to pay the full guarantee for the game", this was held back by "significant quality issues" it identified. PQube also offers a more general response to what it sees as the "inevitable" challenges of working with numerous developers over the years.

PQube's response lies below in full:

"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 two 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 support Corecell in any way possible.

"Throughout our 12 years of distribution and publishing history, we have worked with numerous partners and have released over 200 games. PQube have 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 lifecycle. 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."

ORIGINAL STORY 1/9/22: Publisher PQube is under fire once again from another developer claiming funds have been withheld.

Last week Coffee Talk developer Toge Productions released a statement explaining issues with the publisher that left the team "feeling manipulated and exploited".

Now Corecell, the Thai developer behind AeternoBlade 2, has released a damning statement against the publisher to "help other indie game developers to avoid what has happened to us and inform our fans about our situation".

PQube has published AeternoBlade 2 on Switch, PS4, and Xbox One in Europe since 2019 in agreement with Corecell, which claims the publisher agreed to pay a minimum guarantee.

"However, 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," reads the statement.

"We have been trying to resolve this issue with Pqube but were unable to reach a solution, leading us to terminate the publishing agreement around September 2020. However, PQube has refused to return the publishing control on the console platforms back to us and continues to sell and take all revenues from AeternoBlade 2.

"PQube offered to hand over publishing control to us only if we agreed to keep this matter secret, but we no longer wanted to be involved in any more deals with PQube," the statement continues. "We knew something was not right, but as a small independent developer, we could not afford to pay legal fees to fight the case in another country. We have contacted each platform to ask for the return of our publishing control. So far, only Nintendo and Sony have taken our game off their Europe stores, and we still have not received any revenue from the sales in Europe.

"Because of this incident, we had to do various additional works to recover from our financial situation. We promise that we will soon be back to patch the problems and continue to release new contents for AeternoBlade 2. We are always thankful for everyone who has been supporting us. We want everyone to have fun with our game, satisfied with our product. We hope our fans understand our situation and hope you will continue to support us."

The developer followed up its statement on Twitter, stating: "We do not wish for negative and harmful action toward PQube. What we want is to explain our situation to our fans, get our game back, and move on."

It also tweeted Toge Productions saying "you are not alone".

Eurogamer has contacted PQube for comment.

In response to Toge Productions, PQube said it had funded the developer "over and above" the grant and that Toge Productions has "sought for some time to unilaterally enforce unreasonable revised terms."

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Ed Nightingale avatar

Ed Nightingale

Deputy News Editor

Ed has an interest in streaming, people and communities, and giving a voice to marginalised people.