Space for the Unbound Devs Accuse PQube Games of Withholding Grants for Leverage

The game has been delayed indefinitely as a result.

A Space for the Unbound developers Toge Productions and Mojiken Studio have accused publisher PQube Games of withholding money gained through a diversity fund meant to help underrepresented developers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lengthy statement posted to the game’s official social channels claims PQube used Toge Productions and Mojiken Studio’s status as Indonesian companies to acquire an unknown amount of money from a “well known console platform” as part of a diversity initiative, and rather than give it to the developers as was intended, added it as a recoupable minimum guarantee and used it to negotiate a higher revenue share. The developers learned of this in March 2022, and have now ended their publishing contract with PQube Games. However, the publisher is still refusing to hand over publishing control for A Space for the Unbound on consoles back to the developers, and as such, the game has been delayed indefinitely as the studio seeks out a better publishing agreement elsewhere.

The full statement reads as follows:

“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.”

In a follow-up message, Toge Productions and Mojiken Studio asked that people not boycott or review bomb other games published by PQube Games, as this will adversely affect the developers who are unrelated to this situation.

“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.”

In other news:

In a statement issued to Fanbyte, PQube says Toge Productions has attempted to “enforce unreasonable revised terms to [the companies’] agreement,” and that the publisher has made “significant efforts to accommodate.” The full statement, which stops short of acknowledging the specifics of the accusations, reads as follows:

“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”.