WB Discovery Might Soon Delist Over A Dozen Adult Swim-Published Games

WB Discovery Might Soon Delist Over A Dozen Adult Swim-Published Games

Corporate entertainment giant Warner Bros. Discovery has begun sending notices to developers behind Adult Swim-published video games that their creations will be delisted and removed from digital stores in the next 60 days. While the company has yet to confirm what will happen to nearly 20 Adult Swim titles currently on Steam, the future of games like Mega Coin Squad, Wasted, and Headlander is suddenly a lot less certain.

Adult Swim Games started in 2011. It was a video game publisher funded and run by Cartoon Network’s mature, long-running animated programming block, Adult Swim. The network became popular in the early 2000s thanks to late-night hits like Venture Bros, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, and Harvey Birdman. Adult Swim Games would go on to publish some genuinely great games, including Double Fine’s Headlander, Rain World, Kingsway, Volgar The Viking, and Battle Chef Brigade. However, in recent years the publisher has mostly been dormant. Its last published title was Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time in 2020. According to a Vice report, Adult Swim Games helped fund Ray’s The Dead—an indie zombie Pikmin-like—but didn’t publish it and left game development around 2019. And now, according to three different developers, Adult Swim’s parent company WB Discovery is planning to delist titles due to “business changes.”

News of WB’s plans to delist Adult Swim games came on March 5 via a tweet from developer Owen Deery. He explained that WB had contacted him and told him it was ‘retiring’ his Adult Swim-published game Small Radios Big Televisions from both Steam and PS4. Speaking to Game Developer, Deery explained that the email wasn’t a “discussion” and was instead a “legal notice.”

“In terms of how it has affected me: it’s kind of depressing,” said Deery. “I’m very proud of the game, but I can see why they did it. Adult Swim Games hasn’t really been a thing for many years now and everyone I worked with at the publisher has long since moved on to other places. When you’re working with purely digital products nothing is going to stay around for very long.”

Game Developer also reported that it saw a copy of the email Deery received and shared the text in it:

Timeline: Retirement is scheduled within the next 60 days, during which we will remove the game from both the Steam & PS4 platforms.

Support: Our Customer Service team will be informed of the retirement date and equipped with prepared responses should users reach out. […]Thank you for your contribution to our game library and understanding during this transition. We are available should you have any questions.

Other popular games will be delisted soon, too

Over the next few days, two more developers publicly confirmed that their Adult Swim-published titles were also being delisted from digital stores after receiving similar emails.

Developer Michael Molinari shared on March 7 that he had also been contacted by WB Discovery and told that his Adult Swim-published game, Soundodger+, would be removed from Steam “within the next 60 days.”

Molinari told Polygon that WB refused to transfer ownership of the Steam release to him even after he sent the company the info needed to give him control of Soundodger+. Molinari told the outlet that a Warner Bros. Discovery representative said the decision to deny transfer of ownership back to developers “stems from logistical and resource constraints” and “the limited capacity of our team.” Polygon was told by one dev that the current Adult Swim Games team is a “skeleton crew.”

Instead, Molinari will have to republish the game to Steam, losing all the wishlists and reviews in the process. He also says WB Discovery is forcing him to remove all mentions of Adult Swim from the game and its credits, too.

“I’m all for games preservation, and this ain’t it chief,” added Molinari in a follow-up tweet.

At least one other Adult Swim-published game is set to be removed from Steam: Fist Puncher. According to a March 6 post on Steam from one of the game’s developers, Matt Kain Lewandowski, the studio received notice from Warner Bros. Discovery that Fist Puncher “will be retired and removed from Steam in the next 60 days.”

As with Soundodger+, WB is reportedly refusing to transfer ownership of the Steam games to the developers using Valve’s easy-to-use process.

“This is incredibly disappointing,” said Lewandowski. “I’m not entirely sure what will even happen if the game gets delisted, but it makes me sick to think that purchased games will presumably be removed from users’ libraries. Our community and our players have 10+ years of discussions, screenshots, gameplay footage, leaderboards, player progress, unlocked characters, Steam achievements, Steam cards, etc. which could all be lost. We have Kickstarter backers who helped fund Fist Puncher (even some who have cameo appearances in the game) who will eventually no longer be able to play it.”

Adult Swim Games

Historically, delisted games remain downloadable and replayable by folks who own the title even after they are removed from digital stores, but that’s not always the case. Kotaku has contacted WB Games and Adult Swim Games about the situation.

Lewandowski told Polygon that they are continuing to ask for control of Fist Puncher on Steam and have a plan if they aren’t able to get ownership of the original release.

“That said, if we do not get the current release of Fist Puncher transferred over to us, then we will likely re-release it under our own account,” said Lewandowski. “We still own the game and the IP so a re-release is certainly possible. And as someone who is passionate about preserving game history, I hate to see any game get lost to corporate red tape.”

Andrew Morrish, another developer behind two Adult Swim Games—Kingsway and Super Puzzle Platformer—told Polygon that he expects to be contacted by WB Discovery “soon” and added: “It’s not looking good.”

Not all Adult Swim Games remained with the publisher. Some, like Rain World, Battle Chef Brigade, and Westerado found new publishers, or the developers took back control of the games years after release.

Still, according to SteamDB, there are 19 games on Steam right now published by Adult Swim. It’s possible that in the next 60 days, some or all of these titles will be delisted by a greedy corporation concerned only with growth and shareholders that will do whatever it takes—including deleting movies before release and closing down beloved online companies like Rooster Teeth—to make the numbers go up and please some of the worst and richest people around. And while many of the delisted games will return, there’s no guarantee that all of them will and none of them will be the original versions people bought years ago. It’s a shitty situation and yet one more example of why massive corporate mergers should be stopped.

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