The Russian video game publisher 1C-SoftClub decided not to release the video game Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments because it includes a screensaver honoring the “Heaven’s Hundred” victims killed during the Maidan demonstrations in Kyiv earlier this year, reports Ukrainska Pravda, September 26.
The game series about the famous detective is developed by Frogwares, an Irish-Ukrainian video game development studio with a main office in Kyiv.
According to Frogwares producer Olha Ryzhko, the studio staff held a meeting recently and decided to include a screen saver dedicated to the Heaven’s Hundred in the introduction to the game. However, several weeks ago the Russian publisher informed them it would not issue the game in Russian speaking countries if it contained the screensaver.
As company president Waël Amr explained: “First they asked us to remove this screensaver completely. We said ‘no.’ Then they asked us to remove it for the Russian market. We said ‘no.’ After all, they never even explained why it should be removed.”
According to Amr, around 350,000 copies of the game will be issued. Of those some 10,000 are geared for Russian gamers, which is relatively few. “But the Russian-speaking population should not worry since we ourselves will develop a new version localized for the Russian (market) that will be even better,” he said. “Naturally we have nothing against Russian-speaking people. In the CIS, the game will be sold through Steam (software distribution platform — Ed.), but will not be available on consoles.”
Frogwares is an independent video game development studio founded in Ukraine in 2000 by two French expatriates: Waël Amr and Pascal Ensenat. The name “Frogwares” comes from “froggies” a popular English language moniker for the French. The studio, which began with a six-member team, now numbers over 60 employees and has become one of the largest independent game development studios in Ukraine. It is best known for its multi-platform adventure series for the retail market starring Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.
When asked why the French executives chose to establish their company in Ukraine, Studio Director Pascal Ensenat said it was because of the huge potential offered by local artists and programmers as well as their courage. “We believe a lot of people in Western Europe have lost this kind of spirit,” he said. “There is still a certain sense of importance to your job and your company here.”