Warner Bros. Discovery is looking to remove games published by Adult Swim

Posted on March 11, 2024

Warner Brothers Discovery (WBD) is on a rampage. First, it started with cancelling movies like The Wonder Twins, Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt in 2022. In the same year, they removed 25 animated titles from their streaming service without warning. In 2023, WBD killed Coyote vs. Acme. In-between, there were a bunch of layoffs, and the release of Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League. Even with the disastrous launch of Suicide Squad, where due to a bug, players received end-game spoilers, WBD is still doubling down on live-service games. And after 21 years of creating online videos, WBD shuts down Austin-based production company Rooster Teeth. But they’re not finished, as reported by Polygon, Warner Bros. is set to delist Adult Swim published games from digital storefronts.

An image from Soundodger+, one of the games Warner Bros. Discovery is delisting

Unlike the creators who received no notice of the removal of their works, WBD is letting devs know that their games will be “retiring” soon. At the moment, WBD has reached out to three studios, the fate of the others are unknown at this moment. Owen Deery, creator of Small Radios Big Televisions, said on X that WBD is retiring his game from Steam and PS4. In return, Deery uploaded the game as a .zip file to his website and allowed people to download it. When asked if WBD gave him a delisted time frame, Deery responded with “within the next few weeks”.

Developer of 2013’s Soundodger+, Michael Molinari, spoke to Polygon and said that he received a warning. But, unlike Deery, Molinari’s time frame is “within the next 60 days”. Whether WBD is delisting it or deleting it is up in the air. Molinari pleaded to the representative to “transfer ownership to my company”. Including a link to Steam’s transfer page, explaining to the rep that it “literally [takes] three clicks”. Molinari still retains all the game rights and IP of Soundodger+. The rep rejected his request.

The reason as to why WBD can’t transfer ownership? Because of “the limited capacity of our team, and logistical and resource constraints”. Molinari stated that he’ll need to scrub all mentions of Adult Swim Games, like the credits. “I’m a huge supporter of games preservation, and this is a direct blow to properly crediting the people that worked on a game”, Molinari said.

An image from Small Radios Big Televisions, one of the games Warner Bros. Discovery is delisting

Video Games preservation is important. We’ve lost too many games to the sands of time due to those in suits not taking digital preservation seriously. In 2023, Video Game History Foundation reported that 87% of classic video games are essentially endangered, with only 13% of video game history saved. That’s why emulators are important in the fight to preserve video game history. Just this week, Nintendo won a lawsuit against popular open-source emulation software yuzu.

But we’ve seen this before, companies delisting games. Whether it’s legal disputes or because it’s a Tuesday. There are websites dedicated to reporting on delisted games. In 2023, Nintendo closed down the eShop for the 3DS and WiiU. While it was bound to happen, it locked down games that were never ported to modern systems. Because of that, the only way to buy these games was to either shell out too much money from some scalper on eBay… or pirate it. In the end, neither Nintendo nor the development team will receive money.

Matt Lewandowski, co-owner of Team2Bit, creators of Fist Puncher, said he’s also been in contact with WBD. Lewandowski stated that the representative “blamed the impending removal… on internal business changes”. When asked if they could transfer the game to Lewandowski, the rep said they couldn’t due to “logistical and resource constraints”. Team2Bit still owns the IP, and as it seems that WBD won’t transfer the titles to these studios. Games like Fist Puncher will just be re-released under their own account. Lewandowski is passionate about game preservation, “I hate to see any game get lost to corporate red tape”.

An image from Fist Puncher, one of the games Warner Bros. Discovery is delisting

WDB haven’t reached out to some studios about the delisting, but with this news coming out, they “expect to”.

It’s a sad day for studios, for teams behind these games, and for fans as well. Many people have fond memories of playing games published by Adult Swim. I remember playing Robot Unicorn Attack. But due to the removal of Adobe Flash Player in 2020, Adult Swim removed the game. But it’s not all bad news! Due to preservation, the game is available via the Internet Archive, thanks to the open-source flash player emulator, Ruffle. Hopefully, many of the games published by Adult Swim will be preserved, so fans can continue to enjoy and support the creators affected by WBD’s “cost-cutting” initiatives.