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Indie developer makes his game free after Warner unceremoniously tells him they're 'retiring' it from Steam and the PlayStation Store

 Small Radios Big Televisions screenshot.
Small Radios Big Televisions screenshot.

Small Radios Big Televisions creator Owen Deery says Warner Bros Discovery has informed him it's "retiring" the game from Steam and the PlayStation Store, so he's making it available for free on his studio's website.

Originally released in 2016, Small Televisions Big Radios is an indie puzzle game that has players searching abandoned factories in search of lost cassette tapes containing "boundless virtual worlds." Published by Adult Swim Games, it wasn't a big hit but was reasonably well-received critically, particularly for its visual style and soundtrack.

In a bit of good news—bad news, you can now get the game for free: Good, because hey, free game, but bad because it's being removed from sale at the behest of Adult Swim parent company Warner Bros Discovery.

"WarnerBros Discovery have informed me they will be 'retiring' my game Small Radios Big Televisions from both Steam and PS4 stores," Deery tweeted. "I've made it free to download here: https://fire-face.com/games/srbt.html Thanks for all your support."

For now, Small Radios Big Televisions remains available for purchase on both Steam and the PlayStation Store. Speaking to PC Gamer, Deery said Warner gave him a 60-day timeline for the removal of the game from both storefronts. As for why they're being taken down, he was told it was "due to internal business changes" at the company.

"My understanding is that at the very least they still need to pay someone to administer the royalty payments to developers (me), respond to any administration requests from the platforms, update promo assets if the platform requires," Deery said. "AFAIK no one who actually helped publish these Adult Swim games works there anymore, so I figure they thought it just wasn't worth their time from a business perspective to maintain 'legacy' products."

Deery said on Twitter that he'll still receive royalty payments from any Small Radios Big Televisions purchases while the game remains on sale, but that doesn't seem to be a priority for him since, y'know, he's giving it away for free at the same time. He plans to keep the game free indefinitely: "It's costing me zero dollars to make it available." The soundtrack will also remain available for purchase on Bandcamp.

Neither Adult Swim nor Warner have commented publicly on the situation, but Warner has said recently that it wants to focus its gaming efforts on free-to-play and live service games to help compensate for the volatility of big-budget, standalone game releases. Small Radios Big Televisions obviously isn't a major-money project, but it does make me wonder if some sort of wider housecleaning is in the works, especially since Adult Swim Games has been largely inactive for the past few years: Its last published game was Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time, which came out in 2020, and its Twitter account has been silent since mid-2021. I've reached out to Adult Swim and Warner for more information and will update if I receive a reply.