Scribblenauts Unlimited - the fourth game in the magical series - released on PC for the first time this week. Kind of. If you're a North American, you'll see the game available on your Steam account, and indeed the Wii-U version in your stores. But if you're outside of the former colonies, prepare to significantly increase the tax on any tea you might want to sell them, because there's no sign of it at all.
Warner Bros. are an especially odd publisher. There's almost never any information about releases or availability on the websites for their games. Take a look at the similarly missing Lego Lord Of The Rings' site... er, there isn't one. Just Lego's page for it, with Warner offering only a generic info page that still says it's "coming this Fall". Lego's own page contains no useful information either. According to GAME, it's due out tomorrow in the UK, not that you'd know it from Warner. And nor is it listed as forthcoming on Steam.
Scribblenauts Unlimited is even more peculiar - no mention of release dates, no mention of regional delays, no mention of how to buy it. It's out in the US, and it's on Steam there. In the UK, a Steam search for it brings you one result - a trailer - that when you try to watch tells you that it's not available in your region. Search GAME for that one, and there's not even a recognition that a PC game exists, while the Wii-U version is listed as "TBC-2013". It's a launch title for the Wii-U in the States, and with the Nintendo console out here next Friday, it's clearly not going to be one over here.
There are vague allusions out there that the EU version will have an "early 2013" release, while the Australian version comes out in a week. And so it's inevitably due to localisation. A game that contains such a vast number of words - that's a lot of translating for Europe. But not any translating at all for the UK, which once again raises that frustrating and confusing question about why. When Steam is regioned like the builders of the Berlin Wall couldn't stop themselves and divided the rest of the continent, and of course brick and mortar shops don't tend to get up and walk across the channel, what stops at least a digital release of a finished game from being released in what I like to think of as the premier English-speaking country?
Edit: Readers are telling us that the US version has multiple languages, so it's not that then. And a few people have pointed us toward a NeoGaf thread in which a 5th Cell developer says he can't explain the delay, but it's not their choice.
"Nope. It's due to stuff I can't talk about until 2013. Scribblenauts and Super Scribblenauts were released NA and EU the same day. Trust me. I want your money. It's due to things outside of development."
Good grief, what's going on?
I've asked Warner about the delay, and have been told the rather mysterious, "Details about the European distribution of Scribblenauts Unlimited are coming soon."
Oddly, I do have a working version of Scribblenauts Unlimited via Steam for review purposes, so I'll be bringing you my thoughts on what is seeming a very lovely game pretty soon.