Update [4th March 2021]: Nacon has made a public response. The story is updated with the latest.
Adventure game The Sinking City is getting quite a bit of buzz as of late, but for different and legal reasons.
Previously, there was a contractual dispute that happened between the game’s developer Frogwares and publisher Nacon, which resulted in the title being removed from most digital PC gaming storefronts back in 2020. At the start of 2021, the French court declared that Frogwares terminated its contract with the publisher unlawfully, thus the terms of the sale were restored and the game was on Steam again. It was halted soon after.
The Sinking City reappeared on Steam once again on 27th February last week. However, Frogwares put out a public “buyers beware” message and a subsequent video stating that the Steam version is not the same one released by the studio. Frogwares explained that Nacon allegedly “cracked and pirated The Sinking City” in order to re-release the game on Steam.
Here’s the long explanation. The video explanation is below, showing comparisons between the original master copy and the “cracked” version. Basically, Nacon allegedly decompiled the version meant for Gamesplanet via using a key to get around the Unreal Engine encryption system.
The post and video stated that neither Stam nor Gamesplanet are at fault; it directed its ire towards Nacon.
“Nacon has proved they are willing to do anything possible to serve their interest, including illegal actions.
They ignored the decision of the Justice and bypassed them, pirating The Sinking City in order to deceive their partners, Steam in the first place. There are long term damages we need to take care of, Nacon unpacked our data, stole our source code and used it.
Nacon can create a new version of The Sinking City using our assets; they can resell, reuse, recycle our content and our tools etc. We have to take the measure of what happened now and follow the best path on the legal side to prevent anything like this happening again.”
What Did Nacon Have To Say About This?
The publisher has made the following statement in response to these allegations.
“We regret that Frogwares persists in disrupting the release of the Sinking City. It’s easy to play the victim, but all we seek is that Frogwares respect its commitments both in the contract and as demanded by the courts. In regards to feedback on the release of the Sinking City on Steam, this is an official and complete version.
However, due to a lack of cooperation with Frogwares, we are unable to integrate Steam-specific features (cloud saving/achievements). Thus, this version contains only the base game, without any additional content. Despite this, we have organized the release so that fans on Steam can enjoy the game.”
Nacon also has made a public response, stating that the claims from Frogwares are “unjust allegations” and asserting that it is “contractually the sole exclusive distributor of The Sinking City game on Steam.”
“By encouraging the gaming community via Twitter not to buy the game on Steam, Frogwares is once again sabotaging our investments in the game.”
The publisher has also stated that it has paid Frogwares €8.9 million (US$10.71 million), including royalties, financing of the game’s development, and full payment for the Steam version.
We’ll be keeping an eye on this story, since it’s still ongoing.