The Sinking City pulled off Steam again following Frogwares’ row with Nacon [Update]

By Sherif Saed
2 March 2021 09:30 GMT

The Sinking City drama continues, as Frogwares accuses Nacon of uploading a pirated copy to Steam.

Update 2: Publisher Nacon has issued a statement in the wake of Frogwares pulling The Sinking City off Steam with a DMCA strike. The full statement is below.

Frogwares published an article on March 1st, 2021, accusing Nacon of having “pirated” the game The Sinking City; Nacon hereby wishes to set the record straight regarding these unjustified accusations.

Nacon is contractually the sole exclusive distributor of The Sinking City game on Steam.

Nacon has contributed to the financing of development and the payment of royalties to Frogwares to the tune of 8.9 million euros to date (including the full payment for a version of the game for Steam), making the global investment far above 10 million euros when integrating the marketing costs. Contrary to Frogwares’ allegations, Nacon has paid all amounts due.

Today, unless Frogwares is acting in bad faith, it has no reason not to make the game available to Nacon on Steam.

In the past, Frogwares has improperly relied on accusations regarding a lack of payment to refuse delivery of the game on Steam, at which point they tried to unsuccessfully terminate the contract. The Paris Court of Appeal deemed this action “manifestly unlawful”; ordering the continuation of the contract and encouraging Frogwares to refrain “from any action which would impede such continuation”.

In line with the courts’ decision, Nacon has repeatedly and unsuccessfully requested that Frogwares make the game available on Steam, failing which it would apply a clause in the contract wherein such a case, the game would be adapted by a third party. Frogwares then attempted, without the knowledge of Nacon and in violation of our rights, to make the game available on Steam without mentioning Nacon in its capacity as the publisher. This is, therefore clear proof that no technical impossibility prevents the game from being put back on Steam.

Despite this blocking situation created exclusively by Forgwares, Nacon has allowed players to access the game on Steam while still expressly indicating the ownership of Frogwares’ rights to the game. Frogwares will also receive the royalties generated by Steam sales.

By encouraging the gaming community via Twitter not to buy the game on Steam, Frogwares is once again sabotaging our investments in the game.

Nacon obviously regrets this conflict, for which it is not responsible, and for which it did everything possible to avoid.

Nacon regrets all the more that Frogwares has demanded the withdrawal of the game from Steam, thus depriving the gaming community of the unique experience provided by The Sinking City.

Nacon reserves the right to take legal action against Forgwares for its aggressive and prejudicial comments. Forgwares has been careful not to indicate that all court decisions in the dispute between Nacon and Frogwares have thus far been favourable to Nacon.

Update: Frogwares has issued a DMCA strike to take down its own game off Steam. This was enough to get the game removed, and you can no longer buy it on Valve’s storefront.

Valve’s Doug Lombardi told Vice that Valve took down the game in response to the DMCA strike by Frogwares.

“The Sinking City has been in dispute in French courts for a while. An interim decision last fall appeared to give Nacon the right to distribute the game on Steam while the litigation proceeded,” Lombardi explained.

“However, today we received a DMCA take-down notice for the version that Nacon recently shipped, so we have responded to that notice.”

The original story follows.

Original Story: The legal dispute that kicked off in 2019 between The Sinking City developer Frogwares, and its publisher Nacon (formerly Bigben Interactive), has produced another episode.

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After the game’s absence on Steam, it returned in February, only for Forgwares to call on fans not to buy it. Now, the developer has explained why that is. In a lengthy, detailed blog post, Frogwares claimed that Nacon had uploaded a cracked copy of The Sinking City on Steam, removing all mention of Frogwares in the process.

As a result of the legal dispute, the game was pulled from sale on Steam, but Nacon’s solution, according to Frogwares, was to purchase a copy of the game on retailer Gamesplanet’s website, modify it to remove logos, server checks and other information it didn’t want, and recompiling it. This, Forwares noted, is the third time Nacon tried to do this, and the second time on Steam alone.

Frogwares was able to offer such a detailed explanation because the version on sale on Gamesplanet was submitted by the developers, meaning Nacon had to allegedly “hack the game using a secret key created by Frogwares”.

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“What we did is that we downloaded the Steam version that Nacon commercialized, and we used our own encryption key on the archive and it worked. The hackers didn’t even care to use a different encryption key than the one we created when recompiling,” explained Frogwares.

Frogwares added that the version Nacon bought was the deluxe edition, which includes DLC content created for the game which Nacon does not own. The post goes as far as detailing the process used to decompile and modify the game, and even name the person Frogwares believes did the programming necessary.

It’s certainly a mess, and it has now extended to the game’s Steam page, where the two most recent posts contradict each other, for the simple reason that both Frogwares and Nacon have access to The Sinking City’s store page.

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