The developer of The Sinking City has forced its own game off Steam with a DMCA takedown.
Frogwares issued the DMCA takedown to Steam owner Valve after publisher Nacon uploaded a version of the game for sale. The Sinking City’s Steam page is now offline.
Frogwares and Nacon are embroiled in a bitter legal battle over control of horror adventure The Sinking City, which has been published on and pulled from Steam a raft of times in recent years.
This week, Frogwares accused Nacon of pirating The Sinking City and tricking Steam into uploading it for sale.
The Ukrainian studio accused Nacon of cracking, hacking and changing the game’s code and content, and “illegally” uploading the game to Steam. Frogwares also threatened new legal action against Nacon. Nacon has denied any wrongdoing.
“This last action was the straw that broke our backs,” Frogwares said. “It’s corporate bullying, and incompetent hacking, at its finest.”
Frogwares’ dispute with Nacon dates back to 2019, when it filed a lawsuit alleging the company tried to claim copyright of The Sinking City after its release, withheld milestone payments, and owed the developer around €1m in unpaid royalties.
Then, in August 2020, Frogwares pulled The Sinking City from sale. In October 2020, the Paris Court of Appeal ruled Frogwares acted unlawfully in doing so, and ordered the developer to refrain from any further action that would affect its contract with Nacon until the dispute between the two parties was resolved.
This decision opened the door to The Sinking City’s return to Steam, and last week Nacon published the game. That move prompted a tweet from Frogwares, which recommended gamers do not download its own game from Valve’s platform.
Frogwares issued a comment to Eurogamer explaining its DMCA takedown move, saying it revolved around Nacon’s alleged use of content it does not have rights to:
“We believe in a very short time, we were able to collect extremely strong evidence to indicate this version of the game was pirated and contains content that Nacon has absolutely no rights to – namely The Merciful Madness DLC,” Frogwares said.
“A DMCA notice proved to be our most effective tool to give us time to gain further potential evidence and to also start the required and lengthy additional legal processes to prevent this from happening again.
“We are aware that a final ruling on whether Frogwares are obligated to deliver a Steam version has yet not been made and could take years. As it stands, we have an appeals court ruling saying, until further notice Frogwares do not need to deliver a Steam version to Nacon. In the meantime, Nacon decided to take justice into their own hands and release a pirated build.
“We are also aware that the DMCA claim on this Steam version may only be a temporary fix and that the game may make a comeback – in this form or another. Providing partners like Valve with finalised rulings and third-party verified evidence so they can make their final decision takes time and resources. If in the meantime they decide they have to continue selling the game, we can only respect that while continuing to speak to them and provide them with more information.”
Eurogamer has asked Nacon for an updated comment. Responding to Frogwares’ tweet from last week, Nacon accused the developer of “playing the victim”, said it had paid the studio more than €10m to date.
Currently, The Sinking City remains on sale on other PC distribution platforms where it is self-published by Frogwares, such as Gamesplanet. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One version of The Sinking City, which is published by Nacon, remains up for sale on the PlayStation Store and Xbox Games Store. The Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 5 versions, which are published by Frogwares, are also currently up for sale.