The battle over The Sinking City between Frogwares and Nacon has just become much more complicated: Frogwares has alleged that Nacon has pirated last week's Steam release of The Sinking City.
Late last week, The Sinking City returned to Steam after a lengthy absence. The game had been pulled from sale due to an ongoing dispute between the developer Frogwares and the publisher Nacon. A French judge later ruled that both parties had to continue to follow the existing contract while this dispute was settled in court, effectively allowing Nacon to return the game to sale.
The Sinking City finally returned to Steam late last week, prompting Frogwares to alert gamers that it had "not created" this particular version of the game in a tweet.
"Frogwares has not created the version of @thesinkingcity that is today on sale on @Steam," read the tweet. "We do not recommend the purchase of this version. More news soon."
That tweet sat unanswered over the weekend and Nacon has finally responded earlier today — now, Frogwares has just released a lengthy explanation filled with some very serious allegations.
Nacon's Initial Response to Friday's Release of The Sinking City
Nacon formulated a response to Frogwares' Friday tweet, explaining some of the missing content and commenting on the current legal case.
"For the release of The Sinking City on Steam, published by Nacon, Frogwares posted on Twitter urging players not to buy it," the statement began. "We regret that Frogwares persists in disrupting the release of the Sinking City."
The statement claims that Nacon has already paid "more than 10 million Euros" to Frogwares and that the game's publisher had also made use of its marketing and promotion teams to the tune of "several million Euros worth of investment." Furthermore, it explains that it was unable to include Steam achievements or any of the DLC due to "a lack of cooperation with Frogwares[.]"
"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," the statement continued.
Frogwares Alleges Nacons 'Illegally Uploaded' The Sinking City to Steam
Nacon's response is understandable in the context of the ongoing legal dispute between the two companies. Frogwares, however, has fired back with a statement of its own — and this time, the developer of The Sinking City is making serious accusations about Nacon.
"The following video/blog post that we prepared shows how our former licensee NACON has cracked, hacked, changed our game’s code and content and illegally uploaded our game The Sinking City to Steam on February 26th 2021, in order to commercialize it under their own name without our knowledge," Frogwares' statement began. "Some of you may have heard about our troubles in the past. This last action was the straw that broke our backs."
Frogwares claims that the version of the game currently uploaded to Steam is actually a tailor-made build of the game that was created for the digital retailer Gamesplanet. Frogwares notes the following differences between the current Steam version and its own version of the game on Gamesplanet:
- The Nacon Logo has now replaced the Gamesplanet logo; an official Frogwares licensee.
- The loading screen is different; once again the Gamesplanet logo is removed.
- When on the main menu
- the advertisement for Sherlock Holmes Chapter One is not present on the lower left screen,
- the mention of the distribution platform on the lower right screen is also absent.
- the “more games” menu option is not present.
Frogwares also raised several additional points comparing the two versions of the game on PC.
- The folder names and structure is identical to any of Frogwares versions (Gamesplanet; EA origins, Etc…
- The executable has a similar name but is of a different size than any of our own versions implying modification of the file.
- The packages are 17Gb, this size corresponds to the versions created around summer 2020 when we switched to a new compressing method to reduce the game size for download purposes. Before this date the only available PC version – on the Epic Game Store – was around 30Gb in size.
After figuring out these key differences between the two versions, Frogwares has come to a conclusion: it alleges that Nacon has pirated the Gamesplanet version of the game and altered it without Frogwares' permission.
"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," Frogwares' statement read. "The hackers didn’t even care to use a different encryption key than the one we created when recompiling."
"We therefore opened the packages and we identified immediately in the config files the version that was stolen and hacked: it is a commercial version coming from the site Gamesplanet that was purchased by Nacon like any other player."
Frogwares states that it believes neither Steam nor Gamesplanet did anything wrong here; rather, it asserts that Nacon legally purchased a version of the game from Gamesplanet, modified it without Frogwares' permission, and then uploaded that modified version to Steam without informing Valve of its origin.
"Let it be made extremely clear here, that we still fully trust Steam and Gamesplanet," Frogwares' statement read. "We believe that the Gamesplanet version was purchased legally by Nacon through the Gamesplanet site and then hacked. Nacon then submitted this version to Steam who were in no way informed of the game’s pirated state. This version was then offered by Nacon to all the listed legitimate distribution sites without them being informed that this is a pirated version."
Frogwares has stated its intent to pursue legal action against Nacon. I've captured the broad strokes of what's going on with the situation; you can read Frogwares' full breakdown of The Sinking City's latest release on Steam and judge for yourself. We've reached out to Nacon for comment and will update this article when we receive a reply.
Update: Frogwares has escalated the situation by DMCAing The Sinking City on Steam; Nacon has released a statement in response.
What do you think about Frogwares' allegations about the latest Steam release of The Sinking City? Who do you think will ultimately win this legal battle? Let us know in the comments below!