Following an accusation of piracy lobbed at it by The Sinking City developer Frogwares, Nacon has fired back at the developer with a statement arguing that Frogwares' lack of cooperation in getting the game to Steam triggered a clause in its contract that allows the publisher to alter and host an alternative version of the game on the platform.
It's the latest in an increasingly messy back and forth between the two companies, centered around The Sinking City and an ongoing dispute over the publishing agreement between Nacon and Frogwares.
Earlier in the conflict, The Sinking City was removed from sale due to the disagreement but, as of this year, Nacon was given the green light to relist the game on several platforms, including Steam. That's where things get especially messy.
Frogwares tweeted a PSA shortly after the game reappeared on Steam, warning players not to buy what it later called an illegitimate version of the game. Nacon, in a statement shared to Steam, then argued that the version it published was "official and complete" despite Frogwares' claims. That led to Frogwares releasing a 9 minute long video outlining how the Steam version of The Sinking City was actually an altered version of the game distributed on GamesPlanet, and accusing Nacon of essentially selling a pirated version of the game.
"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," explains Nacon.
This is the justification given in today's statement for what Frogwares labels piracy: Nacon worked with one of its subsidiaries to adapt a different version of the game for Steam after Frogwares' alleged refusal to cooperate.
Last night however, Frogwares was able to get the game removed from Steam via a DMCA takedown. Now, Nacon is arguing that it only published that altered version of The Sinking City because of Frogwares' refusal to provide it with the Steam version of the game, something Nacon says was ordered by a Paris court during its ongoing legal dispute.
"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," explains that statement from Nacon. "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'."
Nacon goes on to describe Frogwares' actions as deliberate sabotage against its attempts to recoup its investment in the game's development, funding Nacon says exceeds 10 million euros. It argues that Frogwares refusal to hand a Steam-ready copy of The Sinking City allowed it to seek out other means of getting the game up on the platform.
Beyond that, it also reaffirms that it has exclusive distribution rights for The Sinking City on Steam and counters Frogwares' earlier accusations by saying the developer was and is still entitled to any royalties generated by Steam sales (should the game reappear on the platform.)
The statement closes with a loose legal threat against Frogwares for 'its aggressive and prejudicial comments', making it seem unlikely this argument will see a calm resolution any time soon.
Update: Interestingly, a statement published by Frogwares regarding its DMCA takedown of The Sinking City seems to be at odds with some of the claims made by Nacon. Specifically, Nacon says the court has directed Frogwares to comply with Nacon's desire to bring The Sinking City back to Steam.
Meanwhile, in Frogwares' statement: "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."