The back and forth actions and statements between The Sinking City developer Frogwares and its original publisher Nacon (formerly Bigben Interactive) has continued.
Following the delisting of The Sinking City from Steam, with Frogwares accusing Nacon of uploading a pirated copy of the game from GamesPlanet and then leaning on a DCMA request to have the game removed from the store, Nacon has issued a rebuttal of the broad accusations and some of the chain of events.
With Frogwares claiming that Nacon withheld or were late with payments through development and then obfuscated the game’s sales, Nacon state:
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.
The lateness or lack of payment was one of the reasons that Frogwares sought to cancel the publishing and distribution contract held with Nacon, forcing the company to remove The Sinking City from Steam for the first time in August 2020 while the dispute goes through the courts.
Nacon say that “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”.”
However, Frogwares has refused to provide versions of The Sinking City to be listed on Steam, and say that “The French Justice refused Nacon’s demands twice, first in July 2020 and then in October 2020 during an appeal. The final decision on whether Frogwares is obligated to deliver the Steam version that Nacon is demanding is still set to be judged in trial court in the next months or even years.”
So we come to the current situation, where Nacon say that, without Frogwares’ cooperation, “it would apply a clause in the contract wherein such a case, the game would be adapted by a third party.”
This brings us to the current situation, with Nacon taking a version of the game sourced from GamesPlanet (a point they do not address in their statement) and Frogwares has had it pulled with a DCMA request to Valve.
In a statement to Vice, Frogwares say, “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. 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.”
However, Frogwares do not address a claim from Nacon that they “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.”
Honestly, it’s all just an incredibly messy situation and a total breakdown of the relationship between the two parties. it’s not the first time this has happened, either. In 2019, Frogwares’ many Sherlock Holmes games were delisted as they argued with former publisher Focus Home Interactive, and now we have a similar disagreement with Nacon.
The bickering is sure to continue, but it will require a legal ruling or settlement from the French courts before it can be put to rest and it could be years before The Sinking City can return to Steam – it is available on other platforms including Origin and GamesPlanet with Frogwares self-publishing. Speaking of which, Frogwares is hard at work on Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One, a game that they are self-publishing from beginning to end.