[Update – March 2 @ 6:56 PM ET]: Following the report brought by developer Frogwares over hacking allegations involving Nacon and The Sinking City, Steam has delisted the game.
The legal battle between Frogwares, the developer behind The Sinking City, and the game’s former publisher Nacon, is heating up. In a post made on its blog, Frogwares is claiming that Nacon cracked, pirated, and then sold copies of The Sinking City on Steam.
The relationship between Frogwares and Nacon has been tumultuous since the two companies began to collaborate on The Sinking City. Originally, the companies signed a contract in which Nacon would be a licensee that could commercialize and sell the game, while Frogwares would receive funding for development, profit from hitting milestones, and would retain the rights to the IP. Issues quickly arose, with Frogwares claiming that Nacon was missing development payments. Soon after, Nacon allegedly demanded that Frogwares hand over the source code for The Sinking City, which the developer refused to do. Frogwares also claims that upon the game’s release on June 27, 2019, Nacon canceled a part of their deal that would pay the developer profits for hitting milestones. This decision prompted the start of a legal battle between the two companies.
Between then and August 25, 2020, Frogwares alleges that Nacon violated its copyright of The Sinking City multiple times. The developer has also claimed that Nacon has purposefully been creating the perception that it is the owner of The Sinking City IP. This eventually resulted in the game being delisted across almost all platforms on August 25, 2020.
Allegations of cracking, hacking, and piracy
Despite all of this, The Sinking City ended up back on Steam last week on February 26. This was apparently a surprise to Frogwares, which had terminated its contract with Nacon on April 20, 2020, taking away any rights to commercialize the game the publisher held. According to Frogwares, Nacon accomplished this by stealing, hacking, and changing the source code of The Sinking City.
Frogwares is claiming that the version of The Sinking City on Steam is actually a pirated version of the game’s release on Gamesplanet. The developer alleges that Nacon employees, at the instruction of its CEO, Alain Falc, to crack, hack, and pirate the game, changing its content so it could be sold on Steam under the Nacon name.
Through its post, and the video accompanying it, Frogwares points out the differences between its Gamesplanet version of The Sinking City and the version uploaded to Steam. According to Frogwares, the only way Nacon could have made any changes to the game was by decompiling it using a key made by Frogwares.
“To be clear, this is hacking,” said a representative for Frogwares in the video. “And when hacking has the purpose to steal a product or make money with it, that’s called piracy.”
Frogwares apparently knows how Nacon acquired this key and claims that the hacked version of the game on Steam uses the same one. As of right now, it seems that Frogwares will be retaliating with the full force of French copyright law.
“The owner of Nacon, Alain Falc will have to face the legal consequences of the decision of pirating and stealing Frogwares property,” reads the developer’s post.
Apparently, those consequences can include up to seven years in jail and a fine of up to €750,000 EUR.