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The Sinking City returns to stores, legal dispute continues

The game vanished off most storefronts in August

A man stands under a spooky iron gate. Frogwares/Bigben Interactive

The Sinking City is a Lovecraftian horror detective game that was released in the summer of 2019, and then disappeared from most online storefronts in Aug. 2020 due to a dispute between publisher Nacon and developer Frogwares. Today, the game returns to storefronts. It is available for purchase on the Microsoft Store for Xbox One; it will return to Steam and the PlayStation Store at a later date.

The game was removed from Steam, the Epic Games Store, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on Aug. 25, 2020. At the time, Frogwares released an open letter detailing its side of its legal dispute with publisher Nacon, which had recently merged with Bigben Interactive. The letter claimed that Nacon had refused to pay royalties, with the total owed standing at “roughly 1 million euros.” Frogwares also took issue with Nacon’s marketing of the game, which the studio saw as misleading consumers to think Nacon was the project’s developer.

“Short version: We were forced to terminate the contract with our licensee for several breaches of our agreement,” read the statement released by Frogwares. “We urge you to read this open letter to our fans, journalists and people of the industry, to understand why this is happening and how you can still get The Sinking City.”

Today, Nacon released a statement with an update on the legal case. The dispute between Nacon and Frogwares is still pending before the French courts, and will be for several months. However, on Oct. 28, 2020, the Paris Court of Appeal rendered its first enforceable decision. The Court ruled that Frogwares had unlawfully terminated its contract, and so the contract will continue until further decisions are made. The Court ordered Frogwares to “refrain from any action on the breach of this contract, [and to] refrain from any action that impedes this continuation.”

Nacon’s statement reads: “Confirmed in its expectations by this decision and regardless of the time needed to resolve this dispute definitively, NACON is continuing its action in defense of its rights and has proceeded with the execution of this court decision by asking platforms and sites to put The Sinking City game back online so that no one is held hostage to this situation. It is however specified that insofar as some of the game’s online stakes depend on the goodwill of Frogwares to perform, their absence cannot be attributed to NACON.”

The Sinking City had remained on the Nintendo Switch storefront over the last year, as well as through a few distribution partners, like Origin and Gamesplanet.

Polygon reached out to both Nacon and Frogwares, and both parties declined to provide comment.

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