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The Sinking City developer says own publisher pirated and hacked its game

It’s an ongoing dispute

Charles Reed uses his Mind’s Eye to imagine a phantom version of a crime scene. Image: Frogwares/Bigben Interactive
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

The dispute between Frogwares, the studio behind The Sinking City, and its publisher, Nacon, has sunk to new depths. Near the end of February, Frogwares told fans not to buy the game on Steam, because the product was “not created” by the team. More recently, Parisian company Nacon rebutted by telling fans that the Steam version was “official and complete.” But now, Frogware has new allegations: As the studio tells it, Nacon hacked and sold The Sinking City in order to list it on Steam.

On March 1, Frogwares clarified the original claim in a very technical post that illustrates why the team thinks Nacon hacked and pirated its game. In addition, according to the Frogwares post, “[Nacon’s] version deleted all the achievements we prepared, thus removing a key feature of the Steam community.”

Nacon responded to the allegations via a post on Steam. “Frogwares persists in disrupting the release of The Sinking City,” the post states. The post then goes on to describe the involvement Nacon had throughout the development of The Sinking City, such as financing and marketing the project.

Nacon’s statement also attempts to refute claims that the version on Steam is not a complete version of the game — but also says that it wasn’t able to integrate Steam-specific features like cloud saves and achievements “due to a lack of cooperation with Frogwares.”

Polygon reached out to both parties for comment and will update the story when more information is available.

The two companies have been at each other’s throats for quite a some time now. The game originally launched in summer of 2019, but then disappeared from most online storefronts in August 2020 due to a dispute over royalties. Taking similar action then as it did today, Frogwares took its complaints public by publishing a letter claiming that Nacon owed the studio “roughly 1 million euros.”

In October, the Paris Court of Appeal made an initial ruling saying that Frogwares unlawfully terminated its contract, and ordered Frogwares to “refrain from any action on the breach of this contract, [and to] refrain from any action that impedes this continuation.” That decision led Nacon, in early January, to ask distributors to begin selling The Sinking City again in certain online storefronts, like the Xbox Store.

To begin selling the game again, Nacon says it needed Frogwares to deliver a full version of The Sinking City, something that it tried to enforce through the use of lawyers. But, according to Frogwares, Nacon’s demands couldn’t actually get through in court. The fight over whether Frogwares needs to hand over a “master” version of the game is ongoing and could take years.