Lovecraftian detective game The Sinking City never gained much attention when it arrived in 2019, with most reviewers scoring it somewhere between average and quite good. These days, it makes headlines for all the wrong reasons. The developer is asking people not to buy the game from Steam, alleging that it has been “cracked and pirated” by publisher Nacon.
Developer Frogwares writes that since the release of The Sinking City in June 2019, it has faced problems with its licensee, Nacon.
“Nacon’s unlawful actions have forced Frogwares to defend its property and react in front of the French Justice for lack of payments, attempts to steal our IPs, etc,” writes the studio.
The legal dispute led to The Sinking City being removed from most digital stores last year, but a French court ordered its return until a final ruling could be reached. It relaunched on the storefronts but was quickly removed from Steam—again.
Last week, The Sinking City reappeared on Steam, complete with a warning from Frogwares not to buy it. The page also contains a statement from Nacon defending its position, claiming that the studio’s lack of cooperation means this latest version lacks Steam-specific features such as cloud saves and achievements.
Frogwares writes that the version of The Sinking City now on Steam was “cracked and pirated” by Nacon so it could be re-released without the developer’s knowledge. It alleges that the publisher legally purchased a version “specifically prepared” for Gamesplanet, cracked it, and changed the content to commercialize it under the Nacon name before uploading the game to Valve’s platform.
“In order to make changes Nacon had only one way: to decompile or hack the game using a secret key created by Frogwares since the totality of the game’s content is archived with an Epic Unreal Engine encryption system. To be clear this is hacking and when hacking has the purpose to steal a product and make money with it, it’s called piracy or counterfeiting.”