'The Sinking City' Developer Uses DMCA to Remove Its Own Game From Steam

The move comes after the game’s developer accused its former publisher of hacking the game and illegally uploading it to Steam.
March 3, 2021, 1:19am
A screen shot from the video game The Sinking City.
Image courtesy of Frogwares

The Sinking City was removed from Steam and other storefronts last year, the result of an ongoing legal conflict between developer Frogwares and publisher Nacon. Tensions between the companies have wildly escalated recently, with The Sinking City re-appearing on Steam without Frogwares' approval. Yesterday, the developer accused Nacon of hacking its game code and uploading an illegal version of the game to Steam. 

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At the time of the accusation, The Sinking City was still on Steam. But that changed this afternoon, when the game was no longer available. You could search for The Sinking City on Steam, but when clicking on the game, it would send you back to the main storefront. 

The game was removed as the result of a DMCA takedown notice from Frogwares, according to Steam.

"The Sinking City has been in dispute in French courts for a while," said Valve VP of marketing Doug Lombardi in a statement to VICE Games. "An interim decision last fall appeared to give Nacon the right to distribute the game on Steam while the litigation proceeded. However, today we received a DMCA take-down notice for the version that Nacon recently shipped, so we have responded to that notice."

Valve owns and runs Steam.

Nacon and Frogwares did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Update: Frogwares and Nacon has since confirmed the DMCA takedown request in statements to VICE Games:

_Regarding our use of a DMCA to remove the game from Steam. We believe in a very short time, 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. 

We are aware that a final ruling on whether Frogwares are obligated to deliver a Steam version has yet not been made and could take years. As it stands, we have an appeals court ruling saying, until further notice Frogwares do not need to deliver a Steam version to Nacon. In the meantime, Nacon decided to take justice into their own hands and release a pirated build._

We are also aware that the DMCA claim on this Steam version may only be a temporary fix and that the game may make a comeback - in this form or another. Providing partners like Valve with finalized rulings and 3rd party verified evidence so they can make their final decision takes time and resources. If in the meantime they decide they have to continue selling the game, we can only respect that while continuing to speak to them and provide them with more information.

Separately, Nacon said "repeatedly and unsuccessfully requested that FROGWARES make the game available on STEAM, failing which it would apply a clause in the contract wherein such a case, the game would be adapted by a third party.” Nacon essentially confirmed what Frogwares was accusing, but claims it’s within contractual rights.

When the game popped back up on Steam, the "news" section for The Sinking City included a tweet from Frogwares advising fans to not purchase that version of the game.

The Sinking City remains available for purchase on PC through other storefronts.

Follow Patrick on Twitter. His email is patrick.klepek@vice.com, and available privately on Signal (224-707-1561).