Frogwares, the developer behind 2019 Lovecraftian adventure The Sinking City, had the game pulled from Steam's virtual shelves Tuesday with a DMCA takedown notice as the latest play in its ongoing dispute with publisher Nacon.
The Sinking City was originally removed from storefronts at the outset of the legal battle between Frogwares and Nacon. Frogwares filed a lawsuit against Nacon in 2019 for allegedly failing to pay it various fees on time and in proper order, and for claiming ownership of The Sinking City intellectual property.
When a French appeals court ruled Frogwares "had terminated the contract in a 'manifestly unlawful' manner," per Nacon, the publisher attempted to bring the game back to storefronts. It landed on the Xbox store first, then reached Steam last week.
Although Frogwares doesn't control the game's Steam page, the game's Steam news feed remained tied to the studio's Twitter account. This allowed Frogwares to warn potential buyers that the version available on Steam was not one they had approved. It lacked several functions Frogwares included in the original.
Frogwares alleges Nacon hacked the code to The Sinking City and uploaded the resultant "illegal" version to Steam.
"It's corporate bullying, and incompetent hacking, at its finest," read Frogwares' statement.
Frogwares alleges Nacon purchased a copy of the game from Gamesplanet, the storefront Frogwares is using to sell The Sinking City on PC, and uploaded an altered version of that game to Steam. The version on Steam had logos and various UI features, as well as different file size.
Frogwares says it has even managed to identify the Nacon employees who performed the hack, and that this is the third time Nacon has attempted such a move.
For its part, Nacon argues its contract with Frogwares allowed it to employ such dramatic measures.
Valve confirmed it had received a DMCA takedown from Frogwares on Tuesday and removed The Sinking City from Steam for a second time. Frogwares said the DMCA claim would likely be a temporary fix, allowing that Steam and other storefronts could continue to sell the game until a final decision is reached in the lawsuit.