The scandal broke out last weekend, and since then, Ukrainian Frogwares and the French publisher, Nacon (which published the game as Bigben Interactive) have started mudslinging.
Nacon published a statement on Steam, where they reiterated the amount of money it has invested in The Sinking City, claiming that Frogwares would like to „revise the terms of the contract to their sole advantage.” „It was Frogwares who came to Nacon to request financing for the development of the game, and to date, more than 10 million euros have been paid to Frogwares by Nacon. It was Frogwares that relied on our marketing and promotion teams, representing thousands of hours of work and several million euros worth of investment. We sincerely would have preferred that our relationship with Frogwares remain cooperative and respectful, as is the case with all of the studios whose titles we publish,” the statement wrote.
The currently available Steam version of The Sinking City (which Frogwares doesn’t recommend to buy) lacks Steam-specific features. For example, cloud-saving, as well as achievements, are out of the picture. It’s also just the base game, without any post-launch DLC included. However, let’s also take a look at the other party’s opinion.
Frogwares has responded to the case, claiming that the game’s GamesPlanet version on PC is fair play (we’ll explain why in a bit). They published a new video (embedded below) and a blog post, explaining how Nacon effectively put up a pirated version of The Sinking City on Steam, claiming that they „cracked, hacked, changed [their] game’s code and content and illegally uploaded” this new version. The video explains fairly well what they changed: Nacon swapped the GamesPlanet logo to theirs, removed the Play More option from the main menu that advertises other Frogwares titles (and this is one method to detect if it’s a pirated copy of a game), and the ad for Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One is also gone.
The line that mentions it’s the GamesPlanet version of the game was also wiped from the main menu, and it all was possible by using an Unreal Engine 4 encryption key that Frogwares had and Nacon obtained – without it, modifying the game wasn’t possible. Frogwares even names the studio that has done the dirty work for Nacon! „We believe Nacon did this to hide the fraudulent exploitation of the game on Steam but also on other portals which they may be planning to send the game to. Nacon wants Frogwares or anyone, including the French Justice, to never know the true scope of their exploitation of the game” Nacon wrote.
The studio also claims the version of the game on Steam includes content that was made post-launch, even though they fall outside the realm of the contract with Nacon. Whatever the case is, there are no achievements in this version. However, Frogwares specified that they don’t have a problem with Steam, GamesPlanet, and any retailer that gets Steam keys via Nacon.
Frogwares will take this to court.