Fans of the weird and horrific don't always get to see games inspired and based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft. This is why, whenever one is released, it's always a momentous occasion. At least, for the fan base.
The Sinking City was one of those games that fans really loved. We even featured it as a must-play game on one of our lists. Although it wasn't exactly a game for everybody, lovers of the quirky and out-of-this-world would have found themselves right at home in the game.
We say would have because Steam recently delisted the game.
What's the Story Behind the Nacon-Frogwares Dispute?
The Sinking City is an adventure-horror title made by Frogwares, an indie development studio based in Kyiv that's best known for their works on the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series of titles, which are based on the fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes.
The Sinking City was first released in June 2019, with Nacon licensed to distribute the game until April 2020, which is when Frogwares terminated the contract. They cited non-payment and intellectual property violations as the reasons for this.
This legal issue resulted in The Sinking City being removed from digital storefronts on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, as well as Steam, and the Epic Games Store. The only version that remained available was that on the Nintendo eShop. However, even before this was resolved, Nacom decided to republish the game on Steam.
As expected from the makers of the Sherlock Holmes video games, Frogwares used their powers of deduction to find out how Nacom accomplished this. Then, it didn't them too long to have the game taken down once again, but not before they themselves urged the public not to buy the very game that they had made themselves.
Not long after fans and Frogwares denounced the unlicensed release of The Sinking City on Steam, the accused publishers, Nacom, released a statement. They added that they'd already paid Frogwares "more than 10 million euros". They also noted that the developer relied on the marketing and promotional means of Nacon, implying that this was worth "several [million] euros worth of investment".
However, it seems that Steam is siding with Frogwares on this one. As of March 2, The Sinking City is no longer available on Steam.
A Curious Case of Publisher-Developer Conflict
Whether or not Steam will relist The Sinking City following this debacle remains to be seen.
Apparently, this whole conflict started when Nacon allegedly asked for the source code of The Sinking City. The reason for this was to help out Cyanide, a French development studio, create their own Lovecraftian game. However, Frogwares did not agree to the request. This resulted in Nacon blocking Frogwares from receiving income from the game that was already on market.
Frogwares is currently working on Sherlock Holmes Chapter One, an adventure open-world title that will follow the adventures of a young Sherlock Holmes way before he became the legendary and famous detective.