The controversy surrounding Dark and Darker, an MMO that stands accused of stealing not just assets but also staff from Korean publishers Nexon, escalated over the weekend when the game was delisted from Steam.
As we’ve reported previously, Dark and Darker—a fantasy MMO that was supposed to go into Early Access in April—is being developed by Ironmace, a team of mostly former-Nexon employees, and is in the same genre as P3, a title many of them had been working on at Nexon (and which has since been cancelled) before jumping ship.
As a result, a few weeks back Nexon complained and police raided Ironmace’s office:
Nexon’s lawyers say Dark and Darker has “striking similarities with the concept for P3 in major gameplay, rules and arts, which could not have been made independently”, and that as a result of the alleged theft their own game “couldn’t see the light of day due to unethical actions from former colleagues”.
Following this raid, Nexon filed a DMCA strike against Dark and Darker, resulting in the game being delisted from Steam. The request, made public here, says:
Nexon has learned that IRONMACE Co., Ltd. (“Ironmace”) is making unauthorized use of Nexon’s trade secrets and copyrighted material as detailed below. This letter is to inform you of Ironmace’s misconduct, constituting misappropriation of Nexon’s trade secrets and copyright infringement and to request that Valve take down all versions of Dark and Darker from Steam.
In response to the delisting, Ironmace issued a statement on the game’s Discord, saying:
To all our fans, we have recently been served a cease and desist letter and DMCA takedown by Nexon regarding Dark and Darker based on distorted claims. We are currently working with our legal team to remedy this issue in the best manner possible. Due to the sensitive legal nature of this issue we must be careful with our statements so as to not jeopardize our position. We ask for your understanding as we work to get the game back up as quickly as possible. Please know that we will do all that is possible for our fans. Thanks!
That was followed by a longer explanation, which addresses Nexon’s specific allegations (such as the accessing of Nexon’s servers by developers working from home and the similarities of Dark and Darker’s story to that of P3), and which ends with:
Given the information presented, it is difficult to believe that Nexon, in good faith, could reasonably believe that Ironmace has infringed on the copyrights for their P3 project. They also provide no actual evidence that Ironmace misappropriated Nexon’s trade secret information in the creation of Dark and Darker, but instead base it on circumstantial claims. Finally, they accuse Ironmace of a flagrant breach of Valve’s SSA and SOCR, restricting our ability to provide our game to players on the largest mainstream PC game platform and severely obstructing our ability to do business. Ironmace requests that Nexon renounce their baseless claims. If they would like to compete on merit, we welcome Nexon to promptly accommodate the comparison of source code, custom assets, and design documents with the police to quickly and decisively put an end to this matter.