An investigation of the conflict between the Ukrainian studio Frogwares and the publisher Nacon, which has been going on since 2020, was published by the writers of the French website Gamekult, who spoke with representatives of both sides and published their piece on April 20. The material is available only to subscribers of the publication, however, the first extracts of the article appeared on the Resetera forum.
The collaboration between Frogwares and Nacon (Big Ben Interactive) began with the game Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter – before that the games of the Ukrainian studio were released by Focus Home Interactive. It was because of Frogwares’ decision to “go” to another publisher that Focus broke off relations with her, handing over the Call of Cthulhu game development to the French studio Cyanide.
The Ukrainian studio still wanted to make its game based on the books of Howard Lovecraft, so it offered Nacon the idea of The Sinking City, which the publisher gave the green light.
In May 2018, Nacon acquired Cyanide for 20 million euros, which greatly worsened the relationship between Frogwares and Nacon (the developers were still resentful at Cyanide). The studio lost confidence in the publisher, and communication between them began to fade.
It looks like the main reason for the lawsuit was financial disagreements – in particular, payments from the sales of The Sinking City, as well as funds for an exclusive deal with the Epic Games Store. However, the two sides also have other accusations against each other.
What Nacon Representatives Say
- The Sinking City developers repeatedly asked Nacon for some commercial data that could be used by other publishers. The company speculated that Frogwares might try to release the game on its own.
- Nacon did not know that the creators of the horror adventure are working on its port for the Nintendo Switch. The announcement at E3 2019 was a surprise for them. The company believes that Frogwares continued to make the supposedly “impossible” version for the hybrid console with the publisher’s money. Moreover, the developers released the game on Switch on their own, so Nacon did not receive anything from the port sales.
- Frogwares allegedly hid important data from Nacon, including materials for creating trailers.
- Publishers had to cancel announcements due to the fact that the developers had published this or that information before them.
What Frogwares say
- Nacon was several months late with payments for the completion of development stages.
- At the same time, the publishers spent significantly less on marketing than was originally negotiated in the contract with Frogwares.
- The developers did not hide the materials for working on the trailers, but sent them directly to the company that made these videos. This is due to the fact that studios were afraid that Nacon would steal the source code of the game.
- Since the French company refused to disclose financial information to Frogwares, the studio felt that they were underpaid royalties. Therefore, the Ukrainian studio decided to terminate the contract with Nacon and remove all versions of the game published by the French company.
Apparently, in the near future Gamekult plans to release the second part of the investigation into the conflict between Frogwares and Nacon.
At the end of February 2021, Nacon nevertheless re-released its version of The Sinking City on Steam, after which Frogwares accused the publisher of selling a pirated copy of the game. A day after the studio’s announcement, The Sinking City from Nacon was once again removed from Steam – with a DMCA strike.