Developer Frogwares is locked in a legal battle over its games. The Sinking City on Switch is the only ‘safe’ console version.
The Sinking City game has been removed from Steam, EGS, Xbox One, and PS4. The developer Frogwares says it was forced to terminate its contract with its licensee for breaches of agreements.
Since then, the studio appears to be locked in a legal battle for those versions of the game. The Nintendo Switch version of The Sinking City is self-published by Frogwares, therefore it is not at risk of being removed. Here’s a portion of an open letter Frogwares posted on their website on August 25.
“Since the release of The Sinking City on June 27, 2019, we’ve been involved in legal battles with BigBen Interactive/Nacon over the title. In 2017, we signed The Sinking City contract as a licensing agreement with BigBen/Nacon – two years after the start of production.”
“In exchange for a financial contribution to the development, we gave them the right to sell and commercialize the game on four platforms. Xbox One, PS4, Steam, and later Epic Games Store. The intellectual property would still belong to Frogwares, which has always been the only producer and owner of its games, including The Sinking City.”
“We signed the deal on those terms and we would receive part payments for each production milestone completed. Then a share of revenue starting at the first euro or dollar. So all was well – until the collaboration started.”
The developers says during the production of the The Sinking City, BBI/Nacon did not make payments on time. Frogwares says each sum that was paid was on average 40 days late, while milestone payments were always on time. The developers also confirm they had to issue formal notices multiple times to receive the money they were owed.
After BBI/Nacon bought another studio working on a Lovecraftian game, they demanded Frogwares hand over the source code to The Sinking City. That IP is owned exclusively by Frogwares, with BBI/Nacon serving only as a licensee to sell the game – not develop it.
“After we refused to comply [with that request] we stopped receiving financial contributions for over for months,” Wael Amr, CEO of Frogwares confirms. After the game released, BBI/Nacon threatened to cancel milestones that were previously approved. Frogwares filed a lawsuit against BBI/Nacon in August 2019.
“At some point we received a statement claiming that one of the console manufacturers hasn’t paid royalties for more than five months. Actually, the same console manufacturer paid our royalties from other games without any delay in the same period of time.”
The lawsuit also claims that the Frogwares logo was removed from PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game’s box art.
In short, BBI/Nacon owes Frogwares over $1 million euros in back royalties. BBI/Nacon says the contract between Frogwares and itself cannot be terminated due to emergency laws in France. But those laws are designed to protect small businesses during COVID-19. Frogwares says it was forced to request removal of its games to prevent royalties to continue flowing to BBI/Nacon.
A DRM free version of The Sinking City can be purchased on the Frogwares website. Or you can support the developer with the Nintendo Switch version, which was self-published.
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