The Sinking City has been re-added to Steam but its developer Frogwares has recommended that players do not buy this version of the game. The action-adventure game was something of a change of pace for the developer when it released in 2019. Frogwares has previously been best known for creating a series of Sherlock Holmes titles. Set during the 1920s, The Sinking City featured a more horror-based narrative and took inspiration from the stories of H. P. Lovecraft. Unfortunately, the game received a lukewarm reception from most outlets, with Screen Rant awarding it 3 out of 5.
Frogwares and the game’s publishers Nacon and Bigben Interactive have been involved a legal dispute since August 2020, when the developer delisted The Sinking City from most storefronts. This came after allegations that the two companies were withholding payment and had engaged in behavior designed to force Forgwares to terminate its contract with Nacon. Among the problems listed in a lengthy open letter, Frogwares accused Nacon of demanding img code for the game, using its IP without permission for other projects, and illegally changing the companies’ business agreement. Nacon later released a statement denying the allegations and threatening legal action in response to Frogwares’ claims.
The Lovecraftian action-adventure game The Sinking City has returned to Steam following a lengthy delisting. However, developer Frogwares has warned fans that they should not buy this version of the title. According to the developer, its team did not work on the version available on Valve’s storefront and in a Tweeted statement it said that it does “not recommend the purchase of this version.” Exactly what the situation is that has led to The Sinking City returning to Steam without the permission of Frogwares is unclear. However, the studio promised that it would have more news soon.
— Frogwares (@Frogwares) February 26, 2021
After months of being unavailable to most players, The Sinking City returned to the Xbox Store earlier this year. The game had already been self-published to the Nintendo Switch eShop by Frogwares but was still not purchasable on PC or PlayStation 4. A legal judgment from the French Court of Appeals had ordered Frogwares to redistribute the game, a ruling that may explain why The Sinking City has suddenly emerged back on Steam.
These kinds of contract disputes are rare within the gaming industry, with developers usually having an amicable relationship with publishers. While it is still unclear exactly who is in the wrong in this dispute, the very public stage for the disagreement has put both Frogwares and Nacon in a difficult position. Hopefully, the matter will be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties in the near future, and give fans a chance to enjoy The Sinking City with the developers’ consent. Unfortunately, this peaceful resolution seems unlikely at this stage.