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Nexon files US lawsuit against Ironmace

Publisher claims the studio relied on stolen assets to create Dark and Darker in just 10 months

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Nexon has filed a US lawsuit against Dark and Darker studio Ironmace alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and copyright infringement.

While Nexon and Ironmace are both Korean, the suit argues that the US District Court Western District of Washington is an appropriate venue because Dark and Darker playtests were conducted on Steam (owned by Bellevue-Washington-based Valve) and some of the game's marketing has targeted American players.

The complaint also names ex-Nexon staffers Ju-Hyun Choi and Terence Seungha Park, CEO of Ironmace, for their involvement.

According to Nexon, Choi and Park were working at the company on a game substantially similar to Dark and Darker under the name P3.

The suit said, "In flagrant breach of their obligations to Nexon, the individual defendants stole P3 source code, audiovisual, and other materials that Nexon developed through a substantial expenditure of time and money."

Nexon's lawsuit also alleges character similarities between P3 and Dark and Darker

The lawsuit alleges that Choi, former P3 project director, solicited team members to create the project outside Nexon for monetary profit. He recruited almost half of the project’s team, including Park.

Nexon said that Ironmace, founded in October 2021, launched a Dark and Darker demo using stolen trade secrets within ten months.

The Korean games publisher is seeking the return of all P3 materials, attorney fees, and a yet-to-be-determined monetary amount for damages.

Nexon first made its allegations around Dark and Darker in February, and Ironmace denied them at the time. Last month, Korean police raided Ironmace's studio, seizing material related to its title.

The Dark and Darker developers planned to enter Early Access in April and release a full version of the RPG by the end of 2023. However, the game was removed from Steam following a cease and detest notice from Nexon.

Ironmace did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Jeffrey Rousseau

Staff Writer

Jeffrey Rousseau joined GamesIndustry.biz in March 2021. Based in Florida, his work focused on the intersectionality of games and media. He enjoys reading, podcasts, staying informed, and learning how people are tackling issues.