Following allegations from The Sinking City developer Frogwares that the version of its game on Steam was not its own creation, the studio is now claiming that publisher Nacon hacked a copy of the game from another storefront to sell on Steam.
Last Friday, Frogwares tweeted out a claim that the version of The Sinking City on Steam was not made by Frogwares and asked users not to purchase it.
In a new blog and accompanying video update today, Frogwares said former licensee Nacon "cracked, hacked, changed [their] game's code and content and illegally uploaded" The Sinking City to Steam, without the developer's knowledge.
A court decision opened the door for The Sinking City to be uploaded to Steam, and Frogwares claimed that while it and Nacon continued to argue over the decision of uploading a new master version to Steam, Nacon published its own version last Friday.
In Frogwares' blog post, it outlined evidence of the modification of game files within the currently available Steam release of The Sinking City, including the swapping out of GamesPlanet logos, watermarks, and other menu options, like a promotional advertisement for the studio's upcoming Sherlock Holmes games.
These changes, Frogwares said, could only be done by decompiling the game using its Frogwares' encryption key, since the game's content is archived using an Unreal Engine encryption system. Frogwares alleged that Nacon used this encryption key to go through various game files, modify them, then recompile and upload the game for sale; the studio even put forward the identity of a studio under Nacon it alleged handled the alteration process.
The specific removal of the "play more" option, which links toward external servers, is a measure that Frogwares claimed is used to check and verify what version of The Sinking City is being used, and is a "non-intrusive security measure" meant to specifically identify pirates and hackers; Frogwares alleged Nacon intentionally removed this menu option.
"We believe Nacon did this to hide the fraudulent exploitation of the game on Steam but also on other portals which they may be planning to send the game to," Frogwares said. "Nacon wants Frogwares or anyone, including the French Justice, to never know the true scope of their exploitation of the game."
Additionally, Frogwares claimed that the version Nacon uploaded was a "deluxe" version, including content that was developed after the game's release and outside the realm of its contract with Nacon, though the current version on Steam doesn't include features like Steam achievements.
Nacon published its own response today, alleging Frogwares wasn't cooperating with putting a new version of The Sinking City back on Steam, and claiming it would like to "revise the terms of the contract to their sole advantage."
Frogwares specified that it has no issue with Steam and GamesPlanet, or other storefronts who sold Steam keys that Frogwares claims Nacon requested.
Frogwares concluded by saying it will have to "take measure" of what happened. "We have full trust in the Justice to see these actions considered as they should," the developer said.