‘The Sinking City’ Developer Doesn’t Want You to Buy Their Game on SteamFebruary 26, 2021
It's normal for companies to attach a message to a game's sale on a platform like Steam. It's less normal for that message to actively encourage you to not buy the game, which is exactly what you'll find when looking up Frogware's Lovecraft-inspired adventure The Sinking City:
"Frogwares has not created this version of @thesinkingcity that is today on sale on @Steam," reads the message. "We do not recommend the purchase of this version. More news soon."
It also appears to be an older version of the game, without the latest patches.
Frogwares does not own or operate the Steam page for The Sinking City, but their official Twitter account is tied to the "news" section, which allows this to appear. It's extremely weird.
An ongoing legal dispute between Frogwares and The Sinking City's original publisher, Nacon, resulted in the game disappearing from a variety of storefronts last summer.
Neither Frogwares nor Nacon responded to immediate inquiries by VICE Games.
"The reason is a bit complicated, yet at the same time, quite simple," said the developer in a statement last August, explaining its case against Nacon, including allegations of missing and late milestone payments while the game was in development. "Short version: We were forced to terminate the contract with our licensee for several breaches of our agreement."
In response, Nacon said at the time that it "emphatically rejects this open letter, the terms of which do not square with the facts."
The legal process was set to play out in the coming months, but in January, Nacon announced The Sinking City would return storefronts, following a decision by a French appeals court that "Frogwares had terminated the contract in a 'manifestly unlawful' manner."
It then showed up to purchase on the Xbox store, with a note that it would return to both Steam and PlayStation at some point later, too. That day appears to have come on Steam, albeit with a note that explicitly has the developer pleading with fans to not buy the game.
The Steam reviews for this version are entirely negative, too:
Even weirder, The Sinking City was released last week on PlayStation 5, but that version of the game is controlled by Frogwares. The discrepancy over ownership was why the studio could not offer an upgrade path for PlayStation 4 owners, according to the developers.
"On PlayStation 5, Frogwares is the developer and publisher of the game," said Frogwares last week. "As the PS4 and PS5 games have different game IDs and due to an ongoing current legal and technical situation, this game is currently not eligible for a platform upgrade. As the situation is being handled legally, it remains frozen for the time being on our side."
It is all, once again, extremely weird, and seemingly unlikely to be resolved cleanly soon.