Dark and Darker | controversy-hit MMO pulled from Steam

Dark and Darker

Dark and Darker, a fantasy MMO whose developers have already been accused of asset theft, has been pulled from Steam.


 

There could be trouble ahead for developer Ironmace, as its fantasy MMO Dark and Darker, already the subject of some fairly serious allegations of asset theft, has been removed from Steam.

The drama first began in February, when Ironmace, an indie studio formed from former developers at Korean giant Nexon, was accused of stealing the game’s assets and code.

According to Nexon’s lawyers, Dark and Darker bore “striking similarities” with P3 – P3 being a cancelled project that was once in development at Nexon. The firm alleges that a group of developers then left Nexon, formed Ironmace, and effectively continued working on P3 under the new title, Dark and Darker.

Ironmace denied the allegations, and in a statement on its Discord, responded that “Our code was built from scratch and, “Most of our assets are purchased from Unreal marketplace. All other assets and all game designs docs were created in-house. This has already been audited by an outside agency. As far as we know you cannot copyright a game genre.”

The situation escalated further in early March, when local news outlets reported that police had raided Ironmace’s offices.

That raid was followed by a DMCA takedown notice from Nexon’s lawyers.

“Based on our investigation, Dark and Darker appears to have been built and developed using trade secrets as well a copyright information copied and stolen from Nexon,” the notice reads. It then goes on to list several instances of what it claims are asset theft, including P3 code and 2D assets, and allegations that a Nexon employee transferred “more than 11,000 key build files of the P3 project from Nexon’s server to his personal server in 2020 and 2021.”

Ironmace shared the DMCA takedown on Reddit, where it remained adamant that no such theft had taken place. In a defiant rebuttal, the studio wrote that, “If anything, using assets, design, and code built for that project would have been a hinderance rather than a benefit to the development of Dark and Darker.

Nevertheless, Dark and Darker has now been removed from Steam, either by Valve or Ironmace itself.

It’s certainly a blow for Ironmace, a self-described “merry band of veteran game developers disillusioned by the exploitative and greedy practices we once helped create” which formed in 2021. A test version of Dark and Darker, a first-person dungeon crawler, emerged in August 2022, and it was scheduled to go into Early Access this April.

Nexon’s takedown has almost certainly put paid to that, and given the combative stance taken by both sides, the case is likely to rumble on for some time.

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