Skip to main content

Dark and Darker lawyer accuses Nexon of "anti-competitive bully tactics"

Asks Valve to return game to Steam.

Darker and Darker's lawyer has accused Korean gaming company Nexon of "anti-competitive bully tactics", in a letter to Steam owner Valve.

Following positive reception at Steam Next Fest earlier this year, Dark and Darker has experienced a troubled production. In March, developer Ironmace had its office searched, after Nexon alleged the studio created its game with code stolen from Nexon's own "P3" project (something several members of Ironmace's team had previously worked on).

Soon after these allegations were made, Nexon issued Ironmace with a cease and desist demand, and Dark and Darker was removed from Steam. Most recently, it came to light that the Dark and Darker developer is being sued by Nexon for "copyright infringement", with the Korean game publisher demanding a jury trial in America.

Newscast: Is Zelda playable in Tears of the Kingdom?Watch on YouTube

Now, in a bid to get Ironmace's game back onto Steam, Dark and Darker's lawyer has contested the DMCA notice that led to its removal from the platform in a letter to Valve, as reported by GamesRadar.

"The Takedown Notice is based on claims that are entirely without merit and contains knowing and material misrepresentations that Dark and Darker infringed Nexon's copyright interests," wrote Greenberg Glusker lawyer Aaron Moss on Ironmace's behalf.

In this letter, Moss stated Nexon's claims are "nothing more than anti-competitive bully tactics designed to put a small indie game studio out of business". Moss argued since the company's claims relate to "a game that Nexon never made" and therefore "does not exist", the copyright infringement claims are not valid.

"Nexon claims to have created 'unique concepts, genre, plot, story line, characters, and plans for the game' - almost none of which is subject to copyright protection," Moss wrote. "While the actual expression of plot, story line, and characters certainly may be protectable, copyright doesn't protect concepts."

Dark and Darker's lawyer went on to address the similarities between art for P3 and characters in Dark and Darker (something Nexon also highlighted in its lawsuit). On this, Moss argued these similarities are nothing more than what you would expect from fantasy games in general.

"The reality is that for every comparison Nexon can come up with, one can find half a dozen different games with the exact same feature - and in some cases, the very same asset," the lawyer wrote.

"What appears in Dark and Darker consists primarily of third-party assets legally acquired from the Unreal Engine asset store. To the extent that Nexon used the same or similar assets, that does not give rise to a copyright claim."

Moss noted a fantasy game, as part of its very nature, will likely contain similar elements to other games in the same genre.

"Even if Nexon can cherry-pick a dozen identical assets between them, that is only a drop in the bucket in terms of actual game design... The reality is that for every comparison Nexon can come up with, one can find half a dozen different games with the exact same feature - and in some cases, the very same asset."

In this letter, Moss asked that Valve reinstates Dark and Darker on Steam.

"At best, Nexon has taken a handful of unprotectable elements and cobbled them together to form the illusion of a copyright infringement claim," Moss concluded.

"But in reality, this case comes down to the fact that Nexon does not want any of its former employees to work at an indie studio developing a fantasy-themed extraction game. And Nexon will bend copyright law well past its breaking point in order to keep Dark and Darker out of the public's hands."

Meanwhile, over on the Dark and Darker Discord, the developer thanked fans for their ongoing support during this time, particularly in regards to its recent playtest (which had to be distributed via torrent).

"It was a long and arduous road for us this time. Knowing we had to keep our promise to our fans gave us the strength to endure," Ironmace wrote.

The developer went on to acknowledge the DDoS attacks that plagued its most recent playtest. "We are sorry that it impacted you," Ironmace apologised, before stating it would "investigate solutions" to mitigate these issues happening again in the future.

"Once again, it is only through the support of our fanbase that we persist," the developer closed. "Thank you from the bottom of our hearts and we'll see you soon!"

Ironmace thanked the Dark and Darker community for joining its recent playtest.

Read this next