Frogwares claims version of The Sinking City on Steam isn’t theirs

The Sinking City, a Lovecraftian scary investigator video game from the Ukrainian studio Frogwares, went back to Steam on Friday after a monthslong lack. However Frogwares declares that the video game being offered on Valve’s platform isn’t in fact the video game it made — the most recent advancement in a continuous conflict in between Frogwares and Nacon, the French business that released The Sinking City.

“Frogwares has not created the version of @thesinkingcity that is today on sale on @Steam,” Frogwares said in a tweet on Friday. “We do not recommend the purchase of this version. More news soon.”

If you look at the Steam page for The Sinking City, you’ll see an announcement posted Friday morning saying that the video game is “now available on Steam,” offering a 60% discount for the next week. Publishers control what appears in a Steam listing, and it appears that Nacon wrote this post to alert potential customers that the game had returned to the platform.

But Frogwares used a clever tactic to sneak its message onto Steam: The News section of a product’s Steam page pulls tweets from sources including Frogwares’ official account, which is how the aforementioned tweet asking people not to buy the Steam version of The Sinking City … appeared on Steam. (It no longer shows up there, but here’s a screenshot we took.)

a screenshot of a Steam post from Frogwares telling people not to buy the game.

Image: Valve via Polygon

At the moment, Frogwares’ official website links to not to the Steam listing, but a version up for sale on Gamesplanet. The listing on Steam is heavily discounted — $16 after the 60% discount, compared to $42.49 on Gamesplanet. Frogwares has not confirmed this information itself, but recent customer reviews on Steam allege that the version of The Sinking City being offered there is not the most up-to-date iteration of the video game.

This advancement is but one of a series of conflicts between Frogwares and Nacon since The Sinking City launched in the summer of 2019. The game disappeared from most online storefronts in August 2020 due to a conflict over royalties. At the time, Frogwares claimed in an open letter that Nacon owed the studio “roughly 1 million euros” and had released misleading marketing that implied Nacon was the game’s developer.

In October, the Paris Court of Appeal handed down an initial ruling saying that Frogwares unlawfully terminated its contract, and ordered Frogwares to “refrain from any action on the breach of this contract, [and to] refrain from any action that impedes this continuation.” That decision led Nacon, in early January, to ask distributors to begin selling The Sinking City again. The game returned to the Xbox Store at the time, and is now back on Steam as well as the PlayStation Store; it has actually likewise been offered on Nintendo Change. Nacon kept in mind in its January declaration that the legal fight is “still pending before the French courts for several months.”

We’ve connected to Frogwares, Nacon, and Valve for remark, and we’ll upgrade this post as we hear back.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.