Dark and Darker drama deepens as a rogue $500,000 GoFundMe sends the community into chaos

Four adventurers journey into a dim dungeon
(Image credit: Ironmace)

Late last week, Dark and Darker's most hardcore fans got a surprise when a $500,000 GoFundMe went live to help support the game's development and legal fees in the ongoing dispute with Nexon. The GoFundMe was quickly taken down, but the devs have confirmed it was legitimate - just posted early by a "passionate" rogue developer. Regardless, the situation has only furthered the chaos that's reigned in the community amid Dark and Darker's murky legal status.

Earlier this year, Japanese-South Korean publisher Nexon alleged that several of its former employees stole assets from an in-development project and used them in the development of Dark and Darker. Terence Seung-ha, CEO of Dark and Darker studio Ironmace, denied those allegations in no uncertain terms. Ironmace was subject to a police raid searching for stolen code shortly after, which apparently turned up "nothing." Nonetheless, a few weeks later, Dark and Darker Steam page was delisted following a DMCA request from Nexon.

Dark and Darker has not yet been released, but its public playtests so far have helped the game build a substantial fanbase, and many of those fans see this dispute as a David and Goliath story - a scrappy indie studio on the verge of a big hit getting bullied by a massive publisher responsible for some pretty heavily monetized free-to-play games. The actual truth of the matter remains murky, and as it stands, pretty much all discussion on the game's Discord is now focused on the dispute and speculation over what it'll mean for the final product.

It's into that chaos that a big announcement went up on the Discord. A developer going by 'Luci' posted a link to a $500,000 GoFundMe on Ironmace's behalf. "I am coming to you guys to ask for help and support to get us through this bullshit. [CEO] Terence and [fellow developer] SDF are stressed the fuck out because we don't know if we'll be able to sustain a long term legal battle even with the truth on our side. If we have the funding to defend ourselves in court, we will make it through this and we WILL create the games that gamers around the world have wanted for such a long time but haven't had in recent years."

With all the goodwill Ironmace has gotten from the community, that GoFundMe quickly raised well over $40,000, even as moderators stepped in to temporarily shut down discussion and urge fans to use caution regarding the fundraiser, warning that it could be the product of a hacked account.

The whole thing was resolved within a few hours, with a developer telling fans that "the GoFundMe link is legitimate, however it was to be used later if necessary. It was posted this morning without approval due to a passionate member of the team taking matters into his own hands. We have currently paused the campaign for now as it was prematurely announced."

Amid all the strangeness of this kerfuffle, one of the most bizarre things is that in Ironmace's native South Korea, the GoFundMe went up on the morning of April 1 - in other words, April Fools' Day. There's no indication that any of this was intended as a joke, but it's another layer for a community already embedded in chaos.

There's another point of concern for fans, too. The next Dark and Darker playtest - the first since the game's legal troubles began - is supposed to kick off on April 14. The devs haven't provided an update on that planned playtest in some time, and since previous playtests were handled through Steam, where Dark and Darker no longer has a presence, nobody's quite sure how this one's going to happen.

Dark and Darker has been absolutely massive on Steam through its first few playtests.

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.