Megapublisher Nexon is taking Ironmace to court over claims that the studio stole assets for use in the developer's increasingly popular Dark and Darker.
A number of developers at Ironmace used to work at Nexon. Earlier this year, Nexon alleged that stolen assets from an in-development project called P3 were being used in Dark and Darker. Ironmace CEO Terence Seung-ha Park responded by saying that "ABSOLUTELY NO stolen assets or code were used to make our game," but in the wake of the allegations, Dark and Darker was delisted from Steam, leaving Ironmace to distribute the game's latest playtest through torrents.
Now those claims are the subject of a formal complaint issued by Nexon in a Seattle, Washington district court. The complaint, which was filed on April 14 (the same day the latest playtest went live) and brought to public attention a few days later by streamer and content creator Onepeg, formally accuses Ironmace, Terence Seung-ha Park, and Ju-Hyun Choi of "copyright infringement" and "misappropriation of trade secrets."
You can watch Onepeg's video breaking down the lawsuit if you want all the nitty-gritty detail on the content of the complaint, but in short, Nexon alleges that Park and Choi stole both assets and code from P3, and are essentially developing the same game under a new title with Dark and Darker. The suit is being filed in the US because Nexon believes it's the largest market for the game.
Nexon says that Park and Choi were both subject to non-compete clauses that would've prohibited them from working in the "same business" - in other words, they couldn't work in game development for one year after departing Nexon. The company further alleges that Choi was already making plans to lift P3 code and poach some of the project's developers while he was still at the company.
Much of the 55-page complaint shows the similarities between P3 and Dark and Darker, including direct visual comparisons between the two games, and illustrations of how they're both distinct from other generic fantasy art.
Nexon is seeking monetary damages as well as an end to Ironmace's development and marketing of Dark and Darker "or any game substantially similar to the P3 game."
A rogue GoFundMe intended to support Ironmace's legal costs launched - and was deleted - two weeks ago.