Up and coming fantasy extraction game Dark and Darker has been taken down from Steam following a cease and desist as well as DMCA claim by publisher Nexon. It's an apparent escalation of Nexon's existing dispute with Dark and Darker developer Ironmace around the game's development assets. Overnight, from March 24th into the 25th, assets and material from Dark and Darker's Steam page were removed, followed by its co-op and PvP servers going dark, and culminating with the removal of the game from steam's Store.
This follows the search earlier this month of Ironmace's offices, where police seized materials related to the game project. At the time Ironmace said that "absolutely no stolen assets or code were used to make our game" and that players should not worry, as "nothing was found." Clearly, Japanese-Korean game publishing giant Nexon disagrees, though as yet no legal details are forthcoming.
In a statement posted to the Dark and Darker Discord server, a representative for Nexon said that "We have recently been served a cease and desist letter and DMCA takedown by Nexon regarding Dark and Darker based on distorted claims. We are currently working with our legal team to remedy this issue in the best manner possible. Due to the sensitive legal nature of this issue we must be careful with our statements so as not to jeopardize our position. We ask for your understanding as we work to get the game back up as quickly as possible."
This latest escalation is part of an ongoing legal dispute between Nexon and Ironmace, as well as personal legal disputes between Nexon and Ironmace employees. Employees at Ironmace were formerly working at Nexon on a project called P3, cancelled in 2021, that Nexon alleges bears similarity to Dark and Darker, seemingly implying that Ironmace used stolen assets and code to create its game.
Dark and Darker is an extraction shooter, but it's also a first-person dungeon crawling fantasy game. One that our Lauren Morton said "proves extraction shooters don't have to be shooters at all." Its Open Alphas over the last few months have proven very popular, popping into the 100 or so most-played games on Steam for the weekends they've been available. Dark and Darker was due for another public playtest from April 14 to April 19, 2023.
We'll keep an eye on this situation as it develops. We've reached out to both Nexon and Ironmace for comment and will update if and when we receive a response.