Dark and Darker Taken Off Steam
I was introduced to the world of Dark and Darker during the Steam Next Fest demo event back in February 2023. The game was a hoot in the Goblin Caves, but playing with other players using voice chat proximity became even better. The number of shenanigans you could hear was hilarious, and by teaming up with people and VC-ing through Discord, all of you could coordinate where to go. The goal is to go into a dungeon, slay monsters, find treasure, and hopefully escape with the goods.
The next playtest was scheduled to run from April 14 to 19, but that may be delayed at this point. That’s because IRONMACE’s listing of Dark and Darker was removed from Steam after allegations of theft by Nexon Games—a South Korean/Japanese studio—came to light.
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All Content in Steam Related to Dark and Darker Was Removed
IRONMACE received a cease and desist demand courtesy of Nexon, ultimately removing Dark and Darker from Steam. The players first noticed Steam’s RPG store page changed when Steam removed assets like videos and screenshots. Then, the PvP and online co-op stopped working altogether until the inevitable removal of the entire game. If you attempt to load the game through Steam, all you’ll get is the store’s front page.
Matters Escalated, Getting the Police Involved
Nexon Games reportedly claimed that IRONMACE allegedly stole their source code and assets from them. As a result, the police raided the studio earlier this week, intending to seize company material related to the game. A Korean news outlet known as Korea JoongAng Daily reported that the raid occurred on March 21 at IRONMACE’s headquarters in Seongnam, Gyeonggi.
An anonymous user claiming to be one of IRONMACE’s employees stated on Discord that the search went swiftly, and police didn’t find what they were looking for. IRONMACE has since denied the allegations made by Nexon. A developer of DaD released a statement on the game’s official Discord server regarding the accusations. They state that the developers built their code from scratch, and they purchased most of the assets used for DaD from the Unreal marketplace. Besides that, IRONMACE employees created all game design docs and other assets in-house.
Dark and Darkers Bears Similarity Toward One of Nexon’s Projects
Based on a translated This is Game article on Reddit, the reason for the cease and desist order was that Dark and Darker closely resembled one of Nexon’s early game projects. Codenamed Project P3, Nexon first premiered it on August 2021. Fast forward to March 2022, the focus of P3 shifted from medieval fantasy to modern survival and firearms. Because of that, they changed the project’s name to Project P7.
The assumption is that the developers of the P3 project that left formed IRONMACE, and they continued to develop that concept, turning it into Dark and Darker. IRONMACE was founded in October 2021 by Park Sueng Ha—a former Nexon employee. Before creating IRONMACE, he worked on the P3 project.
Now, this is where it gets a bit convoluted. The person in charge of the P3 project, known as Leader A, was fired on July 2021 due to leaking thousands of files related to P3. And if what Korea JoongAng Daily says is true, half of IRONMACE’s team consists of people who have worked on P3—including this Leader A. This is what ultimately led to the events that transpired over the weekend.
Dark and Darker’s Future
Amid all the drama, the devs posted an official statement on Dark and Darker’s Discord channel. It states that the devs are currently working with their legal team on how they want to proceed with the issue in the best manner possible. Because of the sensitive legal nature of it all, they asked the fans for a bit of patience and understanding as they try to get the game back up as fast as possible.
Since all this kerfuffle leaves Dark and Darker’s status up in the air, fans angered by the situation are currently review bombing MapleStory on Steam. This latest delisting has greatly affected DaD’s popularity since its initial playtests. Adding fire to the fuel, this drama comes just weeks before the next playtest in April. The full release for Dark and Darker was initially slated for the year-end, but that timeframe is scrapped until this problem has been wrapped into a neat little bow.