In December 2019, Paranoia: Happiness Is Mandatory was released to Epic Games Store, but two months later it was removed from sale with no explanation as to why. It seems the reason was because the intellectual property owner wanted it taken down.
PCGamer has found court documents that reveal a complaint filed by Bigben Interactive, now known as Nacon – the publisher of titles like Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong and Cricket 22. Nacon owns many studios, including Cyanide, one of the developers on Paranoia: Happiness Is Mandatory.
The complaint was filed against the rights-holders of the Paranoia property, Eric Goldberg and Greg Costikyan, who have answered the complaint against them and filed a counterclaim.
The problem started when a September 2019 release date was announced, as Goldberg and Costikyan had not approved it and had concerns about “advertising a potentially unrealistic release date”.
The two creators were provided with a pre-release version of the game, which they found to be “a product significantly below commercial standards” that would, they suggested, “tarnish the [Paranoia] brand”.
Eventually all parties agreed that it needed more time, but then the publisher announced a new release date for November 2019. Once again, this was without the property owners knowing about it. Another pre-release version was offered up, which Goldberg and Costikyan also found unacceptable.
After requesting it, the co-creators were provided with “a new spreadsheet listing 74 combined major and minor bugs” that were known to be present in the game.
However, the title was then simply released without permission, and the property owners weren’t informed. When the pair found out, they requested the publisher remove the game from sale. Eventually Goldberg and Costikyan went to Epic Games directly with a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) request to remove it, and it was taken down on January 24, 2020.
Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory is a sci-fi role-playing game exclusive to Epic Games Store, with a Steam release planned to follow after it had been on Epic Games Store for a year. While the Steam page remains live with “coming soon” listed as a release date, over a year later, it still hasn’t been released.
This isn’t the first time something similar has happened with Nacon. In 2021, the company was involved in a drawn-out dispute with developer Frogwares, who had to use a DMCA takedown order to get The Sinking City removed from Steam after claiming that Nacon had uploaded a “pirated” version of it without permission.