The developer of upcoming action-RPG Dark And Darker has denied allegations that it stole assets and code.
It appears that Ironmace CEO Park Terence Seung-ha (though only named as “Terence” in a denial statement online) has refuted claims of theft, saying that “ABSOLUTELY NO stolen assets or code were used to make our game”.
As PCGamer notes, allegations first appeared on Korean site This Is Game, which said that developer Ironmace includes former employees of Nexon who were “disciplined and fired” by Nexon, and are now building Dark And Darker using materials they worked on while at Nexon.
In a statement posted to Discord earlier this week, “Terence” insisted that everything has been “built from scratch” and that the game’s assets were either purchased from the Unreal marketplace or designed internally.
According to the claim, a Nexon project that was revealed in 2021 as “P3” was essentially used as a prototype of the PC game.
Months later, Nexon flipped to developing a contemporary survival adventure under the working name “P7”.
For context, Ironmace was founded at around the same time in 2021, at least in part by former Nexon employees. Ironmace’s website suggests that things didn’t end amicably between some of its employees and Nexon.
“We are a merry band of veteran game developers disillusioned by the exploitative and greedy practices we once helped create,” a note on the website reads. “We are experts who have worked on many of the biggest hits in Korea.
“We’ve seen first hand how corporate game companies sell their soul for the easy payday. We are disappointed to see them doubling down on more and more exploitative practices, becoming more like casinos instead of bringing joy to gamers.”
Ironmace, whose former Nexon employees have also been accused of trying to steal other code, resources and development documents from Nexon, continued in the statement on Discord: “Most of our assets are purchased from the Unreal marketplace. All other assets and all game designs docs were created inhouse. This has already been audited by an outside agency. As far as we know you cannot copyright a game genre.”
As PGGamer notes further, Seung-ha also addressed a lawsuit referenced in a separate This Is Game report saying that it’s a “separate personal matter” filed against a single Ironmace employee. “No lawsuit has been filed against Ironmace,” Seung-ha wrote.
Additionally, Korean news site YTN has noted that Nexon did file a complaint against Dark And Darker relating to the “Unfair Competition & Trade Secrets Protection Act”. In its complaint, Nexon alleged that CEO Park Mo and other employees stole information about a game they were working on while at Nexon.
Game industry commentator PlayerIGN said that the case was initially filed last August but that Nexon has since requested a “deeper investigation”. It’s not clear whether that’s the same action noted by Seung-ha.
The case was done in August 2022, but as Dark and Darker hosted more tests, NEXON requested deeper investigation.
Report covered by YTN, the first 24-hour Korean news channel and one of the biggest in the country: https://t.co/DCZpGZ7tD5
YouTube link: https://t.co/qr7j6Kwtl0
— PlayerIGN (@PlayerIGN) February 20, 2023
Seung-ha said that he believes the rumours of stolen code and assets were raised by “a disgruntled third party” but provided no further detail.
According to him [via PCGamer], Ironmace is now handling the matter “privately” and is prepared to defend itself in legal terms.
Nexon has not publicly commented on the matter.
NME reached out to both Ironmace and Nexon for comment. Ironmace didn’t wish to comment further and pointed NME to the Discord message.
Meanwhile, Dark And Darker was originally set for Q4 2023 release date window, however, a specific date is yet to be announced. Keep an eye on its Steam page for news on future playtests.
The game has already become a stand-out hit at the latest Steam Next Fest, as PCGamesN has reported.