After being removed from Steam in March, following a cease and desist notice, the dungeon-looting RPG game Dark and Darker and its developer Ironmace is now facing a lawsuit from Korean publisher Nexon, alleging copyright infringement. Nexon claims that Dark and Darker is created using assets and materials that the developers at Ironmace worked on and used while they were employed by Nexon. Ironmace has so far denied any wrongdoing.
Filed on April 14, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, court documents from Nexon make a series of claims against Dark and Darker developer Ironmace.
Chiefly, Nexon says that it seeks damages owing to the “defendants’ theft of Nexon’s videogame project called the ‘P3 Project.’” Reportedly, the developers who would later become part of Ironmace were working on a game under Nexon provisionally titled P3, and allegedly used some of the materials from that project in the creation of Dark and Darker.
“In flagrant breach of their obligations to Nexon, the individual defendants stole P3 source code, audiovisual, and other materials that Nexon developed through a substantial expenditure of time and money,” the court filing alleges.
“Defendants used those materials to develop a substantially similar videogame called Dark and Darker that defendants seek to distribute through their newly formed company, Ironmace. Nexon brings this action to stop defendants from continuing to profit from their unlawful actions, including through the distribution of Dark and Darker and elsewhere.”
Naming specific employees at Ironmace, who worked previously under Nexon, the lawsuit describes a one-year contract clause that “prevents employees from working in the same line of business that could potentially infringe on Nexon’s trade secrets, without Nexon’s prior consent.”
The lawsuit seeks “monetary relief including damages sustained by [Nexon] in an amount not yet determined.” Nexon claims that “condoning the defendants could threaten Nexon, the videogame industry, and all the consumers who enjoy playing sophisticated videogames.”
A report by Eurogamer shares images from the filing, obtained by YouTuber ‘Onepeg.’ In these images, Nexon compares concept art and screenshots from P3 to Dark and Darker and also characters developed by Dungeons and Dragons developer Wizards of the West Coast.
The goal, seemingly, is to demonstrate that the generic, fantasy-game characters used in Dark and Darker bear a resemblance to those in P3, separate to other companies’ renditions of the same archetypes.
“As is readily apparent to the eye, the Wizards of the West Coast Barbarian is entirely distinct from the P3 and Dark and Darker Barbarian,” the Nexon filing says.
“Dark and Darker’s Cleric is also substantially similar to P3’s Cleric. Both characters have pouch bags and a rucksack intended to hold the items/objects, holstered belt with a thick spell book, and frayed tunic, as well as a tight hood revealing facial hair, colourful neck scarf, round shield, metal staff, and armoured sleeves.” You can see another of comparison images generated by Nexon, and captured from the video summary of the lawsuit by Onepeg, below:
PCGamesN has contacted both Ironmace and Nexon and will update this story with any further information or comment.