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Fandom Unlimited Appearance and Courtroom Drama

Todd appeared on Fandom Unlimited’s live Facebook stream to talk about Epic and Microsoft vs. Apple and Google, then we dive into an equally troubling lawsuit between a studio and publisher that you might not have heard about.

Epic (with Microsoft) vs. Apple (and seperately) Google

Important concepts

  • Microsoft xCloud – Announced at E3 2018. A service that will let you play Xbox games from a certain library they maintain and you can stream them to a bunch of devices and play them with an xbox controller. Laptops, phones, tablets, you name it. Launches September 15th and will be included with Game Pass Ultimate for $15 per month – includes Live, Game Pass, and xCloud, making it a great deal

Timeline

  • Microsoft announced xCloud at E3 2018 and suggested you’ll be able to play on many devices, including smartphones 
  • Apple came out and clarified xCloud will not be approved for iOS 
  • After Fortnite attracted many mobile players, Tim Sweeney insisted on a special deal with Apple 
  • Apple flatly rejected Epic 
  • Epic put out an update on mobile platforms, Android and iOS, that optionally circumvents app store microtransactions and just takes money directly from players 
  • Both platforms kick Fortnite out of the store 
  • Epic filed simultaneous lawsuits against Apple and Google 
  • Apple advised Epic it was cancelling all licensing agreements, including Mac and iOS support in the Unreal engine
  • Motions are being filed back and forth, the judge is already treating these motions in a way that seems to favor Apple 
  • This week, Microsoft entered a court filing on behalf of Epic

Frogwares vs. Nacon

Important Concepts

  • Frogwares – Ukranian game studio with offices in Dublin, Ireland. They created the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series, which are really cool games.
  • Nacon, Formerly BigBen – French game publisher established in 1981. Their main markets are France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. 

Timeline

This all comes from a statement from Frogwares, released on Twitter. They say this is all made public in a filed lawsuit so they’re allowed to discuss it. This is strictly Frogware’s side of the story. 

  • Frogwares announced that The Sinking City, which is not a Sherlock Holmes game, but something else they’ve been working on, has been taken down from Steam and most other stores
  • They say this is because they were forced to terminate the agreement with their publisher due to breaches of the agreement
  • They say they signed with Nacon, the publisher, in 2017. The deal was Frogwares would develop the game, Nacon would contribute financially, then Nacon would have the right to sell the game
  • Frogwares says that during production, Nacon fell hundreds and hundreds of days behind in payments
  • Frogwares says that Nacon at some point bought a competing studio working on a similar game and ordered Frogwares to turn over their source code to the other studio
  • Frogwares says Nacon wouldn’t provide consistent figures about sales forecasts and other business plan items
  • Frogwares says that once the game was released and made available in game stores, Nacon sent a letter saying that previously approved milestones are being cancelled
  • Frogwares filed a lawsuit against Nacon in August 2019
  • Frogwares says Nacon is creating a perception that it was not Frogwares who owns the IP. 
  • They say their logo was removed from some game covers. 
  • Frogwares says dozens of Sherlock Holmes and Sinking City domains were bought by Nacon and a tabletop Sinking City RPG was created
  • Nacon went public and suggested that they owned The Sinking City intellectual property outright
  • When Frogwares finally notified Nacon that they were terminating the contract due to all of these unresolved complaints, Nacon said Frogwares couldn’t terminate it because of emergency laws passed in France to protect businesses during the Covid pandemic

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By Todd Mitchell

Todd Mitchell is an independent game developer and freelance journalist. He is the founder of CodeWritePlay where he produces and hosts the GameDev Breakdown and GameDev Breakdown Radio podcasts. Follow him @Mechatodzilla.

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