Battle royale adventure game Dark and Darker, developed by Ironmace Games, departed Steam in March 2023, as a result of a cease and desist and DMCA takedown order filed by game publisher, Nexon. While Ironmace vowed to remedy the claims of the order, it now appears the situation has evolved further, as Nexon has filed an official lawsuit against the developer.
As shared by Polygon, Nexon has alleged that Dark and Darker was produced with ‘stolen code and assets’ from a Nexon project codenamed ‘P3’. This game was announced in 2021, and allegedly strongly resembles Dark and Darker. Some of the members of Ironmace – including developer Ju-Hyun Choi – are reportedly former Nexon employees. Choi is named in the lawsuit as ‘the director of the P3 project for the entirety of the development process’.
In the lawsuit, Choi is alleged to have ‘solicited members of the P3 project team to recreate P3 outside of Nexon’ and ‘transferred 11,602 P3 project files from Nexon to its own private servers’. The Ironmace team allegedly includes ‘nearly half of the P3 team’ including Seungha Park, current CEO of the company. Park is also named in the lawsuit alongside Choi.
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Both are alleged to have taken assets and ideas from P3 to form Dark and Darker, which launched its first demo 10 months after Ironmace was formed.
‘The reason Defendants were able to release Dark and Darker so quickly was that they took advantage of the head start given to them by stealing Nexon’s trade secrets – trade secrets that took a team of more than twenty people working for eleven months at Nexon’s expense to develop,’ Nexon has alleged in its lawsuit.
Many of the game’s animations have been compared and referenced in the case – although Ironmace has maintained that most of its assets were generic items purchased from the Unreal Engine Marketplace, and would naturally look alike to those of P3.
The Nexon lawsuit against Ironmace Games was filed in April 14 at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, and reportedly demands a jury trial. This has yet to be dated.