Paranoia: happiness is a mandatory lawsuit between Nacon and the creators of paranoia

French publisher Nacon is involved in another dispute. This time, the studio is at loggerheads with two of the creators of the Paranoia Video game table IP removed from the list Paranoia: happiness is obligatorywhich disappeared from the Epic Games Store in early 2020.

What’s going on with Paranoia: happiness is obligatory?

Paranoia: happiness is obligatory was launched in late 2019 exclusively on the Epic Games Store. It was later pulled from the store without comment in early 2020, and now it looks like we know why. According to a series of legal documents (discovered by the French platform Gamekult), Happiness is mandatory was removed from the list due to a dispute between publisher Nacon and two of the creators of the original IP, Greg Costikyan and Eric Goldberg, which resulted in a DMCA complaint filed by the two.

Paranoia: happiness is obligatory was mysteriously delisted in early 2020, but legal documents could shed some light on the matter.

Work on Paranoia: happiness is obligatory began in 2016, with development tasks being handed over to Nacon subsidiary Cyanide (which would later delegate some of these tasks to Irish developer Black Shamrock). The game was pushed back several times, until, according to Costikyan and Goldberg, Nacon arrived at a late 2019 release window, unbeknownst to them. Costikyan and Goldberg received a preliminary version of the game in September 2019, and they were contractually obligated to evaluate this version in order to approve it. However, the two discovered no less than 74 bugs, both minor and major, leading them to conclude that the game was not ready for release.

Costikyan and Goldberg told Nacon of their opposition, but Nacon supposedly went ahead and released the game anyway without consulting them first. Both Paranoia the creators demanded that Nacon remove the game from the Epic Games Store, where it had been exclusively released. When Nacon refused, they contacted Epic to DMCA the game, claiming its release was an infringement of their intellectual property rights and a violation of the agreement they had signed with Nacon. Epic complied in January, when Paranoia: happiness is obligatory was removed from the front. Nacon sued Costikyan and Goldberg for removing the game from sale, and Costikyan and Goldberg filed a counterclaim alleging breach of contract by Nacon due to the game being released without their approval.

Nacon gains notoriety

Remarkably, this isn’t the first time a partner has DMCAed their own game published by Nacon. Last year, The sinking city Developer Frogwares filed a DMCA complaint against the game, stating that Nacon had re-uploaded it onto digital distribution platforms without the developer’s knowledge or consent. Frogwares accused Nacon of hacking their game in order to release it again. Nacon responded by saying that Frogwares was trying to “sabotage” its investment in The sinking city and that the Ukrainian studio’s accusations were “unwarranted”. Whether or not Nacon was right then (and is right now), these public squabbles aren’t good to watch.

Charles Reed clinging to a post in The Sinking City
Nacon was the subject of a DMCA complaint against a game it once published, in the form of Frogwares The sinking city.

In their lawsuit, Costikyan and Goldberg seek $150,000 in damages and claim that Nacon breached their contract. We reached out to Nacon to comment on this story. They told us they’ll have a “totally different story” than Gamekult’s, but the studio won’t officially comment on an ongoing legal case. It doesn’t look like this dispute is going to go away any time soon, nor does it look like we’ll have an imminent reissue of Paranoia: happiness is obligatory. We will tell you more about this situation as soon as we have it.

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