Legal Dispute Causes Removal of Dark and Darker from Steam

Dark and Darker, a popular multiplayer fantasy dungeon crawler, has been removed from Steam following a legal dispute between its developer, Ironmace, and South Korean publisher Nexon.[0] The removal came after Nexon issued a cease and desist letter and a DMCA takedown alleging that Ironmace used trade secrets and copyrighted material stolen from Nexon in the development of Dark and Darker. Nexon claims that the game showed “striking similarities with the concept for P3 in major gameplay, rules and arts, which could not have been made independently.” Ironmace denies the allegations, stating that Dark and Darker is “purposely traditional and generic.”[1]

The dispute centers around P3, a game that Nexon had in development and alleges was used as a prototype for Dark and Darker. A former team leader for P3 left Nexon after being accused of leaking or stealing data, project assets, and source code. Over time, approximately ten other P3 team members left Nexon and moved to Ironmace.[2] The alpha playtest for the game was made available on Steam in December 2022.[2] A couple of months later, Nexon filed a legal complaint accusing Ironmace of using P3 project code and assets in its new dungeon crawler.[2]

Ironmace has argued that Nexon cannot copyright a genre, and that Dark and Darker's genre, concepts, and characters can be found in many fantasy RPGs, including tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons. The developer also points out that Nexon announced P3 as part of a public media showcase in August 2021 and that there are numerous articles about the project online.[1] Ironmace further stated that Nexon's copyrights related to P3 were only registered in the last month.

Nexon's takedown notice cites that Ironmace is making “unauthorized use of Nexon's trade secrets and copyrighted material,” and that based on its own investigation, is using “source codes, art resources, build files, and other company intellectual property.” The notice targets a former Nexon staff member and the previous head of the P3 project, who currently works at Ironmace.[1] Nexon confirms that the employee in question was “disciplined and terminated” for storing code and assets related to P3 on a personal server in July 2021.[1]

Ironmace has issued a statement addressing the situation, saying that Nexon's allegations are baseless and that the company is currently working with its legal team to remedy the issue in the best manner possible.[3] The developer has requested that Nexon renounce its claims and is asking for understanding from its fans as they work to get the game back up as quickly as possible.[1]

Prior to the takedown, Dark and Darker was slated to receive a final playtest in April, after which the title was scheduled to launch on Steam in Early Access before the end of the year.[4] The release of the game and upcoming playtests are currently uncertain and on hold until further notice.[1] The legal battle between Ironmace and Nexon is ongoing, with the publisher having millions of dollars to throw at the situation, while Ironmace does not.[5]

0. “Why is Dark and Darker no longer on Steam?” Dot Esports, 27 Mar. 2023,

1. “Dark And Darker Removed From Steam Following Dispute With Nexon” GameSpot, 27 Mar. 2023,

2. “Dark and Darker DMCA Allegations Are ‘Baseless,' Developer Says” GameRant, 27 Mar. 2023,

3. “Dark and Darker face copyright claim from Nexon, Maple Story creators” Upcomer, 27 Mar. 2023,

4. “Dark and Darker Gets Taken Down by Cease and Desist”, 25 Mar. 2023,

5. “Dark & Darker's Bizarre Steam Removal Has the Internet Up In Arms” Den of Geek, 27 Mar. 2023,

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