Court documents may explain the disappearance of Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory

Two years ago, Orwellian sci-fi RPG Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory has been withdrawn from sale weeks after its release. The reason for its delisting remains a mystery, but a set of court documents unearthed by Gamekult can clarify the situation.

O court documents details a complaint filed by publisher Bigben Interactive, AKA Nacon, against the rights holders of Paranoia in October 2021. Greg Costikyan and Eric Goldberg, two of the creators of the Paranoia tabletop RPG, are named in the complaint, which is apparently about an infringement of a license agreement.

Gamekult has access to the defendants’ summary, and the gist of their defense appears to be this: Costikyan and Goldberg were contractually allowed to inspect a pre-release version of the video game based on its creation, in which they reported finding bugs both large and small ( apparently listing 74 of them). They requested that the game be delayed rather than being released in its current state and potentially hurting the Paranoia brand. Nacon, which had already delayed its release several times, went ahead and published it anyway.

Costikyan and Goldberg, unhappy about having their brand associated with the video game, asked Nacon to withdraw it from sale. When the publisher refused, they went directly to Epic with a DMCA request (Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory had a 12-month exclusive deal with the Epic Games Store), explaining that they still owned the intellectual property. As a result, the game was withdrawn from sale on January 24, 2020.

The court case is ongoing, with the most recent document, which is from Friday, granting an extension. I’ve reached out to Eric Goldberg and Nacon and will update if I get a response.

Nacon was also involved in a contractual dispute with developer Frogwares over The Sinking City, with Frogwares using a DMCA Removal to remove your own game from Steam after claiming that Nacon had uploaded a “cracked and pirated” version without permission.

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