The future of NeuronHaze’s promising MMORPG title, Project Genom, was thrown into question recently following a legal battle with an individual coder in a web of conspiracy, blackmail and theft of intellectual property. Information first surfaced on Wednesday, November 23rd, as the developers took to Facebook to inform players that Project Genom had been removed from Steam.
[quote cite=”Team NeuronHaze”]Friends, we are writing this letter with great regret – Project Genom was removed from the sales on Steam. But, we know whom to thank for this! Thank you, Artem Stehnovsky, better known under the nickname CodeSpartan
Was receiving salary 100k rubles (roughly $1,500) monthly, when the rest of the team received much less or didn’t receive any at all. When the game was close to EA on Steam – he stated that he couldn’t work because “suddenly” a house repair was started. In this regard, the team allocated 240k rubles (around $3,500) so he could hire workers and continue to write the code. After receiving the money he disappeared without doing virtually nothing on what was agreed. So a month before EA release the team had to find a new programmer quickly.
After the release on Steam he began to blackmail the team, that if he won’t take 10% of sales income, he will lodge a complaint with Steam (there is correspondence). Unfortunately, Valve policy is – when filing a complaint, to resolve the issue (in court or otherwise) Valve takes the game from sale, and that’s what the scammers use.
Artem had agreed (there is correspondence) that we will pay him 1.5kk rubles up until 20.12.2016. We have prepared and agreed with the text of the agreement with him, but Artem has never signed it.
As of today, 22.11.2016, the conditions of the agreements are not violated by us, and we received the notice of removal the game from Steam, based on a letter received from Artem.
The essence of blackmail is to ensure that the code is his intellectual property, even though he was paid money for it, and at the moment this code was replaced by the code of other programmers. As a result, we hired three programmers who created the code from scratch – thats the reason behind current delay in the project’s development, as there is an insane amount of errors, results in the game just did not work at the required level. [/quote]
The team then went on to summarize the incident advising developers not to work with Artem Stehnovsky. The removal of a game from Steam is not representative of the validity or potential outcome of a legal dispute but it is Steams policy to remove a title from Steam should ANY legal dispute be filed against a company.
In what could be one of the fastest turnarounds of a legal dispute in gaming history, developers NeuronHaze took to Facebook today, just two days later, to inform the community that Project Genom is once again available to purchase on Steam.
[quote cite=”Team NeuronHaze”]Friends, we are pleased to announce that we are back on Steam again. We bring our deepest apologies to all the players, because the game was not available from 23 to 25 November 2016. We are grateful to all those who remained not indifferent to our problem, and for all the words of encouragement that we have received from you throughout these three days. At the moment, our team continues to work on a new version, and we look forward to the first test of the new netcode in the nearest future.[/quote]
These kinds of event seldom vanish without a trace so we’ll be sure to keep you updated of any further developments.