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Outbound Ghost devs DMCA strike their own game and accuse publisher of withholding royalties

“Conradical has not received a single dollar in royalties"

Update: Digerati have provided a statement saying that "Conradical has been timely paid all royalties due to date," and that "Conrad has refused to work with us" to identify issues with ports of The Outbound Ghost. The full statement is included below.

Late last year, turn-based indie RPG The Outbound Ghost was delisted from Steam after a statement from lead dev Conrad Grindheim claimed his relationship with publisher Digerati had “dissolved.” Soon after, Digerati filed a lawsuit against developer Conradical over a breach of contract and “several false defamatory” statements. When reporting on the original news, CJ thought the messy situation could get messier, and he was right. Grindheim has now DMCA’d his own game on console storefronts and accused Digerati of withholding royalties.

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Grindheim’s original Twitter statement centred on the poor quality of console ports and accused Digerati of “profiting from the situation.” In response, Digerati’s owner Sarah Alfieri posted a video on Twitter claiming that Grindheim had “unlawfully tampered” with the game’s Steam page, failing to perform his obligations of making the game a success. Grindheim says the lawsuit is simply an attempt to “silence me and others.”

In his most recent public video, Grindheim shared details of their publishing agreement, saying that copyright owner Conradical was responsible for developing the PC version, while Digerati would “meet the developer’s reasonable quality standards” for the console ports. Grindheim argues that Digerati breached that contract by releasing “poor” console versions that either omitted promised localisation options, or featured them with game-breaking bugs. The publisher allegedly “misled” Conradical by releasing ports that didn’t comply with the “agreed quality standards.”

Grindheim also claims that “Conradical has not received a single dollar in royalties from the publisher based on sales of the game” and that Digerati have been underreporting revenues. Digerati allegedly entered sub-license agreements with other companies, received upfront payments, and didn’t share that information with Conradical. As Grindheim explains in the video, sub-license agreements are common between publishers if they want to release games physically, or in countries like China, but do not have the means to do so.

The Outbound Ghost has been delisted a second time on Steam and GOG, but is still available to purchase on consoles and The Epic Games Store, although who knows how long that will last. It’s a shame to see a cute indie game caught up in such a muddy situation, especially since good Paper Mario-likes are so rare. This likely isn’t the end of Outbound’s legal turmoil, so we’ll likely need to wait a little longer before it’s available for purchase everywhere.

Digerati have provided the following statement (after we reached out to contact them):

Digerati totally refutes Conrad's statements. Conradical has been timely paid all royalties due to date. Digerati advised Conrad of such payments several hour before he posted the video on February 16th.

Conrad also accuses Digerati of not reporting certain royalty payments. This is another falsehood. We provided Conrad with all statements for each revenue source. We have offered a full audit of our books to Conradical’s legal team. They have not exercised this option, but Conrad continues to assert these false claims.

Conrad’s comments about the performance of the game is also noted. While the porting is the responsibility of the publisher, it goes without saying that publisher, porting team, and developer need to work together to iron out any bugs and so we can provide the game that everyone wants. We asked Conrad to help identify bugs or issues; however, Conrad has refused to work with us or communicate with Digerati on any channel.

In his videos Conrad also advertises another Kickstarter game when the promises made to the earlier Kickstarter backers of The Outbound Ghost have not yet been honored. Given that Conrad received all the money from the Kickstarter for The Outbound Ghost, Conrad has not attempted to work with Digerati to ensure such keys are given to the donors. Nonetheless, Conrad is getting money to start a different game without focusing on his prior funders. Conrad has not attempted to address his prior funders before starting his next venture.

Needless to say, we are very disappointed that Conrad continues to play out this dispute in the public arena. The matter is currently in the hands of our legal team, and we hope for a quick resolution on these matters.

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