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 This topic has been pinned, so it's probably important
Krobill  [developer] Sep 2, 2016 @ 1:36pm
Torrent versions & cancelled keys. Why we did and said some things you might find shocking
Ok, I plead guilty, I should have done this a few days ago already. This post may be a bit long but I'll make every effort to be thorough, calm and factual.

A few chronological facts first :
- september 2012 : we release Transcripted on Steam with a publisher, Topware Interactive
- october 2012 : things start to go wrong when Topware breaches several major clauses of our publishing deals
- february 2013 : we file an official complaint against Topware under the jurisdiction of the court of Cologne, Germany
- march 2013 : Valve kindly removes Transcripted from the Steam store at our demand until we have settled our dispute.
- 2013 - 2015 : Topware has sold Transcripted on multiple digital stores often lowering the price by 90% or giving in large bundles of games starting sometimes at 1$ of course without our consent. During that period we regularly tried to contact several stores to ask them not to sell our game during the legal procedure. By lack of financial means, we never were able to force anyone to comply.
- august 2015 : Topware is found guilty of breaches in our publishing deal and sentenced to pay us 19 000 euros. The publishing deal is revoked (we can do whatever we want with our game)
- october 2015 : Topware is insolvent and can't pay // Official end of the publishing deal even if it was not broken by the court.
- march 2016 : Topware which is supposed to be in liquidation announces a major title (Two Worlds III) and is still selling our game on multiple digital outlets (Topware's shop, amazon, fnac, ebay...)
- june 2016 : we finally find the time to work once more on Transcripted to re-fit a proper version, with a few bug fixes and improvements
- july 2016 :

A few other bunch of facts :
- we don't know every sites where our game was sold
- we don't know how much copies of the game were sold or given away in bundles
- we were paid only 10 000 euros of the 40 000 euros stated in the contract for the retail physical version (on which no rev share was agreed)
- we were never paid a single euro of the rev share that was agreed
- we never received a single sales report until the court of Cologne forced Topware to do so. The only report we did get at that point was shady and incomplete at best.
- to this day Topware is still completely illegally selling our game on multiple digital stores including their own website
- we already invested around 10 000 euros of legal procedure (lawyer, court fees, contract translation) for no obvious result.
- we always had the IP of our game but we really recover the right to publish our game by ourselves in august 2015.
- we don't know who operates Topware today or even if it's still an actual company.

Wow, ok... Now let's get into the thick of it : you may have read me saying that I'd rather see players pirate our game and use torrent versions rather than actually buying copies anywhere else but on Steam. Why did I say that ? Because apparently, this was received by some people like a BS incitation to piracy or a shady maneuver to achieve god knows what.

Piracy is endemic whether I like it or not (I don't), whether people admit it or not. It's like that. I really really prefer when people actually buy our game but it's not the end of the world for me if players choose to play our game without paying. I really think it's hurting the industry. But there's not much I can do about it apart from doing great games and trying to make players like us enough to actually give us money. Now what really really hurts me deeply if is you get our game by paying others. And it hurts even more if those people are a publisher that essentially stole our game and literally years of our work. As of today, ALL copies sold outside of Steam are illegal. They are all going back to Topware more or less directly or what remains of Topware... and they DO NOT HAVE THE PUBLISHING RIGHTS ANYMORE. Please, please do not give them money for our game. If you find we ask too much for it, don't buy it elsewhere... just use a pirate version, it's hurting a lot less. Thank you.


Now a subject even more touchy, why did we had product keys cancelled by Valve ?!

You have to understand that during the legal procedure against Topware we decided to avoid trying to do things by ourselves. Deciding to publish the game by ourselves would have been super risky. It would have been an opportunity for Topware to sue us back. So we waited... but one day I realized that Topware had generated around 100 000 steam keys for Transcripted. They sold those sometimes by themselves or with box versions. At that time, I did ask Valve to remove those keys but the only thing possible was apparently to prevent anyone from generating more keys. Those 100 000 keys owned by Topware were theirs and we couldn't do anything about it until the court reached a decision. I accepted the decision without protest.

Now a few months ago when we decided that we would once more release Transcripted on our own, I contacted Valve. They were super helpfull but asked us to prove that we had indeed recovered all the rights of publishing for Transcripted. We supplied the necessary documents and from there it was only administrative paperwork. We really wanted to give a new shot at publishing Transcripted by ourselves but the 100 000 keys of Topware were still looming over us, a threat to any commercial move we could make. If they decided to do so, they could have distributed thousands of keys for free or a few cents. Since we knew they were still trying to sell our game illegally, it was a real possibility. If you don't know the situation, you can be convinced that you're buying something which is perfectly legal. Yet it's not. It's like buying a stolen car.

And right now Topware is selling Transcripted for a third of what we ask on their website. So once more, I asked Valve if they could cancel those keys... and to my surprise they agreed. All keys that were not redeemed at the end of July 2016 were instantly useless. Topware can now only threaten us by selling box versions of the game for which they surely don't have very large stocks.

And what if you had a key or several keys cancelled by this move ? Well, very honestly, we can't and most likely won't do anything about it. I'm very sorry about this but there's really nothing we can accept or we will be bullied to death by a large crowd of scammers.

If you bought keys after august 2015, this is really only Topware's reponsibility so you have to turn against them or what remains of them. We can't have people buying Topware's dummy keys and then turning back to us for reparation.

If you bought keys before august 2015 and didn't redeem them until july 2016... Damn, sorry but who's actually doing that really ?! I discovered with this story that people were actually buying keys in bulk for "later". Err, right... For you weird people, I'm truly truly sorry. You might find that we still owe you something, that at this point Topware had the right to sell our game at any price and that we have to honor this transaction for them now. I disagree. Moreover, if you come to us to ask for a compensation how am I supposed to know your grievance is legit ? You would be amazed at the number of emails I received each week by scammers impersonating youtubers or streamers to receive free keys of our games... Scamming for keys has become a worldwide sport! Through lies, threats, blackmail, etc.

Right now we are trying to see if we can make any kind of money from our games. It's really important because if we fail, we will simply stop doing games. So the very little we have we can't start to give it away because others have cheated us. We won't be weak about this and I truly hope you'll be able to understand that and forgive us for any wrong you may feel we have done to you.

I'm not sure anyone will read this through, but if you have I thank you.

I truly hope you have or will enjoy Transcripted and our next game Drifting Lands.

- Alain


Last edited by Krobill; Sep 2, 2016 @ 2:07pm
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Showing 1-15 of 47 comments
glub ♥Linux Sep 2, 2016 @ 3:02pm 
Very interesting, and totally understandable.

Now I feel compelled to buy the game again, now that it's your own publishing business.
hmmm something something Linux...

Wishing you all the best.
Nico Sep 3, 2016 @ 5:20am 
I had the oportunity to grab an old steam key for your game for very cheap price. After reading your post, I cancelled the trade. I prefer to own it legally...
Shadow Sep 8, 2016 @ 3:42pm 
O.o While I was searching for Topware games to see if I owned any I saw that Transcripted Demo showed up in the list: http://store.steampowered.com/search/?publisher=Topware%20Interactive&page=2 maybe you guys should check with Valve about that. Luckily, clicking it takes you to the Transcripted store page that shows you guys as publisher.
Air Sep 12, 2016 @ 3:11pm 
I hope the game doesn't end up on http://store.steampowered.com/curator/10451722-Anti-Consumer-Practice-Report/. They usually register non-consumer friendly practices.
Shadow Sep 12, 2016 @ 3:57pm 
Originally posted by Air:
I hope the game doesn't end up on http://store.steampowered.com/curator/10451722-Anti-Consumer-Practice-Report/. They usually register non-consumer friendly practices.

I don't see how this game could end on that list, but well.. let's hope it won't. Oh hey, guess which games from which company is already in that list?
Krobill  [developer] Sep 13, 2016 @ 12:14am 
Don't worry. Being or not on that list, the game can't sell worse than it is currently...
Air Sep 13, 2016 @ 1:44am 
Originally posted by Krobill:
Don't worry. Being or not on that list, the game can't sell worse than it is currently...
The game just needs some more marketing P'zazzz. But there are always daily/weekly/midweekly/summer/winter/halloween sales, you want your game to sell during these open wallet periods. You could even bundle your game on Steam with other developers, like Sometimes You does or even like that Airscape/Battle Ranch game.
serebix Sep 16, 2016 @ 1:44pm 
If we find the time we would love to give your game a shout out on our youtube channel "Spielkinder". We are small but love such indie games (and when sciences is in it, the better). So maybe till later ;D
Red Sep 17, 2016 @ 10:35am 
Wow, didn't know about that story.

I saw a boxed copy at a Fnac a few months ago, and decided to put this game on my wishlist since it seemed interesting. But I was surprised that I couldn't find it on Steam; I now understand why.
Today I read my "Canard PC", and find out the game's back for sale after this story, before reading this post.

Is there any extra I'd miss out on compared to the boxed version (except the physical copy... such a shame there's no really official one) with this official re-release?
Also, I'm pretty sure said boxed copies won't harm you anymore, since I believe TopWare made the money when they sold them to the stores, but also that they don't get any money on activation... Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong though.
Krobill  [developer] Sep 17, 2016 @ 10:45am 
Box version's is less up to date that this new release (see the last steam announcement for the game for the complete list of modifications)

Topware is still selling box versions online for which they can very much earn money and they are also still selling Steam keys. These keys, as stated here are no longer valid but it doesn't seem to bother them.

Once more, we are very sorry to be unable to prevent them from doing that but it would cost us way too much money for absolutely no gain.
Red Sep 17, 2016 @ 12:21pm 
Originally posted by Krobill:
Box version's is less up to date that this new release (see the last steam announcement for the game for the complete list of modifications)

Topware is still selling box versions online for which they can very much earn money and they are also still selling Steam keys. These keys, as stated here are no longer valid but it doesn't seem to bother them.

Once more, we are very sorry to be unable to prevent them from doing that but it would cost us way too much money for absolutely no gain.
Ah, I see... I was taking about box versions in stores independent from them though. They must have already made their money when they sold the concerned copies to the concerned stores, thus the harm was already done and buying such a copy can't harm any more. At least that's how I think it works, again feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Them selling illegal, not to mention as well impossible to activate keys, is illegal though imo. They're basically selling a non-working product (which by itself is prohibited afaik) that they're not even allowed to sell. Brilliant...
shade00 Sep 23, 2016 @ 7:17pm 
sorry to hear you got used by an publisher, sadly that happens alot these days with indie developers.
usually being punks who call themselves publishers and barely inform developers of anything.
who in turn only get the games released then drain the sale money...

i was going to mention making a pinned thread, but seems someone else already had in the other thread, so glad people are getting the information quicker on the reason and what really happened.

indie developer wise, your usually better off self publishing.
as ive had a few dev friends who got messed over via the whole publisher deal thing.
which sadly once these publishers got there claws into you they wont let you walk away that easily.

goodluck with your next game hope it goes well, and there is people out there who would help you get the word out and help promote your games.
but be warned there is also more of the darkside promoters who lurk and abuse developers also.
main thing to beware of is if they want large amounts of keys, since small amounts work just as well.
some of them may try to charge you for something ones who care would do for free.

there is also websites like steamgifts and steamcompanion where you can self run giveaways and get noticed pretty well, 50x sg gets you on top frontpage, not sure if sc is the same way.

but yeah this whole situation is deppressing as use to love topware as grew up with septerra core and knightshift, but i guess even some of the best can become corrupted or whatever it may be.

also saw your comment on one of there announcements on there fb page.
makes one wonder how actually active they are at this momment, and whos actually there behind the scenes.
as ive noticed they killed there website forums and are running a price reduction sale on most items, which ill admit almost bought a few things, but im glad i havent.

mostly a copy paste of the comment ive left in the other thread i thought id also share here.
Dontasciime Sep 25, 2016 @ 2:42pm 
You can do whatever you want with your game you say, OK then refund everyone that purchased your game from any store and did not activate their key, If you somehow revoked steam game after it has been added to library then refund customer and enjoy a boycott of your games
serebix Sep 25, 2016 @ 2:49pm 
Originally posted by Dontasciime:
You can do whatever you want with your game you say, OK then refund everyone that purchased your game from any store and did not activate their key, If you somehow revoked steam game after it has been added to library then refund customer and enjoy a boycott of your games
Maybe read the text before you demand unrealistic things? The revoked keys were illigal sold copies. Nothing more then pirated versions. Even when people bought them it don't change that fact. If you want to complain, complain were you bought the key and asked them for a refund not the hard-working people that got screwed over more then anyone of us.
Dontasciime Sep 26, 2016 @ 2:02am 
I read the text and every bit of it stinks. A purchaser of the game hands over money for the game, they are not to know what is going on behind the scenes when they purchase a bundle from Bundlestars,or Groupees, IG etc nor can they see into the future that someone who is now essentially nothing more than a thief will steal back their key. The dev has every right to be aggrieved at what happened to them but they are now no better than Topware for the actions they have took against people who have paid for the game legally, regardless of what someone in a misinformed court has granted the devs, every purchase of the game was legal at the time of sale before that. As a buyer of hundreds of games how are you supposed to know that the dev is not happy or has poor negotiating skills. Got screwed over more than anyone of us is a bit dramatic. :lol. So from 2012 to Aug 2015 a buyer who has had game revoked has had their purchased game stolen from them as they purchased it legitimately and even after that date how is buyer supposed to know the key in the bundle they are buying has been stolen? It is not the responsibility of the buyer to know this, there is no requirement of an hp check for games. The dev was angry and has made a bad decision which affects legitimate purchases. The analogy used by them to justify their actions is not lawful anywhere. I know I'm never buying any of their games from now on in for the fear they'll steal them back because they feel aggrieved I got it half price or I used a coupon one day out of expiration. So it's clear you would have to be told before you bought the key that it was stolen for it to be illegal as at time of purchase without this knowledge as far as anyone that is buying is concerned it is a legitimate transaction for services goods etc as surely bundlestars, ig, groupees and all well know bundle sites are not stealing things from people. Steam/Valve surely generated the keys, so are you saying they pirated? *uns
Last edited by Dontasciime; Sep 26, 2016 @ 4:56am
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