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

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Two years ago, Orwellian sci-fi RPG Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory was removed from sale within weeks of its release. The reason for its delisting has remained a mystery, but a set of court documents unearthed by Gamekult may shed light on the situation. 

The court documents detail a complaint lodged by publisher Bigben Interactive, AKA Nacon, against Paranoia’s rights-holders in October of 2021. Greg Costikyan and Eric Goldberg, two of the creators of the Paranoia tabletop RPG, are named in the complaint, which is apparently about a breach of a license agreement. 

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

Costikyan and Goldberg, unhappy having their brand associated with the videogame, 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 exclusivity deal with the Epic Games Store), explaining they were still the owners of 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 As a result, the game was withdrawn from sale on January 24, 2020.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 both Eric Goldberg and Nacon, and will update if I receive a reply.

Nacon has also been involved in a contractual dispute with developer Frogwares over The Sinking City, with Frogwares using a DMCA takedown to get their own game removed from Steam after claiming that Nacon had uploaded a “cracked and pirated” version of it without permission.

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