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.
Grindheim’s original Twitter statement centered 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 publicvideo, 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 localization 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.”
We have DMCA’d our own indie game. Context in this thread.
Please RT 🔁 so that everyone who is potentially affected can see ♥️
— Conrad (@ConradicalGames) February 16, 2023
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.
We’ve reached out to Digerati for a comment regarding Grindheim’s claims.