The sleeper hit PvP dungeon crawler Dark and Darker is still booted off Steam, and the legal dispute between developer Ironmace and Nexon means there's no telling when—or even if—it will come back. So I was a little surprised to hear that plans are now afoot for a mobile version of the game, being developed by none other than PUBG: Battlegrounds publisher Krafton.
"We’ve been watching Dark and Darker's potential and distinct creativity with great interest," Krafton senior head of publishing Rafael Lim said. "From the genre to the setting of the overall IP, Dark and Darker tapped into something compelling with its existing PC release. Here at Krafton, we can’t wait to share these exciting dungeon runs with a whole new community of fans on mobile."
Krafton would seem to be a good fit for this project: It has a number of mobile games to its credit already, most notably PUBG Mobile, a game that shares some overarching similarities with Dark and Darker. Even so, the deal comes as a surprise because of Ironmace's legal situation, which is complicated to say the least.
Ironmace has been embroiled in a dispute with Nexon over Dark and Darker since early 2023, when the publisher accused it of making the game using materials stolen from a cancelled Nexon project. In March, Nexon's legal action led to the game's removal from Steam; Ironmace responded by using BitTorrent to distribute a playtest client, which became something of a PR coup for the studio. In August, the studio released an early access version of Dark and Darker through its website and a digital storefront called Chaf Games, but it remains unavailable on Steam—a big problem for a new game trying to find an audience.
That's a complicated situation for any third party to wade into, and I have to wonder whether Krafton is at risk of losing both the license and the money it spent to acquire it if Nexon prevails in court. It's possible that Krafton is eager enough for the license that it's willing to roll the dice, and it may also have been emboldened by a recent courtroom win for Ironmace: Earlier this month, Nexon's copyright claim in the US was dismissed, as the judge in the case determined that it would be better adjudicated in South Korea. Nexon had argued that the case should be tried in the US "because Korean courts are powerless to compel the production of certain evidence."
Krafton declined to comment on the reasons for acquiring the license now, but confirmed that it is aware of Ironmace's precarious legal situation. "Regarding legal issues, Krafton is monitoring the judicial decisions as a third party," a Krafton spokesperson told PC Gamer.
So it's unlikely you'll be playing Dark and Darker on Steam anytime soon, but on your phone? Well, maybe. A release target for the mobile version of Dark and Darker hasn't been announced.