Four years after it was removed from sale, Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory has returned

Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory is a CRPG set in an Orwellian nightmare, a sci-fi society overrun by bureaucracy. At one point while playing it I tried to get a broken door fixed so I could get through, and after bouncing back and forth between various repair departments I eventually learned there was a final form I needed to fill out, and that form happened to be on the other side of the broken door. When Paranoia was mysteriously removed from sale weeks after its release with no explanation I tried to find out why, a quest that was just as frustrating as my attempt to get past that broken door.

And now it’s back, just as mysteriously. Paranoia is available on Epic again, where it was exclusively released in December of 2019, and on Steam, which it’s never been available on before. There’s no press release accompanying this, and no explanation on the official Facebook or Twitter account, neither of which has been updated for years. It’s just here, as suddenly as it was taken away.

Court documents eventually offered an explanation for why Paranoia vanished. Two of the creators of the original tabletop RPG the videogame was based on had issued a DMCA takedown, which was possible because release delays had meant it didn’t come out until after the licence had lapsed. Their reason for taking this drastic measure was that they’d been shown a pre-release version and found, even after being delayed, it still suffered from so many bugs and “inconsistent/poor user experience issues” that they considered it “a product significantly below commercial standards” that, if released, “would tarnish the [Paranoia] brand.”

The ensuing court case is over. As of June, a settlement was reached and an order of discontinuance filed. Whatever deal was struck, presumably its terms included Paranoia’s eventual release. It seems to be the exact same version too, with all the same problems. One of the early Steam reviews notes, “Settings menu offers only 2 low resolutions. If you keep any dropdown open in the settings you will be unable to leave the page. One of the player character animations failed to start along with the robot it needed to sync up with. This was all before I had gotten out of the tutorial.”

I’ve reached out to both publisher Nacon and one of the tabletop RPG’s creators for comment, and will update if I receive a reply.

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