Indie Developers From Various Studios Come Forward With Alleged Cases of Abuse

Not so darling studios…

The YouTube channel People Make Games has published an all-new expose that brought to light some of the alleged injustices within the gaming industry. Previous videos from the channel have shone a spotlight on alleged abuses in Roblox and overseas crunch.

This time around, the channel highlighted purported cases of abuse employees at three indie studios: Mountains, Fullbright, and Funomena. What all three studios have in common is that they are all under the publisher Annapurna Interactive.

People Make Games interviewed various developers from these studios and gathered testimonies of alleged abuse and toxic behaviours that were present during their time of employment.

Former employees of Mountains, the Australian studio behind the indie hit Florence, claimed they were victims of emotional abuse perpetrated by the studio lead, Ken Wong. Describing him as an emotional bully, the former staff also claimed they had issues with his overbearing and cruel behaviour.

While Wong has publicly apologised for his behaviour in 2019, it came to a point where the high number of resignations became alarming for publisher Annapurna Interactive. This led to the unanimous vote for Wong to step down as studio head.

However, Annapurna later decided to move Wong to Adelaide and begin a new team. The former employees said they were disappointed by the move, which was seen as an attempt by Annapurna to dismiss the issue.

While Annapurna Interactive has not responded to these allegations, Wong replied to People Make Games saying that he has always sought his teammates’ help in creating a good work environment. He also denied that his move to Adelaide had anything to do with the allegations.

Meanwhile, Fullbright founder Steve Gaynor was similarly accused of cultivating a toxic work environment during his time at the studio. He has since stepped down from his post.

The full story can be found on Polygon, which details the rise and fall of this studio that created Gone Home and Tacoma. The developers at Fullbright contacted Annapurna to step in as mediators, though it is understood the issues were ultimately not tackled.

Lastly, People Make Games interviewed former developers of Funomena, the creators of Wattam. The studio lead, Robin Hunicke, was initially seen as an inclusive and forward-thinking female leader in the gaming industry.

However, her former employees claimed Hunicke shared sensitive information about her own staff and used this info to belittle and humiliate them The employees claimed that the troubled development of Funomena’s games stemmed from Hunicke’s behaviour.

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