Focus Home Interactive Investigating Aeon Must Die Developer Allegations
The prolific game publisher is "carefully looking into" what's going on at Limestone Games.
One of the most tantalizing reveals during Sony's State of Play livestream was the stylish beat-em-up Aeon Must Die. But while the trailer was unveiled, reports of worker abuse erupted at developer Limestone Games. Publisher Focus Home Interactive has now responded to the accusations.
"Focus Home Interactive has always praised and supported all our partner studios and the developers who compose the creative teams," the studio said in a statement. "We pride ourselves on treating our own employees and third-party developers fairly and respectfully and this will not change.
"Focus Home Interactive was informed of serious allegations raised by some of the developers at Limestone who have worked on the creation of the video game Aeon Must Die. These grievances are directed at Limestone, their direct employer.
"As the publisher of this video game, Focus is carefully looking into these allegations and will draw the necessary conclusions if they are proved to be well-founded, and then take all appropriate measures. No further comment will be shared until we have a clear and complete view on this matter."
Our statement regarding Limestone Games and Aeon Must Die!. pic.twitter.com/75ldhtp27T— Focus Home Interactive (@FocusHome) August 7, 2020
Developers of Limestone Games purport that the indie studio overworked the team and published the trailer without compensating those who worked on the assets. A Dropbox containing allegations against Limestone from members of the development team said they were forced to quit due to "unbearable work conditions with endless crunch, harassment, abuse, corruption, and manipulation." The group, which is comprised of 12 current and former Limestone employees, also said "the company and the entire [Aeon Must Die] IP was covertly taken from the founder" and that trailer "is infringing on the IP of people who have worked on scenes from it without [a] contract and were not paid at any point."
On June 22, the 12 members pointed to in the Dropbox materials claimed they wrote a confidential letter to Focus Home requesting support but it was met with silence. Eight of those 12 developers--reportedly including Limestone's co-founder--handed in their resignation on the same day. A repost of Aeon Must Die's official reveal trailer to a YouTube channel from someone named Erkki Poots contains a description saying the "people who have worked on every shot of this [trailer] are no longer with the company holding IP rights [and some] were not even paid for their work." The description concludes that the IP was "stolen from the creators via foul play." Limestone Games has not publically commented on the matter. The studio's Twitter account has been deactivated and its Facebook and Instagram accounts have been inactive since April 2019. A separate Limestone Games Twitter account was created and links to the referenced Dropbox materials.
Despite everything reportedly going on at Limestone Games, Aeon Must Die is set to launch on Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One sometime in 2021.