Indie Developers Detail Abuse In The Industry

A number of employees from several successful indie studios – interviewed by People Make Games found Chris Bratt – have detailed problems with toxic workplace environments during development. Indie studios Mountains, Fulbright, and Funomena have all allegedly suffered emotional abuse at the hands of their founders Ken Wong, Steve Gaynor, and Robin Hunicke respectively.

According to employees from Mountains – the team behind hit title Florence – the studio had fallen apart after tweets from Tony Coculuzzi accused founder Ken Wong of gaslighting and treating employees poorly. The team allegedly went on to vote Wong out of his leadership role to protect employees from further emotional abuse. These employees also claim that they felt let down by publisher Annapurna Interactive for failing to provide mediation.

A number of employees from Fullbright – the team behind Gone Home – were also interviewed, after reports in 2021 suggested that co-founder Steve Gaynor was responsible for a toxic work environment at the studio. Gaynor eventually stepped down during that same year, but employees interviewed by Bratt claim that they believe Annapurna Interactive – the same publisher of Florence – made multiple mistakes during the situation and were disappointed by the lack of public support for employees at Fullbright.

The final studio mentioned in Bratt’s video is Funomena, the developer behind Wattam and Luna. Employees at Funomena accused founder Robin Hunicke of emotional abuse behind closed doors and claim that her actions are “particularly galling when you consider her public-facing personality.” If you want to know more about these stories and the developers surrounding them, you should definitely check out Bratt’s excellent video which has been linked above. It’s a bit lengthy, but it’s certainly worth a watch.

Rather depressingly, Bratt’s video wasn’t the only story regarding toxic workplace environments to make the rounds today. Ori developer Moon Studios has also been accused of fostering a toxic workplace environment, with several employees sharing workplace chat logs in which founders Thomas Mahler and Gennadiy Korol are seen using slurs. Further reports suggest that publisher Microsoft knew of these allegations and refused to work with Moon Studios on further projects as a result.

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