Last week, a former volunteer developer working for Chucklefish on the development of Starbound accused them of allegedly taking advantage of their volunteers. Damon Reece posted on Twitter saying that they “worked for hundreds of hours” on Starbound but were not paid for it, all while the company profited off their and other’s labor. According to another Tweet in the thread by Reece, the reason they brought the issue to light is to serve as a warning to aspiring game devs not to work for free.
i started out my gamedev career working on starbound for almost two years.
i was sixteen.
i worked hundreds of hours and wasn’t paid a single cent for it while the company made unbelievable amounts of money off of my labour, and that of around a dozen other unpaid workers.
— damon “pay your damn workers” reece (@demanrisu) August 28, 2019
Chucklefish has since released a statement through PC Gamer responding to the allegations. “We’re aware and saddened by the current allegations against Chucklefish regarding Starbound‘s early development. During this time both the core crew and community contributors were collaborating via a chat room and dedicated their time for free. Community contributors were under no obligation to create content, work to deadlines or put in any particular number of hours. Everyone was credited or remunerated as per their agreement.” The PC Gamer article also notes that Reece and other volunteers had indeed signed a contract with Chucklefish, though “they were further enticed with the promise of possible employment at Chucklefish in the future.” Reece makes a comment of this in their thread saying, “a couple of them [volunteers] ended up working at the company. it doesn’t mean they weren’t exploited too.”
Ok, one final addition before I sleep for a million years: journos, I’ve seen the slimy Chucklefish statement and I have a response available. Email’s on my website.
— damon “pay your damn workers” reece (@demanrisu) August 30, 2019
After Chucklefish made their statement to PC Gamer, Reece shared the story on their Twitter page with more to say on the issue. “chucklefish has admitted to exploiting the unpaid labour of dozens of people, mostly minors, but has refused to acknowledge that It’s A Bad Look. pretty pathetic statement. pay your workers. your game wouldn’t exist without them.” They then noted in another Tweet that, “this response isn’t even *close* to good enough.” It would seem that the issue is far from resolved, at least in Reece’s eyes.