Ark: Survival Evolved‘s future is now up in the air, in light of a lawsuit between its own developers, Studio Wildcard, and Trendy Entertainment, developers of tower defense game Dungeon Defenders. Trendy alleges foul play on Studio Wildcard’s behalf, and their legal action can force Ark: Survival Evolved to be taken down.
The lawsuit seems to have been the unavoidable consequence of hostility between the two companies, and at the center of this conflict is Jeremy Stieglitz, former creative director at Trendy. Stieglitz was the subject of controversy himself while still at Trendy, when the studio was accused of bad management practices, including crunch and discrimination. This issue eventually led to Stieglitz’s dismissal from the company. Stieglitz negotiated the contract to leave Trendy, lowering his non-compete clause from three years to one.
Trendy’s lawsuit alleges that Stieglitz violated that same contract, by trying to recruit some co-workers for a new venture within that final year. Trendy’s own documents indicate they warned Stieglitz, but he continued to solicit co-workers even after promising otherwise. They point to five ex-employees aside from Stieglitz, who also made the jump to Studio Wildcard. Trendy also alleges that Stieglitz was already working on Ark: Survival Evolved within this time, and sharing trade secrets by doing so. Trendy’s own documents indicate they continued to contact Stieglitz long after he left, pointedly stating to him their suspicions right up until this lawsuit.
For its part, Wildcard has asked that the courts dismiss the lawsuit, sharing this statement:
Trendy’s Complaint reads more like a salacious tabloid story than a short and plain statement of the ultimate facts allegedly showing Trendy’s entitlement to relief, as required by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. Many of the allegations are disparaging and included simply to be provocative. They are irrelevant, immaterial, impertinent, and scandalous. As such, these allegations should be stricken.
Neither Wildcard nor Stieglitz has not officially commented on the allegations in the suit, but a response may be forthcoming when they file their own briefs. You can read more details on this case here.
Ark: Survival Evolved is a survival game where players can build bases and traverse fields riding dinosaurs and giant beavers. It recently hit one million dollars on Xbox One, and spun off a game mode; Ark: Survival of the Fittest, into a standalone game.