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Stardew Valley creator distances from under-fire publisher Chucklefish

Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone has clarified his relationship with the game's publisher Chucklefish, which is accused of exploiting volunteers during the development of Starbound.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

October 4, 2019

2 Min Read

Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone has clarified his relationship with Chucklefish after the developer-publisher, which published the wholesome farming simulator on a number of platforms, was accused of exploiting volunteers during the development of Starbound

Outlining the situation in a blog post, Barone explained Chucklefish has only ever served as Stardew Valley's publisher, which meant handling business and marketing, aside from a single instance when a sole Chucklefish employee created the game's multiplayer net-code. 

He also pointed out that he's been self-publishing Stardew Valley on PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PS Vita since December 2018, meaning the under-fire company hasn't been involved with that side of the business for over nine months.

"I am aware of the news and social media reports that Chucklefish allegedly engaged in unfair and potentially abusive labor practices during development of their game, Starbound. I feel the need to address this situation because the connection between Chucklefish and Stardew Valley […] has been a source of confusion for many people," he wrote. 

"Throughout the 4.5 years of development, I was the only person to work on Stardew Valley. Neither Chucklefish nor any contributors working with Chucklefish were involved in creating the game, in any capacity.

"I can also say that, both personally and in my capacity as the recent founder of a small team, I believe in compensating developers for their contributions in working on games."

In a tweet posted on October 1, Barone also revealed he's now self-publishing Stardew Valley on Switch, meaning Chucklefish is now only involved with the mobile version of the game. 

Despite multiple former volunteers accusing Chucklefish of exploitative practices, the studio has denied the allegations and claims its community contractors "were under no obligation to create content, work to deadlines or put in any particular number of hours."

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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