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Report: Rise of Kong dev allege strained partnership with GameMill

The newly released game was reportedly only made in a year, in what's allegedly a common practice for publisher GameMill Entertainment.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

October 20, 2023

2 Min Read
King Kong fighting two monsters in the cover for Skull Island: Rise of Kong.

Developers of a widely-derided King Kong game are shining a spotlight on publisher GameMill Entertainment, claiming the company is infamous for giving contract studios a very short development period.

Talking to The Verge's Ash Parrish, anonymous staff members at IguanaBee claim the company's newest title, Skull Island: Rise of Kong, had only a year of development. Similar conditions were placed on the company's 2022 release, Little League World Series 2022

"The development process of [Skull Island] was started in June of last year and it was aimed to end on June 2nd this year," explained an IguanaBee staffer. An ex-employee added that it was "quite common" for GameMill to not give the studio all the necessary information for a project.

"It was quite frustrating when working because we had to improvise with the limited information we had on hand," the former developer continued. A current employee further admitted the studio had to crunch in February, during which they were going through the motions because they felt "all hope was lost."

Like Lord of the Rings: Gollum from earlier in the year, Skull Island received attention for its numerous technical problems and outdated gameplay. Staff from the Chile-based IguanaBee told The Verge that it's a talented studio, but a lack of full funding from GameMill impacted what it was able to do with the time it had.

That ex-IguanaBee member recalled when the publisher "let go of a colleague who had been there longer than me. Deep down, I knew it was because the publisher didn’t provide them with enough funding to maintain a certain number of people for an extended period."

It isn't uncommon for a game to suffer from a lack of resources or funding, especially in today's climate. Likewise, it's not surprising that some at IguanaBee refused to speak to the outlet out of worry that GameMill will stop contracting the studio. 

IguanaBee would like to make its own original projects, said one Skull Island developer, but it "doesn’t have the means to develop almost anything on its own because well, money." And because it's best known for licensed games like Skull and GI Joe: Operation Blackout, the developer is trapped in a "love/hate relationship." 

Even so, some have taken pride in creating Skull Island with the limited time they had. Producer Aaron Frenkel wrote a (translated) post on X saying as such, declaring the staff "had a great time developing it, [and we're] proud of our monkey."

More insight into Skull Island: Rise of Kong's development can be read here.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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