This past week, in lieu of scripted, lavish events at E3, live-streamed events were held on Twitch and YouTube. PlayStation held an event on August 6, 2020, showing off games for their upcoming console, and a large selection of both AAA and indie games.
On the same day, on a separate YouTube link, a trailer for the upcoming game Aeon Must Die! was released. The game is currently in development by Limestone games, based in Estonia, and published by Focus Home Interactive. This channel has directly accused Limestone Games that the trailer shown during “State of Play” was stolen. It goes on to provide a link to a Dropbox link full of a group of 12 developers’ claimed evidence of illegal activities in Limestone. You can view all that here.
These developers claim to have tried to resolve these issues prior to the publishing of the trailer; starting with a letter to Focus Home Entertainment. Among their initial complaints, were betrayals of trust and the core values of Limestone, failure to hire staff to fill holes, forcing team members to fill roles only vaguely adjacent to their positions, abusive and toxic behaviors and failure to pay overtime. The same day, 8 employees handed in their resignations.
The developers claim they retained a lawyer and followed through with their advice. The lawyer, states that he believes Limestone Studios is acting in a way to just push Aeon Must Die! out the door, and terminate the employment of the staff.
Following this, it is discussed that the resigning employees will end their contracts at home, without further tasks to the project. Once the Covid-19 Pandemic hit, these employees received notice that they must report to work. They were subsequently terminated for contract violations, allegedly.
Since the trailer, Limestone Games have released an official statement on their website. The CEO of Limestone Games Yaroslav Lyssenko stated:
“These unfortunate accusation by the former employees are damaging the reputation of the studio, all its other employees still working on the game, other games that are being developed and the publisher behind the studio.“
The statement announces they will be involving the authorities as “psychological abuse and dehumanization“ is illegal in Estonian law. It is also punishable to make claims about it. Furthermore, They have stated that local Estonian media representatives are welcome to visit the Limestone Games studio to the employees who are still at the company. You can view the full statement here.
The Game Crater has reached out to both Limestone and Focus Home Interactive, but have not received a reply at this time. This is an on-going story, and we look forward to seeing how it ends.