Wildcard Studios may be forced to pull their hit game from Steam as a lawsuit filed against them by Trendy Entertainment, creators of Dungeon Defenders, claims that a former employee of theirs breached his contract to help develop Ark: Survival Evolved.
The surprise smash-hit of the summer for 2015, the survival game set in a world of dinosaurs dominated Steam’s Top Seller list for many months. Many heads started getting scratched in June 2015 when Ark was first announced, wondering just who Wildcard Studios was.
Back in August 2014, designer Jeremy Stieglitz left his position at Trendy Entertainment. According to Trendy, since the summer of 2015, Stieglitz has been working in secret with Wildcard Studios to help develop Survival Evolved and allegedly contacted other Trendy employees in an attempt to get them on the project. In December 2015, Trendy filed the lawsuit.
This information was gathered from court documents Kotaku received, which show that Stieglitz was issued a non-compete clause after his departure from Trendy. This meant he couldn’t compete with Trendy in the industry after leaving his position. According to the documents, the clause originally spanned three years, but was later reduced to one, set to end in August 2015.
In the documents, it was found that Stieglitz was not on good terms with the leads at Trendy in 2014. He gave them an ultimatum: Either fire certain people at Trendy or find a way for him to part ways with the company. They reached an agreement on June 23 of that year that would tie Stieglitz to the company till August 15, but also reduced his non-compete clause to one year, ending August 2015.
This is when tensions began to mount. In Trendy’s argument, they claim Stieglitz, while still employed with them, was actively recruiting talent away from them for a new project. Trendy’s lawyers issued Stieglitz a cease and desist letter on August 18, three days after he left them company. Trendy alleges Stieglitz got in contact with them and said he “would not engage in such contractually prohibited conduct again.”
Trendy would go on to claim that Stieglitz continued to contact their talent and that Survival Evolved was in direct competition against them, for player base and studio talent. (It should be noted that Survival Evolved is an open-world survival game with dinosaurs, while Dungeon Defenders, Trendy’s title, is an action-RPG/tower defense game.) Wildcard is asking for the court to dismiss these allegations, calling them “irrelevant, immaterial, impertinent, and scandalous.”
The whole article posted above is a very interesting read, painting a picture for both sides of the ongoing legal action. It’s even brought up when Trendy employees contacted Kotaku three years ago to complain of horrid work conditions.
Trendy has filed for “injunctive relief and damages” in Eight Judicial Court of Florida, their state of operations. The hearing date is set for April 27.