Chucklefish Accused of Exploiting Young Devs – Inside Gaming Daily


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Thanks to Rho Watson, Samanthuel Gillson, Clark Powell, and Damon Reece for sharing their experiences with us for this story!

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[Polygon] Young developers on Starbound say Chucklefish exploited their free work
[Gamasutra] Chucklefish’s Starboundsurpasses 2.5 million copies sold


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  1. It is weird how I never seen this video before and it all makes sense what they are talking about. Starbound is a mess of a game and we shouldn't be surprised since it was put together by randoms around the world that Chucklefish pretty much leeched off of. Explains why there were tons of cut content and why is the game is in a unplayable state now since there is no one left to actually fix it thanks to Chucklefish poor managing practices.

  2. As somebody with a BA in Game Art and Design, its not just chucklefish but there is a business-wide issue where many small-mid size studios will use freshly graduated students to do free work under the expectation of your name in the credits. Many studios won't look at a portfolio of somebody without 1-2 games under their belt so this is almost seen as necessary for these grads that are just now realizing they have 100k debt that they will have to start paying off in 6 months.

  3. "Our doors remain open to any related parties who wish to discuss their concerns with us directly."

    Translation: Technically we'd be lying if we said we intend to make things right by paying these people what they think they're owed, so we're not going to comment on the matter publicly and instead kind-of imply that we'll set things right by inviting these people to come to us in private so we can privately laugh in their faces where nobody can see.

  4. Some of these people's claims are a little light, just saying. I cant imagine creating hairstyle sprites as being that intensive or time consuming. Then the guy who said he'd preferred payment but accepted the job as a volunteer with implied payment… uh i cant feel sorry for that lol cmon. Work under a contract and agree to it whether its just accreditation or payment, whatever.

  5. Well, now I know why Starbound took so long to come out of beta, because once they officially released it they had to actually pay some people…

  6. Yeah, there is no indication that Chucklefish is willing to make any of this right, just saying "but no, we're better now, of course we're still not going to compensate these workers, that would just be silly"

  7. We don’t know the whole story, but it does seem like a scam. Maybe it didn’t start out that way, but things eventually went sideways and got out of control.

    Best thing to do in that situation is to get out ASAP. As much ownership as you may feel about your work, it is ultimately not yours – don’t get attached, as hard as that is for me as well. Point to it to highlight your accomplishments, but invest your heart somewhere else 🙁

  8. I appreciate the the depth of information, but I think that your promo for Igloosoft might not be kosher as far as rigorous journalistic standards are concerned.

    An explicit promo is an item of value and exchanging that for comments from an involved party could be interpreted as a conflict of interest. Generally information freely given is the best thing to report, for both your ethics and your optics.

  9. Great now every time I see that chuckling puffer fish I'm going to think, "he's chuckling because he got away with free labor… er… labour."

  10. Sucking da D for a comment! I've never heard that one before! ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) NOW THERE IS A LINE OUT THE DOOR! 🤣🤣🤣

  11. This has been happening in the UK games industry for a long long time. I was young, working on Amiga games (Realms of Darkness) and we went months without getting paid until myself, both programmers and managers told our publisher to shove it and left. The game never got finished. We worked on it for like 12 months too. If you look hard enough you can find some of the previews with magazine scans online..

  12. As someone who has been a software engineer for nearly 2 decades. My advice to anyone who wants to get into the games industry is to look elsewhere. Only a small minority have the high life you've probably idolized. In reality, you're better off being a software engineer in virtually any other industry. Working in the area I work, I've cover many tech stacks, I've always been paid, I've never been made redundant, I've steadily worked my way up the ladder in skill, responsibility and respect, I have very little crunch or overtime, and I have no desire to stop. Where as, what I hear from game devs is they want out after a few years, they never get the exposure, their job is always tenuous with the growing and shrinking, they have to really grind to get anywhere, and they get less money in general, plus gamers are vicious and entitled in their feedback when compared to clients with contracts.


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