Contracts Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Contracts RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Is ARK: Survival Evolved, about to go extinct? Sun, 03 Apr 2016 07:31:13 -0400 Engela Snyman

It's getting hard to be a developer of late.

Jim Sterling is having a tussle with Digital Homicide, Zenimax and Oculus are having a throw down, and now Studio Wildcard - the developers of ARK Surivial Evolved- and Trendy Entertainment, the creators of Dungoen Defenders, are exchanging DPS over a clause.

What's the scoop?

Essentially Trendy is accusing their former employee, Jeremy Stieglitz, of breaking a non-compete clause in a contract he signed with them in 2014.

The whole debacle started after a few Trendy employees complained about the terrible working conditions they had to endure under Stieglitz leadership. In response, Trendy Entertainment immediately removed him from the team.

Stieglitz in turn, told Trendy Entertainment his own working conditions were just as bad, and demanded either certain employees be fired, or they make it easier for him to quit. The two came to an agreement and Trendy reduced the non-compete clause in Stieglitz's contract from three years to one. This clause was prevented Stieglitz from entering the same profession, or start a similar company for one whole year. 

These sort of clauses are currently on the rise in many companies. They shackle employees to the company, and can even prevent them from getting better jobs elsewhere. Over-all, it's better for employees to avoid the thing altogether, but for companies that handle sensitive information and technologies - like program codes - it can be a godsend. 

A few days after Stieglitz left, Trendy sent him this email:

He didn't exactly waste any time, did he? But he did respond to the email, apologizing for his breach of contract, and promised his former employers that he would stop working on ARK. Trendy accepted the apology, and the case should have been closed.

But Stieglitz then went ahead and actually co-founded Studio Wildcard, and even - allegedly- stole six employees from Trendy to work at the new studio. He also reportedly shared company secrets and development techniques he learned and perfected at Trendy. 

It gets juicer

Throughout 2015 Trendy continued to send cease-and-desist emails to Stieglitz, warning him that if he did not stop working with Wildcard, they would take legal action. Trendy even noted his use of 'stealth mode' by having his wife register Studio Wildcard under her maiden name. For some reason Stieglitz didn't take any of this seriously, until finally Trendy filed a lawsuit in December. 

If Trendy wins the case, it could mean a critical hit for Wildcard, but the small company hasn't taken any of this lying down.

Their lawyers have called for the accusations to be dismissed, saying:

"Many of the allegations are disparaging and included simply to be provocative. They are irrelevant, immaterial, impertinent, and scandalous. As such, these allegations should be stricken."

As things stand, it does appear as if Stieglitz is in the wrong. However, a judge will have to decide that.

What does this mean for ARK?

If the lawsuit is not dismissed by 27th of April, the studio might need to remove the game from Steam, halt development, and even shutdown the servers until it's all been resolved.

It would a shame if the game is taken down, it's a jolly fun title, and Studio Wildcard certainly has a lot riding on it. However it stands, let's hope this gets sorted before June 2nd, when ARK will - or should at least - officially be released. 

Absolute Legends CEO Accused of Keeping Prize Winnings from Teams Tue, 14 Jan 2014 06:37:33 -0500 Wokendreamer

The world of eSports is growing rapidly, and so are its payouts.  The amount of money involved in some single League of Legends tournaments is more than most of the people working at them earn annually, so it only makes sense that players and teams, like Absolute Legends, are kept extremely interested in these money events.

Unfortunately, where there is money, there are people trying to take from those who earned it.

Absolute Legends took part in the November 2012 IEM Singapore tournament and did well, with one team winning $3,000 and another earning the second prize of $8,500.  One of the players from Absolute Legends, Daniel "Spellsy" Biery, has now complained that neither he nor any of the other players who were involved in the games in question have actually been paid.

The prize money from the tournament was supposedly sent directly from the ESL to the CEO of of Absolute Legends, Tim Buysse.  This information came from ESL itself in an email to Biery after his sponsor responded to his own inquiries on the matter by saying they had not received the money yet.  These email conversations took place approximately one year ago.

According to Biery, the players on the teams responsible for winning that money have waited all this time for their payout.  Biery has invested a considerable amount of time in documented email conversations with Buysse to try and resolve the situation, but after a year and the CEO's continued difficulty in cooperating, he decided to make the entire mess public to warn prospective new teams about predatory companies.

Ultimately this all might still be questionable.  I do not personally know the players or company, and it would not be the first case in history of a person fishing for sympathy with a false sob story.  One fact makes it hard to discount this Reddit tell-all, though.

This same story is being mirrored by players on every team Absolute Legends has.

The Singaporean team has previously posted on Reddit about not having received any money for travel expenses, something contractually and explicitly promised to them, and therefore entirely unable to attend major international tournaments.  There are even reports of Starcraft 2 players suffering the same issues with travel expenses and prize money.

As a side note, Buysse is better known in the gaming community by his former Starcraft 2 handle, Wetdream, and is notorious as a repeat-offending hacker in the game.

How the situation will be resolved is unknown.  The players involved have all moved on to other things, though some wasted a very great deal of time trying to remain loyal to Absolute Legends.  This is both low-brow gossip and cautionary tale to us all.  League of Legends is a game, and a glorious opportunity for those with the talent and drive.  We just need to remember not all of those people are driven to be fair, nice, or even legal in their dealings with others.

Players Union? Good in Theory Tue, 25 Jun 2013 13:52:20 -0400 Torte de Lini

In our last article, we discussed the volatility of a pro gaming career ranging from poor tournament structure and plans to basic game balance and latency. We noted that although these effects are not the final nail in a player’s career’s coffin, they do have major influence on the mentality of the players, their enjoyment of the game as well as their ultimate future (especially with Blizzard’s World Championship Series being the playing field now).

In this article, we aim to consider the idea of a players union; a ‘safety net’ revolving around representing the interests of players and having the support they need throughout their career. While in theory, this idea sounds quintessential towards creating more stability for pro gamers careers, putting it into practice might require more than just organization. What would a pro gamer’s association offer? What would be needed to make it successful and solvent?

A couple of months ago, the idea of players unionizing was posted by Evil Geniuses StarCraft II player, Chris ‘HuK’ Loranger. The conversation that ensued seemed optimistic, but little came out of it. This isn’t the first time that unions, in general, have come up in E-Sports : Team Natus Vincere, back in March, pulled out of the Copenhagen Games in view of “disrespectful approach” to create a team association:

Such a disrespectful approach towards the teams causes me to feel an utmost disappointment in modern e-Sports”, says Natus Vincere CEO Alexander “ZeroGravity” Kokhanovsky. I ask all the teams who know me as an individual and trust me as e-Sports functionary to think about the treatment we received this very time. Next week Na`Vi initiates the creation of e-Sports Team Association together with other prominent teams. This organization will drastically change the face of modern e-Sports from the very first day of its creation.”


No follow-up on the idea has come up either. The concept of teams or players banding together sounds like a dream come true but nothing has officially materialized. In fact, it took Blizzard Entertainment nearly three years (discounting Brood War times) before creating a form of an association between event organizers across regions. Even this form of event regulating is immensely flawed and detrimental to the growths of these companies. Why does it take so long for any form of representative associations to form and maintain itself for the sake of the groups they aim to support?

Adam Apicella, Operations of Major League Gaming, stated that a player association would create consolidated feedback that would forward event-organizing business as well as enforcing players adhering to standard conduct. However, what it demands from the players as well as those supporting the idea is a lot more crucial to consider than how far an association can reach in terms of influence and control. Below is a concise list of some basic issues a player association faces from its planning to inception:

  • Who will start up an association (who is available to do it)? It is without a doubt that an association would not only be a huge charity of time, but also demand a lot of unbiased perspective from its board of members. Who would be representing and running this association? On what grounds do we establish someone capable of planning and jumpstarting this much-needed org.
  • What are the limits and power of this association? There are many things an association can do, is expected to do and would realistically feel it can achieve. However, there are also many things the scene cannot promise but is expected by most pro gamers. The expectations of treatment of the players at events, as a part of a major team and vice-versa would be difficult to uphold and re-enforce. On the opposite end, how would a players union punish a player for not upholding an agreement? Would teams feel comfortably relinquishing that responsibility to a secondary group? When it comes to power and political influence, there is no true line to set, but many gray-zones to discuss and negotiate with all major parties.
  • How would a players union keep and maintain its membership? Because the majority of pro gamers are young male adults, many of them do not comprehend the benefits of a union beyond their own self-benefit. When you are earning below minimum wage and seeking every opportunity to advance yourself; a players union may seem beneficial in the short-run, but demand too much from them in the long-run given the start of this association would be an uphill battle (and require many sacrifices). Either the players union would have an exclusive membership reserved for a small group of the pro gaming population (thus nullifying its relevance and capabilities in political power) or welcome everyone, but be disproportionate in its decisions and enforcement of those (especially when that decision goes against the bottom-majority).

The end-result of a player union would be one that either makes sure the basics are provided for the players (from teams and event accommodations) and the same is expected of them in terms of mannerisms and upholding agreed terms of contract/participation. Because the finances of each event differs so greatly, the common basis of expectancies that a players association can uphold would be rather low, almost redundant in that teams can follow-through themselves and handle each issue on an individual basis. At the start, a players union may be as redundant as foretold here, however in the future we may see the better demand and more rounded services it can offer and follow-up with.


eSports Management Group [LLC.] offers a further middle-man for individual personalities and eSports popular members. Though it is no players union, they offer stronger negotiating power, marketing and content support for a small cut of the client’s earnings.

All in all, a player’s union would be a great asset to establish and improve, but the fundamental adversities it would need to overcome and the amount of constant communication it would have to maintain with players, teams, sponsors, event organizations and game companies might be just too overwhelming currently. I find companies such as the eSports Management Group (LLC.) are a great tool for individual players to rely on for negotiating power and support team to improve their reputability and would like something that for players of all backgrounds and popularity levels. So while there may not be a players union in the near future, a supportive group to back up pro gamers is always in demand and appreciated.