Ghosting, Racism, And Exploitation Revealed At Game Publisher Nicalis

Ghosting, Racism, And Exploitation Revealed At Game Publisher Nicalis

Game developers and former employees of Nicalis have spoken out against Nicalis CEO, Tyrone Rodgriguez for multiple incidents of abuse and professional misconduct.

Kotaku obtained a number of Skype logs from the Nicalis group chat in which Rodriguez communicates with employees and they reveal a variety of texts that contain racist, antisemitic, and homophobic language from the Nicalis founder.

One Skype log shared with Kotaku by a former Nicalis employee shows Rodriguez calling external partners “retards” and his employees “you gays.” In another Skype exchange shown to Kotaku, an employee talks about watching Star Trek and Rodriguez says, of Jean Luc-Picard, “I like that nigger.” Two other former Nicalis employees said that Rodriguez would, as a goof, encourage one employee to use the n-word in Skype group chats. Said a third, when I asked: “I haven’t experienced anything like Tyrone demanding people use racial slurs, but he likes to say ‘white is right’ often in a ‘jokey’ way.”

Game developers such as game developer David Crooks from Enter the Gungeon explained how he first met Rodriguez and sent him the code behind this game which would be used for a PlayStation 4 port of the game but never heard back.

Crooks, Rodriguez, and Devolver marketing boss Nigel Lowrie struck a deal: Nicalis would handle the PlayStation 4 port for Enter the Gungeon when it came out the following year. Crooks and his team had Nicalis sign a non-disclosure agreement and gave them access to their source code for Enter the Gungeon, then went back to work on the game. But soon after that, Crooks and Lowrie both told Kotaku, Rodriguez stopped responding to their calls and emails. Days, weeks, and months went by without a word.

More anecdotes of Rodriguez show him berating employees or pressuring them to uncomfortable situations on company trips or events purely because of his power as the boss of the company.

Binding of Isaac and Cavestory are two highly acclaimed games that were published by Nicalis and served a a draw for many employees who were eager to work with indie titles such as these.

But now the creator of Binding of Isaac has reacted to these allegations when being interviewed about them by Kotaku.

“I won’t be moving forward with Nicalis when it comes to the port of The Legend of Bum-bo or any console versions of Mewgenics,” he said in an email. “[Binding of Isaac: Repentance] will still be releasing as originally planned, the team poured their heart and soul into this DLC and it’s very close to releasing.”

What do you think about this expose from Kotaku about Nicalis’ practices and internal culture? Let us know your thoughts below.