Trendy Entertainment has quite the rocky relationship with former president Jeremy Stieglitz. He might’ve helped found the studio and bring life to Dungeon Defenders, but three years ago employees of Trendy reached out to Kotaku to expose how bad the environment under Stieglitz was. Sexism, toxicity, hellish working conditions. You name it. The studio seemed more dysfunctional than your average League of Legends match.
It worked, too. Not long after the report went live on Kotaku, Trendy removed Stieglitz from the development of Dungeon Defenders 2 and hid him away somewhere in the studio. A few months after that, in April of 2014, Stieglitz left Trendy.
Fast forward almost two years, and now Trendy is suing Studio Wildcard – the developers of Ark: Survival Evolved – over actions allegedly taken by Stieglitz after he left the Dungeon Defenders developer. Kotaku again has the full scoop. Trendy claims that he’s secretly been an integral part of Ark since the beginning. Why secretly? Well, because he signed a non-compete agreement, and instead of going on tour for a few months before getting his own show on TBS, Stieglitz – allegedly – decided to instead compete with Trendy by helping to build the Ark.
If that weren’t bad enough, according to Trendy, Stieglitz has also been poaching employees and bringing them aboard the Ark, two by two. Does he have a vendetta? Does Trendy have a vendetta? All I can say with absolute certainty is that this could – and most likely will – get very messy. If all of what Trendy has claimed about Stieglitz is true, and that’s a big if, then it could have dire repercussions for Ark: Survival Evolved, maybe even causing the game to halt production until every last shred of Stieglitz’s handiwork can be torn from the game.
Whether or not there’s enough evidence to warrant a court to take action is for a judge to decide. The actual arguments won’t be heard until April 27 in Florida, and who knows, the two studios could reach an amicable agreement, as unlikely as that sounds, or the court could simply dismiss the case. That seems unlikely, though, as Trendy does seem to have a leg to stand on. It’d be sad to see a game suffer because of the conflict between a developer and one man, even if he has been as big of a thorn in Trendy’s side as they’ve painted him out to be.
One thing’s for sure, it’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out.