The original plan for this article was to discuss the reveal of one of the stand-out games from yesterday’s PlayStation State of Play live stream, the indie sci-fi spectacular Aeon Must Die. Featuring a dark aesthetic and a distinct visual style that immediately reminded me of something like the anime Guyver, it appears to be truly something worthwhile to look forward to in the next year. Now the game’s entire future is in question as accusations come out against the higher-ups at developer Limestone Games by the team’s staff, who all resigned in June. These claims include widespread accusations of crunch, harassment, abuse, corruption, manipulation, and even theft of the property concept, as staff says the trailer from yesterday was finished by outside contractors after they left the company. If you’re playing catch up to this fast-developing story then do yourself a favor and check out said trailer before we jump into the details below.
Shortly after the State of Play stream ended, a Dropbox link was posted by Twitter user @calibrono that dumped a huge amount of information and allegations against the development studio behind Aeon Must Die, Limestone Games. The full series of documents, audio files, and more can be found on the Dropbox link, in which a story of failed mediation on the part of publisher Focus Home Interactive is detailed.
Sony’s State of Play is happening on the 6th of August. One of the planned announcements is “Aeon Must Die!” (AMD), a game created by people who in June of 2020 were forced to leave their former studio Limestone Games along with its founder/creative director. Their reasons were unbearable work conditions with endless crunch, harassment, abuse, corruption, and manipulation. When the team acquired an attorney to figure out the truth behind all the conflicting information and pressure, it was also discovered that the company and the entire IP was covertly taken from the founder. Multiple attempts at establishing dialogue and remedying the situation internally were shut down by the management and majority shareholders.
Publisher Focus Home responded via Twitter this morning with the following:
Our statement regarding Limestone Games and Aeon Must Die!. pic.twitter.com/75ldhtp27T
— Focus Home Interactive (@FocusHome) August 7, 2020
The response from Focus Home is less than supportive, saying “These grievances are directed at Limestone, their direct employer,” but the response does say that it is looking into the allegations. In the meantime, Aeon Must Die could potentially be in limbo, as it is not sure as of yet if the game is completed or if the development studio even has the staff to continue making the game. Of note is that the documentation on Dropbox has not been validated by a third party, so at this point, we’re still dealing with allegations, albeit some well documented ones that seem to paint a pretty damning picture. We’ll follow up on this story if more details come available.
Aeon Must Die is supposed to release on PS4 (curiously no PS5 announcement) in 2021, but we’ll see what happens with the game following these accusations.