Login

Allegations of mistreatment and misconduct at Nicalis surface

Nicalis has worked on a number of titles for Nintendo platforms over the years, starting with the Wii and moving all the way up to the Switch. The company is certainly one of the bigger indie publishers on Switch today, and they've worked with a number of developers to bring experiences to the platform. Unfortunately, it seems that many who worked with Nicalis, both inside the company and through partners, have experienced some rather unpleasant circumstances.

Kotaku has put together a report on the inner-workings of Nicalis, specifically coming from Tyrone Rodriguez, the company's founder and president. Under cover of anonymity, a number of former employees have accused Rodriguez of mental abuse and mistreatment. There have also been claims of Rodriguez using racist terms and phrases on numerous occasions. These claims are backed up by Skype logs of conversations showing Rodriguez using extremely distasteful language.

There have also been allegations of Nicalis ghosting devs and pubs during negotiations for publishing. Apparently, a number of
teams were looking to work with Nicalis to get their games out on various platforms, but those deals never came to be due to Nicalis going radio silent for weeks, if not months.

A Nicalis spokesperson has offered up one response to all the allegations, and have said that they won't be commenting further on the matter. You can see that statement below.

Developing and publishing games is a dream for the staff of nearly 20 that work at Nicalis, Inc. Some of our team have been with the company almost a decade and we work hard to create an environment where we treat our team members with respect. They are what make the company.

We do not condone abusive workplace environments or discrimination and have people from all walks of life. We hope for the continued success of our internal team and our external developers.

Regarding the companies under mutual NDA with Nicalis, Devolver (publisher of Enter the Gungeon) and The Game Bakers (developer of Furi), we can only comment that we do not have any signed publishing agreements with them and never have.

Kotaku's report on the matter goes into much greater detail on the situation. You can read the full feature here.

Thanks to all who sent this in.

Categories: General News
Tags: nicalis

Comments

Top Rated Comment

Just because it's from a specific news site it's somehow not credible? And referring to the way he used the R word/vulgar slurs as "no no words?" Are you for real right now? There's a darn good reason why using any of those words get you banned on pretty much any site known to man, and just because someone is anonymous doesn't mean they don't exist either. A lot of game devs I've followed have since quoted the article and chimed in noting that yea, Nicalis has done some pretty shady stuff, so even if stuff lacked in terms of backing up before the article, there's a lot of credibility now.

People literally go anon in these cases because of people who'll rip and tear at them for accusing someone or something regardless on how much evidence said anon gives. It's freaking toxic and it's why victims have a troubling time coming out against their accusers, which is pretty damn infuriating to see even in cases that are more clear-cut like this.

But yeah if you still don't want to believe victims that's on you, but even then you can see for yourself that Nicalis has *at least* gone through on the ghosting situations since the article flat out linked to a tweet where Lizardcube couldn't get a reply on a Wonder Boy patch from their own publisher, and the less said about the infamous delays of Super 90S GP Racer and Legend of Raven (since 2013 for both titles), the better

I'm surprised to hear Nicalis have been accused of abuse and mistreatment.

windsorg
Thu Sep 12 19 03:46pm
Rating: 5

The report is from kotaku and the only thing that isn't anonymous is that someone used no-no words. I'll hear this out when it comes from a site that doesn't hold open contempt for gamers and game developers who don't toe the line.

Just because it's from a specific news site it's somehow not credible? And referring to the way he used the R word/vulgar slurs as "no no words?" Are you for real right now? There's a darn good reason why using any of those words get you banned on pretty much any site known to man, and just because someone is anonymous doesn't mean they don't exist either. A lot of game devs I've followed have since quoted the article and chimed in noting that yea, Nicalis has done some pretty shady stuff, so even if stuff lacked in terms of backing up before the article, there's a lot of credibility now.

People literally go anon in these cases because of people who'll rip and tear at them for accusing someone or something regardless on how much evidence said anon gives. It's freaking toxic and it's why victims have a troubling time coming out against their accusers, which is pretty damn infuriating to see even in cases that are more clear-cut like this.

But yeah if you still don't want to believe victims that's on you, but even then you can see for yourself that Nicalis has *at least* gone through on the ghosting situations since the article flat out linked to a tweet where Lizardcube couldn't get a reply on a Wonder Boy patch from their own publisher, and the less said about the infamous delays of Super 90S GP Racer and Legend of Raven (since 2013 for both titles), the better

What on earth are you even talking about? Putting aside the fact that the Skype transcripts are damning enough, anonymity is not uncommon in investigative reporting, particularly when the person at the center wields a lot of power in their circle of an industry (as is the case here). Do you just not like Kotaku because they have a progressive bent? Your contempt comment makes no sense.

You should look at the by line instead. This is by Jason Schreier, one of the best investigative journalist in the industry. One person isn't a whole website.

ninjablaze
Thu Sep 12 19 09:04pm
Rating: 2

Ah yes, Jason "Goes on a massive tirade/rant and personally insults the artist of Dragon's Crown because the Sorceress has big boobies" Schreier

It's OK not to like a characters design.

It's not okay to use your platform to personally attack an artist for the design, though.

ferko
Fri Sep 13 19 03:29am
Rating: 1

Art matter is put out to be seen and judged. We have mouths and brains to form thoughts and share them. If you can't handle it too effing bad.

LOL Since when is it an attack if you don't like a thing? Just an opinion.

I remember back in the day when they toyed with us about La-Mulana on WiiWare, then canceled it saying a port was not possible, only for EnjoyUp to put it out mere months later. That never sat right with me, but the way they seemed to keep scooping up high-profile indies, I thought maybe that was an anomaly. Clearly not. Let's hope the company can force out Rodriguez and become a healthier workplace.

Their devs in the Crystal Crisis discord are very nice people and I can tell they really do care about the games they work on... I just wish that this whole business got on the right track. People would love them 100% more if they were transparent on stuff like the long, infamous delays, blacklisting websites, (Nintendo World Report was apparently blacklisted over calling them out on a shitty april fool prank they did) and status updates on all their games. I believe the team at Nicalis are well-meaning people, but the boss has always come off to me as stubborn in a way not unlike a parent, in that if you ask them for something and they also want it they'll work out great with you, but if they aren't in the mood then you aren't going to that mall or getting that game.

caspulex
Thu Sep 12 19 05:00pm
(Updated 1 time)

John Xuandou (@HBJohnXuandou) has been calling them out for years.

Hope people can escape this terrible company. Pixel didn't deserve it, and neither do the guys behind Umihara Kawase.

What are you even talking about?
There's nothing wrong with Cave Story or Umihara.

Thu Sep 12 19 08:22pm
(Updated 1 time)

Capsulex means for the people behind Cave Story and Umihara Kawase to move to a different publisher, run by someone less of a donkeyhole than Rodriguez.

caspulex
Thu Sep 12 19 11:12pm
Rating: 1

Nicalis royally dicked Daisuke Amaya on Cave Story's rights, basically stealing them.

Kero Blaster is a game about a frog that works himself near to death daily for a boss he doesn't speak the language of, also made by Daisuke Amaya. Definitely not an allusion to how Nicalis treated him!

I don't want to see the UH devs hurt the way he was.

Holy shit, I knew about Kero Blaster but I had no idea it was a metaphor for Nicalis and Cave Story. Talk about high art.

Cute theory, any actual proof?
All the facts we have are that Daisuke supports Nicalis and even signed some copies of Cave Story for Switch.
https://twitter.com/oxizn/status/879292353957076992

Proof? No, nothing concrete.

Solid evidence?

He no longer publishes with Nicalis, opting for Playism since Kero Blaster.
He no longer lists Cave Story on his twitter profile.
Tyrone took his name out of the Cave Story Switch credits.

Combined with everything else we know about Tyrone, it's not very radical to suggest that Daisuke had a less-than-pleasant time dealing with him. Whether you choose to read between the lines or not makes no difference to me.

Pixel did give a special thanks to Rodriguez in the credits to Kero Blaster. Not that that settles things and it’s odd that he didn’t partner with Nicalis again (surely they’d have wanted to publish it given the success of Cave Story) but I have to wonder why he’d give a shout out to Tyrone if things really were sour between them.

Could be passive-aggressive. Julie Andrews famously thanked Jack Warner of Warner Bros. during her acceptance speech for the Best Actress Oscar for Mary Poppins, because she won partly because he passed on her for the role of Liza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.

Thu Sep 12 19 05:29pm
Rating: 1 (Updated 1 time)

Oh god, I’ve given them so much money. At least Tyrone isn’t the whole company, but I can’t see myself supporting them anymore. The antisemitic and racist comments and jokes really sting.

I wonder if IGN will speak out, he used to work there before going into the development side.

Unfortunately this really doesn't surprise me.
Rodriguez always came off as an incredibly rude person in almost every interview he gave during the Wii U era, which gave great insight into his character.

rance
Thu Sep 12 19 07:35pm
Rating: 1

I thought this was serious for a second.
Turns out it's just more Schreier nonsense.
If you think those logs are racist and offensive, you've never been in the real world.

I don’t find them offensive because I do believe he is joking with his comments, but if you’re going to make risqué jokes/comments like he has in these logs and use some of the terms he has then you’ve gotta know you’re audience. I have friends who I can make jokes with that I wouldn’t say to the majority of people I know because my friends know that I’m joking and that I don’t believe or support any of the things I’m making jokes about. I’m just conscious to not make particularly “offensive” jokes in general to people who I don’t know well enough out of respect for them and not wanting to make them feel uncomfortable. I agree that people should have a thicker skin in general, and if you don’t like something someone’s saying (assuming it’s not just actively promoting hate) then move on, block them or whatever. That’s fine in most public forums but it’s a different thing when it comes to work.

If Tyrone felt like he knew these people in these logs well enough to make those jokes and comments and that they weren’t bothered by them then it sucks for them to bring them up as examples of Tyrone being a crappy boss/person. But, I suspect that these employees never signified that they were comfortable with him talking like that given some of the other allegations. Or, they didn’t want to say anything to discourage him out of fear for losing their jobs.

Racist, homophobic, ableist, anti-Semitic, etc slurs are not and never have been jokes, and using them is promoting hate.

I know where you’re coming from, but I disagree. There’s no subject that is off limits from being joked about. Telling a joke from the perspective of a particular belief doesn’t mean you hold that belief.

And I understand where you're coming from, and believe it or not, I don't entirely disagree with you. That said, when it comes to humor, and especially dark humor, about minorities, it becomes a question of whether the person telling the joke is effectively punching up, level, or down. If the joke is punching down -- i.e. someone from a privileged perspective, for example cisgender, heterosexual white man, joking about a minority, for example people of color, LGBTQ+, etc -- that's where there's an issue, because the power imbalance makes it so you're not laughing with them, you're laughing at them. Let's consider two case studies: on the one hand, there's a trans comedian by the name of Violet Gray, who joked about a catcaller during a set:

He was like, "I want to spread your legs like pages, and read between the lines with my tongue like a novel," and I was like, um... [beat] "I don't know if this [gesturing at her crotch] is literature you'd be interested in. Not really a novel so much as a pop-up book.

She's making fun of her existence as a transwoman, and since she's telling the joke, you know she's in on it and wants you to laugh. The same joke, reworded to a third-person narrative, wouldn't have the same level of comfort and implicit safety coming from me. By comparison, consider -- and I hate to bring him up, but here we go -- Louis CK's thoughts on the f-bomb... no, not the main one, the gay one:

I miss that word, you know, I grew up saying that word and, I mean, it never meant "gay." When I was a kid, you know, I didn't know what "gay" was, I hadn't been told that people do that. [chuckles] F****t didn't mean gay! When I was a kid, you called somebody a f****t because they were being a f****t, you know? . . . "You're not supposed to use those for that," shut up, f****t! [beat] Like I would never call a gay guy a f****t unless he was being a f****t.

Now, I do have to admit, despite being a gay man and solidly former fan of Louis, this is kind of a funny bit. The problem, though, is that because he's straight, he's on the outside looking in, and can't begin to appreciate the type of hurt that word causes. As such, trying to "reclaim" it in a bit like this rings hollow, not to mention ignorant at best and obtuse at worst. Do I necessarily begrudge him for telling this joke (and only for telling this joke)? Not really. Do I think it comes off immature and kind of gross? Yes, I do.

Perhaps most importantly for the purposes of this discussion, though, saying "that guy's a f****t" or "that guy's a n****r" isn't a joke. At all. Using slurs and then saying "it was just a joke so it's okay" isn't comedy, it's discrimination with a side of gaslighting. And even, to play devil's advocate, if they were jokes, they're not jokes you would tell at work. Ultimately this is just one piece of the puzzle, though; Rodriguez is accused of much worse behavior both professionally and personally, so even if this was a hill to die on, there's still like two or three big mountains next to it.

If you're so inclined, I would highly recommend you watch this video essay on dark humor and who can/should tell a given joke by ContraPoints. It gets into a lot more detailed discussion on the subject than I could here.

Sounds like Mr. Rodriguez is setting himself up for a class action lawsuit. Or at least for competition to pop up and scoop up all these talented people working for him.

Cave story didn't catch me when it came on Wii, and I had everything on the shop due to the "pepsi/rock band" promotion. But their stuff was around and I knew of em but got a bad/shady vibe from him/his PR stuff, than binding of Issac hit. It's totally a game I would never want to play due to the rouge-like aspect. I'm wayyyy to much ocd to not be able to retry things, let alone never complete. The thing is this game was a graphical abortion with questionable content being plastered and hyped for months across the net. I couldn't be more turned off by nicilas at that point. Than todays story dropped, Ha. That explains it. Asshat on a power trip, life ain't a video game, but totally just 'game overed' IRL.

Kevin, did you work with him or someone else from the Co? I just remember the banner being up forever.

ferko
Fri Sep 13 19 03:56am
(Updated 1 time)

Oh no
https://gonintendo.com/stories/125388-gonintendo-end-of-day-thoughts-nicalis-tyrone-rodriguez-answ

Really I just have to laugh at that first line.
"I told you that Mr. Rodriguez was a good guy. " -rmc on nicalis

Sooooo you have to give us a real write up on how he was when actually got to bs with him.... Please.

Edit. Man I really miss those eod articles, it was definitely your writing that drew me here oh so long ago. Bring back eod as a weekly or monthly reflection..... No video needed. I'm reading page 15 of a search of "nicalis" search on here and you were really hyped and doing some good writing.

Cort, you got user stats from 2010? Or they lost? Some nerdy updates on user traffic and stats would be cool once in awhile. Maybe motivate more daily traffic.

Search

Today's VIP

donkeykonga's avatar
Joined: June 2015
Newbie

Social Services

Want to join this discussion?

You should like, totally log in or sign up!