A lawsuit has been filed between Ark: Survival Evolved developer Studio Wildcard and Dungeon Defenders creators, Trendy Entertainment that, if successful, could result in the prehistoric survival game’s removal from sale (via. GameSpot).
Trendy Entertainment sued the studio back in December 2015, under the claim that one of their ex-designers, Jeremy Stieglitz breached his contract with Trendy to work secretly on Survival Evolved.
Court documents obtained by Kotaku show Trendy’s legal representatives are claiming that Stieglitz was contractually obligated not to compete with the studio after leaving. This clause was shown to have lasted three years, but had later been reduced to one, ending in August 2015.
Trendy claims that in summer 2015, Stieglitz began contacting Trendy employees after his departure, encouraging them to join him on a new project; something later interpreted to be a violation of the non-compete agreement. After this incident, Stieglitz apparently contacted Trendy promising not to contact its employees again, although this was later broken after Stieglitz allegedly attempted to recruit developers to create Studio Wildcard.
Trendy further claims that Stieglitz ““misappropriated Trendy’s proprietary information, intellectual property and trade secrets for the development and launch of Ark: Survival Evolved,” (via. Kotaku) The Dungeon Defenders dev is seeking “injunctive relief and damages”, claiming that Stieglitz’s behaviours included use of studio knowledge “have had a devastating impact on Trendy’s business.” Wildcard argue, however, that Stieglitz did not take a lead role in the development of Survival Evolved.
Kotaku also report that Wildcard have commented on Trendy’s claims as “irrelevant, immaterial, impertinent and scandalous” and that the argument “reads more like a salacious tabloid story than a short and plain statement of the ultimate facts.” Co founder and former Hololens team member Jesse Rapczak informed Kotaku that Stieglitz was more of a consultant on Survival Evolved, but did not specify how much input was offered. Susan Stieglitz, Jeremy Stieglitz’s wife, was also mentioned to have co founded Studio Wildcard.
The lawsuit argues that despite Dungeon Defenders’ RPG-tower defense and Survival Evolved’s survival qualities, the two games are direct competitors, for both audiences and employees. The case goes to court on April 27. If Trendy’s request for ‘injunctive relief’ is granted, Wildcard would need to cease development of Survival Evolved, and even take the game down from sale on Xbox One and PC.
Ark: Survival Evolved is currently available as an Early Access title on Steam, as well as a Preview title on Xbox One. The game is scheduled for release across PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this summer.