Ark: Survival Evolved May Have Legal Troubles on the Horizon

Ark: Survival Evolved May Have Legal Troubles on the Horizon

Ark: Survival Evolved may be one of the most successful Early Access games on Steam this year, but it appears the survival game may find itself embroiled in a legal case.

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Studio Wildcard, the developer behind Ark, is being sued by Trendy Entertainment, the developer of Dungeon Defenders. The suit claims that former Trendy game designer Jeremy Stieglitz violated the terms of his contract with Trendy by attempting to poach employees to work on a new project that supposedly became Ark

The claims made in the suit allege that Stieglitz not only attempted to poach employees, but that he was a core figure in the eventual founding of Studio Wildcard and in the development of Ark. Studio Wildcard employees deny that he was heavily involved, and instead state that Stieglitz had only consulted on Ark. Stieglitz will apparently join the studio at a later date.

The litigation is still just beginning, and there's really no way to know what may come out of it. However, Trendy is seeking an injunction that would temporarily force Studio Wildcard to stop development on Ark, and perhaps even make them pull the game from Steam.

While Wildcard has yet to respond to the suit, their attorneys have issued a statement, which reads as follows:

"Trendy's Complaint reads more like a salacious tabloid story than a short and plain statement of the ultimate facts allegedly showing Trendy's entitlement to relief, as required by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. Many of the allegations are disparaging and included simply to be provocative. They are irrelevant, immaterial, impertinent, and scandalous. As such, these allegations should be stricken."

As with most lawsuits, this one has all sorts of facets and angles to consider, and since I am not a lawyer, I'll leave that to them. That said, it bears watching, especially for fans of Ark and its recently launched mod-turned-esport, ARK: Survival of the Fittest.

There's a much more in-depth look at the whole case and the history behind it over at Kotaku.

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Oh the grand old non-compete clause, they always stand up so well in court.

Having read the Kotaku article it sounds awfully like one party is upset the other party found success that has largely eluded them.

These kinds of lawsuits always come off like grade-school arguments. "But, Tony totally said he liked me first! And he can't be your friend if he's my friend!"

...Of course, in this case the grade-school arguments can cost millions of dollars and destroy companies.

I "get" it, kind of, where significant internal secrets are on the line and a crucial employee could give away/give up an enormous market advantage. But most of the time, and certainly in this case, it just seems like a petty distraction among a group of people who ought to have far better uses for their time.

I hope the ARK publisher and devs walk away largely unscathed. I look forward to the game in its final form, its really fun and interesting, even on single player.

Well guess whos gonna get metabombed regardless of the outcome.

It seems like the universe is intent on preventing any of these sorts of games from ever getting finished :/, this one seems to have the most promise given it got put on Consoles.

Well, a few fun facts about this case:
The non-compete was reduced from three years to one.
Jeremey is also a wonderful human being.
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It's interesting that the lawyers for wildcard only disputed many of the allegations not all of them. Looks like there is some documentation that supports part of the allegation.

So, they have to prove with a preponderance of evidence that Not only did Steiglitz talk to the employees in question, but that he pressured them into working for Wildcard. Unless there are records, that's gonna be a mite difficult to do. Same thing with the alleged call he made to them where he apologized and stated he 'would not engage in contractually prohibited conduct again' is going to be difficult to prove without a recording and he would have been criminally stupid to admit such a thing over the phone in any case. It's possible of course, but unlikely. Then there's the fact that that the only 'tip' that the Kotaku got claiming Steiglitz was lead designer came after Trendy had been publicly accusing him of such and was anonymous. Not 'wished to remain anonymous' but was entirely anonymous. Not exactly compelling evidence. The pretty much leaves the proprietary info/trade secrets et al. That's where things get interesting simply because to prove those claims Trendy will have to open themselves up to discovery as much as Wildcard.

ravenshrike:
So, they have to prove with a preponderance of evidence that Not only did Steiglitz talk to the employees in question, but that he pressured them into working for Wildcard. Unless there are records, that's gonna be a mite difficult to do. Same thing with the alleged call he made to them where he apologized and stated he 'would not engage in contractually prohibited conduct again' is going to be difficult to prove without a recording and he would have been criminally stupid to admit such a thing over the phone in any case. It's possible of course, but unlikely. Then there's the fact that that the only 'tip' that the Kotaku got claiming Steiglitz was lead designer came after Trendy had been publicly accusing him of such and was anonymous. Not 'wished to remain anonymous' but was entirely anonymous. Not exactly compelling evidence. The pretty much leaves the proprietary info/trade secrets et al. That's where things get interesting simply because to prove those claims Trendy will have to open themselves up to discovery as much as Wildcard.

You forget that email is legally discoverable, it's not uncommon in the work environment that the only point of contact known is the work email address. If he sent an email to a work address they have already got Steiglitz.

Well, at least it's not some asshole company claiming they've got a patent on the word "Survival."

Oh hey it's the old "Let's wait til this former employee's endeavor makes a shitload of cash before we sue him." play that always makes potential consumers really want to purchase from your company and doesn't make you look petty and childish at all.

As someone earlier posted: Seems more like a case of one company getting their underpants in a twist because they aren't as successful as a former employee.

 

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