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Area 35, ex-employee settle defamation suit

Tariq Lacy retracts embezzlement accusations against studio CEO Hiroaki Yura

A Tokyo court has reached a settlement in a dispute between Area 35 CEO Hiroaki Yura and ex-employee, Tariq Lacy. Lacy has retracted public accusations made last year against Yura, stating he had embezzled Kickstarter money to fund another game, Tiny Metal.

The issue began late last year, when Lacy made a public comment on the official Facebook page for Project Phoenix, a JRPG successfully Kickstarted by Area35 in 2013. The game has undergone repeated delays since, and though a 2015 updated indicated a 2018-2019 release window, a lack of recent updates strongly suggests the game is far from finished.

Lacy's public comment, made two months after Lacy departed the company and since deleted, accused Yura of embezzling the Kickstarter funds from Project Phoenix and putting them toward the studio's other project, Tiny Metal.

In response, Yura denied the allegations publicly in a USGamer interview and brought a defamation suit against Lacy. Eurogamer reports that the now-settled suit saw Lacy retract the comment made and at the court's request, make a public apology.

In addition, Lacy will pay ~$3,700 to Area 35 VP Masamichi Eguchi, though Eguchi also owes Lacy 600,000 yen (~$5,400) per a previous contract.

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Rebekah Valentine

Senior Staff Writer

Rebekah arrived at GamesIndustry in 2018 after four years of freelance writing and editing across multiple gaming and tech sites. When she's not recreating video game foods in a real life kitchen, she's happily imagining herself as an Animal Crossing character.