Investigation into Trendy Entertainment reports mismanagement, sexism

Dungeon Defenders studio experiencing "unfortunate issues" say execs

An investigation into Trendy Entertainment, the studio which produced Dungeon Defenders and is currently working on a sequel, has highlighted accusations of mismanagement, institutional sexism and a permanent crunch mode which sees employees working 80 hour weeks.

The report, compiled by Jason Schreier at Kotaku, is the result of conversations with several ex and current employees at the studio, many of whom corroborate stories of a threatening, bullying management which allegedly pays women less than men and enforces unsustainable work regimes.

Singled out for particular responsibility is Jeremy Stieglitz, company president and, until very recently, project lead on Dungeon Defenders 2. Since the claims arose, Stieglitz has been taken away from the project, but remains at the company. Stieglitz stands accused of refusing to talk to women directly, instead shouting at them from outside the room, requesting that female characters be more sexualised - including robotic characters which he allegedly suggested should also be "aged under 18 robot years," - and scrapping months of work to change the direction of the game to mimic that of League of Legends.

Stieglitz himself has reportedly refused to respond to requests for explanation by Schreier and Kotaku, but Trendy management has issued a statement which tacitly accepts that the company has endemic issues which must be addressed.

"Trendy is a fairly young indie videogame developer experiencing some of the unfortunate issues associated with new companies finding their footing: long hours, quick growth, and on-going challenges stemming from working in a highly creative environment. Our management is focused on continuing to grow and develop a positive workplace despite these challenges. We are excited for our upcoming release of Dungeon Defenders 2 and hope that consumers appreciate the results of our efforts."

In response to the expose, the IGDA has issued a statement which makes its position on the accusations clear, without making any statement of intent about which course of action, if any, it will take against Trendy.

"Studios engaging in excessive overtime injure the reputation of the entire game industry," the IGDA statement reads, "preventing top talent from entering and remaining in game development, and harming the goodwill of other studios that work rigorously to ensure quality of life for their developers...Further we believe that gender discrimination of any type has no place in the workplace and is completely unacceptable."

More stories

Ready or Not pulled from Steam after adding nightclub shooting level

Shooter temporarily delisted days after new stage was added on the anniversary of Pulse nightclub shooting

By Jeffrey Rousseau

Diablo Immortal gets over $24 million in spending, within 14 days after launch

The US accounted for 43% of the dungeon crawler's earnings as South Korea was second at 26% in player spending

By Jeffrey Rousseau

Latest comments (4)

Tyler Moore Game Designer & Unity Developer 9 years ago
Being a young company is no excuse for poor treatment of your employees. Times are rough as an indie sure, but the fact you're trying to grow quickly in spite of these problems speaks to your real priorities.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee9 years ago
Being a young company is no excuse for poor treatment of your employees.
Exactly, that has nothing to do with treatment of employees. If anything, employee issues shouldn't get lost in a very small, growing company. Very disappointed.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development9 years ago
Shhhshh. "That" crowd will notice this and expand one alledgedly bad firm into "the industry" in zero seconds. Certainly in less time than required for a single thought to manifest.

As for my 2p, if the allegations are true then I hope the relevant employment body throws the book at them, but that won't help the employees either. Never an easy one, this.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 11th June 2013 2:25am

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (4)
Christopher Thigpen Lead Producer, Kiz Studios9 years ago
"Unfortunate Issues" = Mind your own damned business.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.