Dungeon Defenders studio Trendy Entertainment has announced today a rebranding as Chromatic Games following an employee buy-out.
Original co-founder and now-CEO Augi Lye has returned to the studio after repurchasing it from investors, and is joined by long-time Dungeon Defenders developer Colin Fisher as creative director. The team, now wholly independent, wants to refocus the vision of the franchise and return to its indie roots.
GameDaily.biz reports that as a part of the transition, the studio has seen some veterans depart but has also brought on new developers, and now stands at around 30 employees.
"The development team and I worked with him to figure out how we can have a good plan to move forward and start creating Dungeon Defenders games in the way they were meant to be made: for our players," Fisher said in a post to the Dungeon Defenders official forums. "One of the things we wanted to make clear was that Trendy was no longer really Trendy. There's brand-new leadership, a new creative direction, and new energy at the studio that was just waiting to be released. So we decided that we're not really Trendy anymore.
"...We're not answering to external people anymore. We're in control of our own destiny. We were able to keep the majority of the development team around, but we had some people move on to newer pastures. We're so grateful for their years of service. We love and respect all of our previous Trendy family, but now the Chromatic team is focused on the future - and that future is to keep improving DD2 and crafting Dungeon Defenders: Awakened."
As a part of the shift in leadership and branding, the team has opted to continue releasing small quality of life updates to Dungeon Defenders II, but has also launched a Kickstarter to fund a new title, Dungeon Defenders: Awakened. The crowdfunding effort is already over halfway to its $250,000 goal at the time of this post.
With its rebrand, Chromatic Games looks to shed a fraught history. In 2013, a Kotaku investigation revealed that the studio under then-president Jeremy Stieglitz was a crunch-ridden, toxic place. Stieglitz allegedly were forced to work seven-day weeks with 10 to 12-hour days all year round.
The report also revealed sexist hiring practices, such as deliberately paying women less than equally qualified men in the same position, and Stieglitz yelling at women from across the room rather than walking up to them to speak with them.
Stieglitz eventually departed Trendy in 2014 with a one-year non-compete clause, but in 2016 became entangled in a legal battle with his former studio as it was revealed that he had attempted to poach employees for his new studio, Studio Wildcard, just a few days after he left. The lawsuit was eventually settled.