Both released statements on Twitter, both stating the same message. The contract between them over Devil Engine is now terminated, with rights reverting back to Protoculture Games.
“Upon extensive review, Protoulture’s own legal counsel has concluded that Dangen’s contracts, payments, and sales reports have been reasonable, fair, and carried out in good faith throughout the publishing partnership.”
Nonetheless, both parties have now settled their disputes, with Protoculture Games stating they appreciate “the effort Dangen made to reach a mutually agreeable result and the good faith it displayed in resolving these matters, and looks forward to moving Devil Engine and Devil Engine Ignition in new directions.”
CORRECTION: We previously stated the individual who made the accusations was a member of Dangen Entertainment. This is not the case; they claimed they later acted as an intermediary between Protoculture Games and Dangen Entertainment, along with another developer.
As previously reported [1, 2], a former “key member” of both Devil Engine and another game Dangen published made several damning claims. These included allegations of unprofessionalism, incompetence, violating copyright and ownership, refusing to pay royalties, and predatory behavior by then CEO Ben Judd.
As aforementioned, Protoculture Games legal counsel has found no issues with contracts, payments, and sales reports.
Among these allegations were how Protoculture Games were treated. This included ignoring requests for assistance in legal matters, no porting support, refusing to upload the game’s soundtrack to Steam in favor of Bandcamp (a process that was also delayed), and promising to have the game featured on Steam’s Golden Week Sale (and never did).
Other allegations include Dangen Entertainment being unavailable in the run-up to Bitsummit, not conveying there had been offers to produce the game physically by third-parties, playing the game’s music publicly without their permission (including YouTube), and (at the time of writing those articles) not receiving any royalties from the game’s OST sales on Bandcamp.
The situation deteriorated so badly that the developer swore and spoke poorly of Dangen Entertainment; so much so they were allegedly asked by Judd to only answer yes or no to inquiries. Judd also allegedly made veiled threats to withhold royalties to punish another developer team they had grown friendly with (and had also shown anger towards Dangen).
Along with allegedly refusing to pay royalties to both developers, Dangen Entertainment allegedly attempted to use a contract that would have given them total control over the IPs of both games. This is what the anonymous employee claims they saw, and later exposed.
When royalties for Devil Engine did come through, roughly $7000 USD were allegedly missing. Dangen Entertainment claimed this was due to Japanese withholding tax (something that should not have applied according to the whisteblower), and allegedly undeclared business expenses such as marketing.
Proof whether this withholding tax was ever paid was allegedly never shown, and Protoculture Games allegedly had no control over their own Steam and Nintendo store pages. Collaborators on the game were also allegedly paid late. Dangen Entertainment would later deny all these claims, and claim that the developers later attacked them on a Discord server.
After the Medium post with the allegations were made public, Protoculture Games and another developer mentioned were kicked from Dangen Entertainment’s Slack chat. Further accusations included claims that Dangen were refusing to properly market Devil Engine, withholding royalties, and stalking the developer on Discord servers to mock and insult them.
Once again we must emphasize Protoculture Games legal counsel has found no issues with contracts, payments, and sales reports.