If you boot up your Nintendo Switch and check out Stardew Valley on the eShop, you'll notice that Chucklefish is no longer listed as the game's publisher. Instead, creator Eric Barone (aka ConcernedApe) has taken over publishing rights to the title.
The change comes alongside reports of Chucklefish exploiting contributing workers during the development of Starbound, an action-adventure game first released in 2016. Some who worked on the game's development have taken to social media to share their experiences with Chucklefish, claiming that despite putting "hundreds of hours" of work into the game, no payment was ever received.
Barone has addressed the situation in a blog post (which was shared online just a couple of weeks before the publishing rights switched hands on Nintendo's platform):
I am aware of the news and social media reports that Chucklefish allegedly engaged in unfair and potentially abusive labor practices during development of their game, Starbound. I feel the need to address this situation because the connection between Chucklefish and Stardew Valley, as well as the degree to which Chucklefish was involved in the creation of the game, has been a source of confusion for many people . So I’d like to clarify a couple of things.
Throughout the 4.5 years of development, I was the only person to work on Stardew Valley. Neither Chucklefish nor any contributors working with Chucklefish were involved in creating the game, in any capacity.
For the multiplayer update, which came out on PC 2.5 years after the game first launched, a Chucklefish employee did create the multiplayer net-code, but that was the only case where Chucklefish was directly involved in development of the game.
Beyond that, Chucklefish has served only as publisher, which means that they handled the business and marketing side of things, as well as contracting the localizations, console & mobile ports to 3rd-party companies. Since December of last year, I’ve moved to self-publishing on PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox, and PSVita… Chucklefish is no longer publishing the game on those platforms.
Publishing rights changed hands at the start of this month; on 1st October, Barone shared a message to social media stating that, "starting today I am self-publishing Stardew Valley on the Switch. With this change I'm now self-publishing on all platforms except mobile".
The change of publisher will cause no issues for players who own the game on Switch.
Chucklefish responded to the accusations mentioned above at the end of August, stating that, "community contributors were under no obligation to create content" and that "everyone was credited or remunerated as per their agreement".