Update - Fri 20th Dec, 2019 04:00 GMT: Dangen Entertainment's new CEO Dan Stern has published a new statement on the company's website, explaining how Dangen plans to resolve its developer issues and move forward.
Below is Stern's entire statement:
As part of the transition following our statement on restructuring Dangen, I want to provide some clarity regarding open questions about Dangen’s future and how we are moving forward with the developers.
We are finalizing paperwork to complete the company transfer, however already working as the new CEO, it is important to me that we answer the open questions and then move quickly to resolve them.
To that end, I am taking the following steps:
-I have reached out to all developers currently signed with Dangen. All developers will be free to reconsider contracts and decide whether or not they would like to continue forward with Dangen under its new management. Dangen is committed to meeting its developers' needs in every way possible.
-I have also reached out to the developers of Devil Engine and Fight Knight with a clear path toward mutually agreed separation. I hope to resolve these very quickly so all parties can pursue their own goals in the ways they deem best.
-Final payments to the Devil Engine team will be resolved as soon as we have received the invoices.
-In cases where Dangen currently manages store pages for developers with whom we part ways, ownership of those pages will be relinquished to the developers and Dangen’s own access will be removed.
-Branding on Dangen’s own websites will be removed for canceled projects. Dangen will work to make sure the removal process perfectly meets developers' needs.
-Dangen has much improved its withholding tax relief submissions process and we will work in good faith to complete this paperwork in a timely manner. Developers will continue to be paid according to the mutually understood timelines.
-To the developers who are working with us, we are grateful for your trust and we pledge to do our absolute best in publishing your games.
I believe that actions speak louder than words, so I am making this statement now that I am settled in and taking my first steps as CEO. I aim to take these steps quickly and decisively so that Dangen can return with redoubled conviction to fulfilling the commitments it has made to its developer partners.
Dan Stern, CEO
Original Story - Tue 17th Dec, 2019 06:30 GMT: Japan-based indie publisher Dangen Entertainment has made headlines for the past several weeks after the company's CEO Ben Judd was accused of inappropriate behaviour, harassment and bad business practices by an anonymous person (via Medium), who had worked as a liaison between multiple parties and Dangen for many years.
It's now resulted in Judd stepping down from his position, being dismissed as the vice president of the Digital Development Management Agency and departing from the board of BitSummit's organisational committee, JIGA. The interim CEO replacing Judd at Dangen will be Dan Stern.
These allegations made reference to Judd's former partner – a designed named Alex – who referred to the now-former CEO as a "predator" in a series of tweets earlier this year, that "held meetings in strip clubs, exposed himself to people in public, and harassed younger women".
As Judd was in a position of power, the victims involved did not feel they could "speak up" or ask him to stop, without putting their own careers, industry opportunities and connections at risk. GameIndustry.biz also spoke, "directly with 12 sources" who made "various claims" about Judd's poor business conduct and behaviour at work and in social environments.
Judd has since issued a statement on Dangen's website, here's a snippet:
I've caused a great deal of pain to not only Alex, but my friends, co-workers, and business relations and I am deeply sorry for that. In order to take responsibility and give myself time and space to work on this, I will be stepping away from Dangen and Bitsummit and taking leave from my other industry endeavors. For the foreseeable future, I will be focusing on fixing some of the issues that have come to light as well as spending time with my family.
Dangen co-founder Nayan Ramachandran will also no longer be a full-time employee due to his unprofessional conduct and failure to follow through on promises to developers, although he will stay on as a freelancer and be honoured financially.
One of the game's caught up in this story is the bullet-hell shooter Devil Engine by Protoculture Games. Alongside Sorcerobe (the creator of Fight Knight), both studios verified with GamesIndustry.biz that the original Medium account discussing poor communication, business conduct and mishandling of payments was referencing their companies.
Since revealing this, Protoculture Games has issued the following tweet, stating it no longer has access to Devil Engine (published by Dangen Entertainment) on Nintendo Switch or Steam: