Indie publisher Nicalis, best known for its role with games like Cave Story and Binding of Isaac, is the subject of a new report alleging mistreatment of both outside developers and its own employees. A number of sources have come forward to report exploitation, racism, and other forms of abuse – and much of these allegations are pointed at Nicalis founder and president Tyrone Rodriguez.
“I won’t be moving forward with Nicalis when it comes to the port of The Legend of Bum-bo or any console versions of Mewgenics,” Binding of Isaac creator Edmund McMillen tells Kotaku in response to the allegations. The upcoming Repentance DLC for Isaac “will still be releasing as originally planned, the team poured their heart and soul into this DLC and it’s very close to releasing.”
Some anonymous developers tell Kotaku that there were periods of months where Nicalis would not respond to messages from the developers of a game it was publishing. The Game Bakers offer a similar account of their efforts to work with Nicalis on a Switch port of Furi – the publisher’s reported lack of communication meant the studio lost months of potential sales before looking for alternative paths to publish the game.
Some Nicalis employees have accused Nicalis founder Tyrone Rodriguez of exploitative behaviour. One allegation suggests employees were rebuked for taking time off for doctor visits or the care of sick relatives. Others say Rodriguez would pressure employees to drink heavily, saying “come on, don’t be a little bitch.” Chat logs from within the company suggest Rodriguez made frequent racist, ableist, and homophobic jokes to employees, as well.
“We do not condone abusive workplace environments or discrimination and have people from all walks of life,” Nicalis says in a statement responding to Kotaku’s report. “We hope for the continued success of our internal team and our external developers.”