Starbound: Chucklefish responds to accusations made by unpaid volunteer developers


In the long course of development undertaken by Chucklefish to shape the ambitious Starbound sci-fi sandbox, the British company has made use of the support of several enthusiasts who report not having received any compensation from the company.

From the pages of the respective social profiles, three former members of Chucklefish wanted to express their disappointment at the lack of remuneration received during the period of collaboration with the independent British software house. The writer Dam Reece, for example, explains that he “worked hundreds of hours for free while the company earned incredible amounts of money thanks also to my work and about a dozen other unpaid authors. I started my career in the world of video games working on Starbound for almost two years when I was only sixteen. In the end, only a couple of us were hired by the company. […] I spent a lot of time thinking that if I talked about this experience I would ruin my career”.

Also supporting the testimony of Reece are the statements by the concept artist Christine Crossley and the composer Clark Powell, also recalling their experience with Chucklefish. The media fuss raised by these accusations has thus prompted the leaders of the British development and production company to respond with an official press release that begins by stating that “we are aware and saddened by the current accusations against Chucklefish regarding the initial development of Starbound”.

“During this time, both the central Chucklefish developer team and the community collaborators collaborated through a chat room, and the latter dedicated their time to the project free of charge,” they also try to clarify the leadership of the British software house before adding that “the contributors of the community had no contractual obligation in the creation of content, as well as in respect of the working deadlines or in the commitment for a certain number of hours. Each was accredited or paid according to the agreements signed with the individual authors”.

Since the launch of Starbound to today, Chucklefish has become one of the most famous and established development houses in the independent videogame scene thanks to projects such as Wargroove and the commitment made in the production and distribution of blockbuster indies of the caliber of Stardew Valley or Risk of Rain.