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Dangen Entertainment Allegedly Robbing Indie Devs? (Update: Medium article with more allegations, Dangen responds)

Oct 25, 2017
7,605
He then said that I had impressed him over the past months, and that he would like to formally offer me a job with Dangen. He claimed they couldn’t afford to hire me full time, so I would continue working as I mostly already was, for the sum of 50,000 yen (roughly $500 USD) per month. By this point, completely unpaid by Dangen and working only for revshare from my development teams, I was fielding all third party offers and negotiating all developer requests for three separate projects. I also assisted with translation, interpretation, communications with musicians and collaborators, coordinating interviews with press, marketing campaign strategy, and copy editing.

I knew Nayan’s salary must be around 300,000 yen (roughly $3000 USD) per month in order to meet the requirements for Japanese residency status. I was being offered one sixth of what Nayan was paid in order to do a majority of Nayan’s job for him.

This would free Nayan up to pursue his more “creative” side, which Ben felt Nayan excelled at more than the “detail-oriented” paperwork he’d been tasked with thus far.
''Creative side'' of playing games and reading comics instead of doing his job, apparently.
 

RvinP

Member
Oct 28, 2017
435
Hey everyone.

I loathe writing messages like this, because it means that something is on fire. I really wish I was writing a post about how awesome I thought X-men #2 was, or how much I’m enjoying Jedi Fallen Order...
is this a personal or a professional response?

because it feels very unprofessional wasting company money on suggesting to write thoughts about personal life.
 

Quad Lasers

Member
Oct 26, 2017
2,384
  • Ben Judd hit on the author multiple times.
  • Ben Judd tried to hire the author with an egregious contract that would have potentially locked down any work she had done, and by proxy the work she had done with Devil Engine/Fight Knight devs, with Dangen.
  • Ben Judd tried to hire the author so that their future company fuck-ups would only be be discussable in-house.
  • Ben Judd wanted to punish the Fight Knight devs because he got Big Mad that the Devil Engine devs were rightfully talking mad shit about Dangen's fuck ups.
  • Dangen failed to initially include the biggest goddamn region from the Devil Engine's devs sales from the royalty payouts that were initially quoted to them(the fuck?)
  • Dangen fucked up tax withholdings and delayed DE devs payment, with Ben Judd's response being "our accountants are lazy lulz"
  • Dangen fucked up tax withholdings and never gave proof of this so the DE devs(and the author) could never get a tax refund on their missing royalties.
  • Because of the above, they also had to incrementally eek out their money from japanese banks to not trigger overseas transfer restrictions
  • Dangen strong-armed Devil Engine's western composers to either sign additional contracts with them or only receive a portion of their payment
  • Author had to pay "DE’s most famous musician collaborator"(Hyakutaro Tsukumo of Thunder Force?) out of pocket because they were pulling that shit with them too

These are the heavy hitters, but there's so much more in that article. Easy to see why thetrin was running defense on this given how much of a clown he comes out looking in this.
 

Quacktion

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,972
Thats A LOT to digest, didnt even expect juicy Fromsoft gossip to also make an appearance in the article.
 

rawhide

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,443
  • Ben Judd hit on the author multiple times.
  • Ben Judd tried to hire the author with an egregious contract that would have potentially locked down any work she had done, and by proxy the work she had done with Devil Engine/Fight Knight devs, with Dangen.
  • Ben Judd tried to hire the author so that their future company fuck-ups would only be be discussable in-house.
  • Ben Judd wanted to punish the Fight Knight devs because he got Big Mad that the Devil Engine devs were rightfully talking mad shit about Dangen's fuck ups.
  • Dangen failed to initially include the biggest goddamn region from the Devil Engine's devs sales from the royalty payouts that were initially quoted to them(the fuck?)
  • Dangen fucked up tax withholdings and delayed DE devs payment, with Ben Judd's response being "our accountants are lazy lulz"
  • Dangen fucked up tax withholdings and never gave proof of this so the DE devs(and the author) could never get a tax refund on their missing royalties.
  • Because of the above, they also had to incrementally eek out their money from japanese banks to not trigger overseas transfer restrictions
  • Dangen strong-armed Devil Engine's western composers to either sign additional contracts with them or only receive a portion of their payment
  • Author had to pay "DE’s most famous musician collaborator"(Hyakutaro Tsukumo of Thunder Force?) out of pocket because they were pulling that shit with them too

These are the heavy hitters, but there's so much more in that article. Easy to see why thetrin was running defense on this given how much of a clown he comes out looking in this.
I think these allegations definitely deserve to be pointed out as well:

  • Dangen pushed their devs to produce game builds and/or marketing materials at the last minute for promotional opportunities that Dangen then didn't bother submitting (or in one instance, for a mysterious Nintendo promotion that they now believe was not genuine)
  • Dangen accepted and/or declined external business opportunities on behalf of developers of certain games without their consultation, including declining at least four separate offers for a physical release of Devil Engine
  • Devil Engine was completely excluded from a big Steam sale because Dangen forgot to include the game and wouldn't lift a finger to correct their mistake
 

Sumio Mondo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,545
United Kingdom
This is all so messed up.

The part about Ben Judd revealing stuff he's privy to and sharing it out like that breaking NDAs is not cool either. Can only imagine how From, Igarasha, 505 Games, Devolver and Activision would feel about that. And how he seemed to feel good about making his own employees sleep in net cafes instead of looking after them and acting all creepy about asking someone out. And obviously just got rebutted but still keeps doing it in such a creepy way? He's in his 30s? Jesus dude.
 

SPRidley

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,065
As someone who has expirienced monetary problems because of shitty game publishers and masters (lost 10000 euros to some piece of shit master/publisher this last year, were pther people are afraid of a formal lawsuti because of repercussions), im sad about reading all this. Ecen worse in this case with the sex allegations.
 

panda-zebra

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,626
Not seen bumblefuck used in that context, but it works and seems an accurate assessment of their collective indifference and incompetence (and the rest...).
 

YaBish

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,277
Read the whole thing. Holy shit that sounds awful.

I really hope the devs get paid what they’re owed.
 

Igniz12

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,302
I feel sorry for people when they get their business aired out like that but man it looks like the whole operation they were running was negligent and malicious and not to mention creepy for what the author had to go through, dealing with Judd.

You'd think after 2 different games they were handling ended up becoming pear shaped over dev relations they would have had some reflection on their part and asked if maybe they were in the wrong but I guess you need to be good at your job in the first place to know you're doing a bad job at present moment.

The whole switch demo build thing was just fucking cruel like, asking the guy to stop work to put out a different platform build over nothing! So fucked up. Why not just ask the dev if maybe they'd want to work on a potential switch release early and shop it around but no. He pulled a "my uncle works at Nintendo" on them.....wow.

Smacks to me of a bunch of guys getting together and living the life off the backs of other people. Can't even press a few buttons to put one of your dev's game on sale that was already on Steam. If you can't even do that much then just let the dev have control of the steam page then.




I was a little confused why he had assumed I was asking to sleep in the Dangen staff hotel room, but by this time I was used to Ben saying odd things like this.
Thinking you're smooth but you fucking clown your own damn self.


I hope this proves cathartic for the author in some small way but fuck those people for what they put her and the other devs through. Maybe Judd should really think about hring her, seems like she is the only one with a fucking clue about how to do their jobs.
 

Dancrane212

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,755
In an article that covers so much mistreatment and inappropriate behavior it was at least nice to read of the devs trying to look out for each other.

FK dev wanted to terminate his agreement with Dangen in May, but considering Ben Judd’s threats towards the DE team, FK dev decided to wait until DE had received at least some of their royalties. When I confirmed the DE team had received some payment, FK dev notified Dangen that he had terminated his agreement with them on July 24th, 2019.
 

Dali

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,038
I don't know about the entirety of the story but the receipts are in the medium article for thetrin being completely inept at doing something that would have been a quick and simple task by including the game in the steam sale. His shrugging his mistake off as minor and offering to include it in a spring sale even longer after release whilst simultaneously telling the client to basically kick rocks until the was off vacation was just a slap in the face. He didn't seem very apologetic at all.
 

Adulfzen

Member
Oct 29, 2017
509
oh boy and they're publishing that beat'em up (The Takeover) from the dev who got screwed over by Nicalis with their previous game 90s Arcade Racer.

I'm glad more and more indie publishers are getting called out in this fashion, it's already hard enough to make a game but to get fucked over by people supposed to help you is even worse

Edit : seems like they're only publishing the Switch version which is not even out yet ?
 

Hrodulf

Member
Oct 25, 2017
241
Oh, for fuck's sake. Ben Judd always came across as an asshole, so none of that is particularly surprising (though it still makes my skin crawl reading that "from what I've heard" email), but the rest of it is extremely sad and disappointing. I never paid much attention to them before, but I was looking forward to their release of Vestaria Saga, which looks like it'll be missing its "2019" release date, so I'm going to say Sinoc's claims look pretty legitimate. Plus, you know, there's not much point in them acting out like this and suggesting people pirate their game if none of it is true.
 

Velezcora

Member
Nov 16, 2017
2,626
Part of me wonders why the industry has gone to shit with so many asshats working it. The other part of me then realises these asshats were always there, we're just finally talking about it.
So thanks to everyone for coming out to illuminate these asshats.
 

Praglik

Member
Nov 3, 2017
50
Part of me wonders why the industry has gone to shit with so many asshats working it. The other part of me then realises these asshats were always there, we're just finally talking about it.
So thanks to everyone for coming out to illuminate these asshats.
There's also way more people in the industry now than say, 10 years ago, so naturally more asshats are working in it.
 

Mechaplum

Member
Oct 26, 2017
6,215
Oh boy that was a trip. Amazingly unprofessional this crew. Seems like a side hobby rather than actual service.
 

JCal

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,896
Los Alfheim
Insane read. Absolutely insane. And that DANGEN poster coming in here to say he'd rather play games, read comics... or be out on the fields blowing bubbles is just perfect. Wow! Fucking assholes the lot of them.
 

FuzzyWuzzy

Member
Apr 7, 2019
186
The article certainly seems to come with the receipts. Kinda bad look of thetrin to post something rather eagerly in this thread until the medium post goes up :(
 

Mobyduck

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,492
Brazil
Some damning accusations in that medium post. A shame to see another publisher taking advantage of struggling indie developers.
 

RexNovis

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,508
Alright so I’m going to be frank here: this forum supposedly prides itself on supporting people in vulnerable positions especially this facing mental issues and battles with depression or anxiety. Seems to me y’all should be paying closer attention to the behavior of all parties involved.

like it or not business is messy. There will always be issues and disagreements. Especially when you are such a small business and you’re still trying to grow and establish your place. No matter what issues there are that should never give free license to hateful personal attacks like some of the stuff shown in this article and this Sinoc guy comes across as a total asshole

some of the things in this article that are pointed to as an indictment of the Dangen team arejust petty. Highlighting how many views their streams and YouTube efforts have or attacking them for doing these sorts of things as effort to build up their brand is ridiculous.These things are common. Just look at all the stuff Double Fine did in regards to streams and videos when they started getting into the role of publishing games. They are trying to get their name out there and establish themselves so of course they’re gonna try to put themselves out there as much as possible.

Furthermore highlighting that someone plays games regularly as some sort of indictment of their character is dumb. We are on a games forum for Christ’s sake. Just because someone is playing games regularly doesn’t mean that their games or interests in other hobbies is interfering with their work. This is just shaming people for enjoying the things they want to and since when is that acceptable here? Because someone makes mistakes at their job they’re not allowed to enjoy playing games or reading comics? Stop it with that nonsense.

I have no idea who Ben Judd is but Nayan is a good dude and if he says he’s felt personally attacked then there’s reason for that. The developer’s quotes in that article come across as incredibly hostile, belligerent and hurtful and if that’s what they are sharing to make their side of the sorry come across well I can only imagine the sort of things that haven’t been shown here. So seems to me he had very good reason to feel that way.

Making business related errors and mistakes shouldn’t entitle people to be subject to vitriol like that. It’s unprofessional and its hurtful.

Given the way Nayan is characterized in this article it comes across to me like he was battling some personal demons and trying to deal with a whole new branch of business for their company. Y’all have no idea who he is or what he’s been dealing with and to cheer on folks spouting such hateful and hurtful things is INCREDIBLY disappointing to see.

Did Dangen get in over their head by taking on these deals? Yes it seems like they did and it seems like it’s something they should probably avoid in the future (if there even is one after this) until they have the experience and staffing to handle all the intracacies of them but that doesn’t suddenly mean it’s ok to rubber stamp abusive rhetoric. That sort of thing is not ok coming from anyone no matter what side of the situation they are on.Even the comments meant to show that the developer wasn’t hateful all the time are actually extremely hateful and derisive.

I’m really disappointed with how nonchalant so many here are with the sorts of communication shown in that article. I’m not excusing the mistakes made here in behalf of Dangen but I am saying that y’alls thirst for drama and condemnation is preventing you from seeing the humanity behind all of this. Whatever happens here I just hope Nayan’s ok.
 

SMD

Member
Oct 28, 2017
4,493
Alright so I’m going to be frank here: this forum supposedly prides itself on supporting people in vulnerable positions especially this facing mental issues and battles with depression or anxiety. Seems to me y’all should be paying closer attention to the behavior of all parties involved.

like it or not business is messy. There will always be issues and disagreements. Especially when you are such a small business and you’re still trying to grow and establish your place. No matter what issues there are that should never give free license to hateful personal attacks like some of the stuff shown in this article and this Sinoc guy comes across as a total asshole

some of the things in this article that are pointed to as an indictment of the Dangen team arejust petty. Highlighting how many views their streams and YouTube efforts have or attacking them for doing these sorts of things as effort to build up their brand is ridiculous.These things are common. Just look at all the stuff Double Fine did in regards to streams and videos when they started getting into the role of publishing games. They are trying to get their name out there and establish themselves so of course they’re gonna try to put themselves out there as much as possible.

Furthermore highlighting that someone plays games regularly as some sort of indictment of their character is dumb. We are on a games forum for Christ’s sake. Just because someone is playing games regularly doesn’t mean that their games or interests in other hobbies is interfering with their work. This is just shaming people for enjoying the things they want to and since when is that acceptable here? Because someone makes mistakes at their job they’re not allowed to enjoy playing games or reading comics? Stop it with that nonsense.

I have no idea who Ben Judd is but Nayan is a good dude and if he says he’s felt personally attacked then there’s reason for that. The developer’s quotes in that article come across as incredibly hostile, belligerent and hurtful and if that’s what they are sharing to make their side of the sorry come across well I can only imagine the sort of things that haven’t been shown here. So seems to me he had very good reason to feel that way.

Making business related errors and mistakes shouldn’t entitle people to be subject to vitriol like that. It’s unprofessional and its hurtful.

Given the way Nayan is characterized in this article it comes across to me like he was battling some personal demons and trying to deal with a whole new branch of business for their company. Y’all have no idea who he is or what he’s been dealing with and to cheer on folks spouting such hateful and hurtful things is INCREDIBLY disappointing to see.

Did Dangen get in over their head by taking on these deals? Yes it seems like they did and it seems like it’s something they should probably avoid in the future (if there even is one after this) until they have the experience and staffing to handle all the intracacies of them but that doesn’t suddenly mean it’s ok to rubber stamp abusive rhetoric. That sort of thing is not ok coming from anyone no matter what side of the situation they are on.Even the comments meant to show that the developer wasn’t hateful all the time are actually extremely hateful and derisive.

I’m really disappointed with how nonchalant so many here are with the sorts of communication shown in that article. I’m not excusing the mistakes made here in behalf of Dangen but I am saying that y’alls thirst for drama and condemnation is preventing you from seeing the humanity behind all of this. Whatever happens here I just hope Nayan’s ok.
They pointed out the stream views because they were doing the streams instead of supporting the devs.
 

RexNovis

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,508
They pointed out the stream views because they were doing the streams instead of supporting the devs.
The implication here is they should be spending all their time doing work for the devs and not trying to build their brand. Them having scheduled streams has absolutely nothing to do with the communications (or lack thereof) with the development staff. Highlighting the views and all that is just a petty thing to do to diminish their efforts to get their name out there and make them look bad.
 

Annubis

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,252
The implication here is they should be spending all their time doing work for the devs and not trying to build their brand. Them having scheduled streams has absolutely nothing to do with the communications (or lack thereof) with the development staff. Highlighting the views and all that is just a petty thing to do to diminish their efforts to get their name out there and make them look bad.
I think it's clear you're one of those 100 or so views.
 

Sumio Mondo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,545
United Kingdom
That bit about Judd apparently lying tucking his kid into bed and in actuality partying with the guy who the devs are upset with, despite the financial woes of their indie devs is something else. There's not caring (negligence in itself is something I've experienced myself with employers in the past, especially with payments owed) and then there's that. I'd be super pissed.
 

RexNovis

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,508
I think it's clear you're one of those 100 or so views.
The fuck is this? No I’m not. The only thing I watch streaming or YouTube is Easy Allies. I’m just someone who knows one of the people involved and someone who has some idea of how business operates. Get out of here with this dismissive crap
 

gogosox82

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,578
Just finished reading that medium article. Good lord. Dangen is completely incompetent. How multiple people have not been fired from that company is astonishing.
 
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Yasumi

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,165
The fuck is this? No I’m not. The only thing I watch streaming or YouTube is Easy Allies. I’m just someone who knows one of the people involved and someone who has some idea of how business operates. Get out of here with this dismissive crap
So businesses operate by ghosting developers, failing to *ever* pay some of them, utilizing their work without consent, attempting to contract somebody into handing over all rights to their past and future works, consistently lying about timelines, and prioritizing their own little celebrity bubble over actually doing their fucking job as a publisher? Nah.
 

SMD

Member
Oct 28, 2017
4,493
The implication here is they should be spending all their time doing work for the devs and not trying to build their brand. Them having scheduled streams has absolutely nothing to do with the communications (or lack thereof) with the development staff. Highlighting the views and all that is just a petty thing to do to diminish their efforts to get their name out there and make them look bad.
Medium article said:
As an aside, Dangen staff almost always had some excuse about why they couldn’t answer in a reasonable timeframe. They often blamed timezone differences, claimed they were out of office, or on some sort of company holiday. If developers had a question on Wednesday night, it often went unanswered until the next Tuesday, if it was ever answered at all.

Meanwhile, many of us had Nayan added on Discord/PS4 and could see him playing Destiny or other AAA games while ignoring our requests.

Golden Week 2019 was famously one of the longest Golden Weeks ever due to the changing of emperors. Dangen staff of course took almost half a month off and completely ignored any requests during the first half of May. This meant that Dangen staff were completely unavailable in the month leading into Bitsummit, one of their biggest promotional events in Japan.

However, before leaving for half a month on Golden Week vacation, Dangen made sure to travel around Osaka filming themselves drinking in bars and talking about videogames to celebrate their anniversary! This stream was populated by roughly twenty (20) viewers, a majority of whom were Dangen developers. It currently has 115 views on Youtube.
 

rawhide

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,443
People are sympathetic to the dev's assholish comments where they might otherwise not be because they're used to stories of developers being unilaterally trampled by exploitative or incompetent publishers, so it's cathartic to see a dev--hell, not even just a dev, anyone who's stuck answering to somebody in a position of authority they haven't really earned--not taking any nonsense.

I know of Nayan by his posts here, on the old board and elsewhere and I have no problem believing he's a nice guy and probably not a manipulative or spiteful business partner, but if even half the shit leveled at him in that post is true then I'm not at all surprised people lost patience with him.

Remember, these developers ceded a ton of control and a 40% cut to Dangen, and for what? So Dangen could withhold all their money, not deliver on marketing opportunities and blow off lucrative business opportunities on their behalf?