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Image courtesy of Limestone Games

Beat 'em up "Aeon Must Die!"'s release on Thursday stirred up controversy around accusations from former employees that the game was created under toxic work conditions and ultimately stolen from its creators.

Driving the news: Former Limestone Games developers, now working under a new studio called Mishura Games, published a lengthy statement calling on Limestone and publisher Focus Entertainment to "complete their legal responsibilities."

  • Mishura has also requested that Focus release its alleged investigation results, as well as proof of pay for some developers' work.
  • "Limestone and Focus, two separate entities, co-own the IP ... no party, legal or natural person could appropriate, steal or exploit the IP by its own will," reads a statement published to the game's Twitter account on Oct. 12 under a FAQ subheaded "Did any party steal the 'Aeon Must Die' IP?"
  • A follow-up statement adds that "all claims remain unsubstantiated despite investigations led by two law firms and one Estonian authority."

Flashback: Last August, a group of former Limestone Games developers came forward with allegations of abuse and manipulation from their employer.

  • "People who have worked on every shot of this are no longer with the company holding IP rights," the developers wrote. "Some were not even paid for their work. The real IP for the game was stolen from the creators via foul play."
  • In September 2021, animator and former "Aeon" dev Arsen Shakhbabyan temporarily pushed the game's trailer off YouTube with a copyright claim. "I was very angry, they had the audacity [or lack of brains] to upload the same trailer to YouTube, without any changes and new fragments, as well as delete comments from any people who write the truth about them," Shakhbabyan told Eurogamer.

Mishura's statement Thursday notes that the trailer includes a "considerable amount of work" from Shakhbabyan, who doesn't have a contract with either "Aeon"'s publisher or developer. "According to relevant laws, the IP regarding Arsen`s work for this trailer still fully belongs to Arsen."

  • "It is imperative for the ecosystem of the game industry to move forward from the dark ages it is clearly stuck in," the statement reads. "The industry already suffers way too much from unfair treatment of artists and developers and true creators of the games. Crunches, toxic atmosphere, unpaid hours, abuse and so on, are unfortunately all over the place."

Go deeper

"Squid Game" meets video games

Image courtesy of Netflix

"Squid Game" is Netflix's biggest series launch ever with more than 111 million views, but the show has taken root beyond the streaming platform in spaces like TikTok and the gaming industry.

Why it matters: The battle royale-style show's influence in video games seems to spread more every week.

Updated 52 mins ago - World

Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" when the gang abducted them in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro. Security forces placed six U.S. oil executives under house arrest later Saturday, per AP.