Developer Cloud Imperium Games has said it may take The Escapist to court over an article published last week in which it was accused of embezzlement.
The piece said that only $8m of the game's $90m crowdfunding kitty remains, primarily due to wasteful spending, much of which was put behind ideas that have since been scrapped. It also states that downsizing is now rife across the studio.
The Escapist added that RIS had failed to offer a requested response in line with the deadline, although shortly after its publication boss Chris Roberts published the email he claimed had been sent. In it he dismisses the downsizing claims, stating that CIG is in the process of increasing its headcount. And while he refuses the talk numbers, he also argued that a healthy cash reserve” remains in place, as does a sound business infrastructure.
Also contested was The Escapist's claim that backer funding was being used to sell CIG's own crowdfunding platform to third party partner Turbulent. Roberts says that in fact the opposite is true, and that CIG has from the start used Turbulent tech.
No crowdfunding monies are used for any private purposes – these allegations are completely false and defamatory,” added Roberts. This is pure innuendo for nefarious purposes and I guarantee that anyone making this claim will be unable to show any proof of it as it simply hasn't happened.”
CIG has since, subsequent to an Escapist podcast that failed to mention CIG's response to the accusations, gone on to publish a five-page letter further contesting the article and accusing the publication of violating the most basic rules of and ethics in journalism”.
The Escapist, however, has defended its own position, insisting that the article drew information from seven ex-employees and two current employees, all of whom had direct email and Skype contact with the author. Also provided is a detailed timetable of contact and the claim that Roberts' response email was accidentally sorted into the managing editor's email spam folder.
The site also refuted claims that it had sourced much of its information from employment website Glassdoor, stating that the comments on the site that mirror the quotes used in its own investigation were posted by the same sources after they were given to the site.
Crucially The Escapist also denies that any of its sources were Derek Smart, who himself is very publicly embroiled in an ongoing dispute with CIG. The studio's attorney repeatedly claims that Smart is the instigator of the entire affair and the driving force behind The Escapist's reporting.
What happens from here remains to be seen. The Escapist is standing by its story, CIG is demanding an apology for what it strongly believes is a dereliction of journalistic duty. It has given the site a deadline of the end of the day today (October 5th) to retract the article, publish an apology and sanction an independent investigation into its creation.