ARK: Survival Evolved Encounters Legal Troubles

Dino survival game ARK: Survival Evolved [official site] has been a huge success for developers Studio Wildcard but clouds are gathering and those clouds look an awful lot like lawyers. Issues surrounding the game’s origins and the soliciting of staff from Dungeon Defenders creators Trendy Entertainment will be heard in court next month, report Kotaku. If the outcome of that hearing grants the injunction sought by Trendy, development of ARK could be suspended and there’s even a possibility that the game could eventually be removed from sale. Trendy’s former creative director Jeremy Stieglitz is at the heart of the complaints.

Stieglitz left Trendy in August 2014 following a breakdown in relations. That story is covered in Kotaku’s article. Today’s news relates to Stieglitz’s activities after leaving Trendy.

His former studio alleges that Stieglitz approached Trendy employees in an attempt to poach them for his next venture. This went against the conduct agreed in an apparent non-interference agreement that he had signed. Furthermore, Trendy allege that Stieglitz had agreed not to engage in “competitive activities” for a period of time after leaving the company, which has led to claims that through the development and sale of ARK, he has interfered with both their staff and their potential audience.

None of this would matter if Sieglitz hadn’t been instrumental in the design and production of ARK and that’s what Studio Wildcard claim. Although he will apparently be joining the company in the near future, Sieglitz’s role to date has been as a consultant rather than an official employee or designer, according to Wildcard.

The actual employee files of Wildcard muddy the waters somewhat. Sieglitz’s wife is a co-founder of the ARK studio and Trendy’s lawsuit filing lists six people now working at Wildcard who left Trendy within the last two years. Kotaku claim there are more than six former Trendy employees at Wildcard, but the others are not included in the filing.

Wildcard are yet to respond but their lawyers have released a statement:

Trendy’s Complaint reads more like a salacious tabloid story than a short and plain statement of the ultimate facts allegedly showing Trendy’s entitlement to relief, as required by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. Many of the allegations are disparaging and included simply to be provocative. They are irrelevant, immaterial, impertinent, and scandalous. As such, these allegations should be stricken.

We’ll keep an eye on the story as it develops.

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  1. Cinek says:

    And that’s why we can’t have nice things :(

    • GoryNevada says:

      Alright lets look at it like this who in the world would play Dungeon Defenders 2 if ark had never come exist? As I think we all know the answer very few would play the game and stick to it. I myself have bought Dungeon Defenders 2 I was not impressed played for a few hours and decided the game was unworthy. Trust me ark is not taking any players from you that game honestly needs more content and the gameplay is outright just boring. Thanks for reading if you did good luck at court :(.

      • kazul890 says:

        I played DD2 before ARK. I have been very interested and so have many others. I also happen to enjoy DD2 as I am a fan of DD when it first came out. HOWEVER after reading about this lawsuit they (trendy) 100% lost my business forever. These games are apples and oranges that play completely different and I do not see them as being “competitive” taking the market from DD2. It’s almost as if someone made a Hello Kitty game and claimed that World of Warcraft was taking their business. I can understand the fact that ARK had poach’d people but the people that were poached had to want to voluntarily leave.

  2. iucounu says:

    Excellent Jackie Chiles-ing from the Wildcard lawyers there. “It’s outrageous, egregious… preposterous.”

  3. Jalan says:

    Thought this would entail Trendy being upset that Wildcard didn’t dump gallons of DLC into it so they could share in the profits.

    The reality is much more interesting, but slightly less amusing overall.

  4. trog69 says:

    Slightly disappointing. I’ve been keeping this game on my radar in hopes of hearing more about single-player gameplay.

    • try2bcool69 says:

      You have been able to play it single player since the first patch after initial release…what else, exactly, have you been waiting to hear about it?

    • Premium User Badge

      keefybabe says:

      I play single player. I really like it. Kind of like Robinson Crusoe with Dinosaurs.

    • badmothergamer says:

      330+ hours played. All single-player. Still playing each week to see what they add. Amazing game.

    • aircool says:

      I only play single player as well.

    • Cinek says:

      Same here. Single-only. It’s really fun. Though some caves are super-difficult if not to say impossible in Solo, given that AI generally sux in navigating these narrow tunnels (hint: just don’t take your dinos there), enemies on the other hand do spawn in a high numbers…

  5. Captain Joyless says:

    It’s not true that Wildcard has yet to respond.

    Wildcard had filed a motion to dismiss, which is a legal response to the allegations. That “statement” comes from Wildcard’s motion to dismiss. Kotaku didn’t write anything else about what the motion to dismiss said, but I’m guessing that it wasn’t the end of it.

    • maximus says:

      that is not a response from the devs though. i would imagine they are just choosing the words of their statement carefully.

      • Captain Joyless says:

        Yes, it is.

        • maximus says:


          they may be ‘making a statement’ by getting the legal team involved (the statement been this case is silly and we will debunk it) but the devs themselves have not made an official statement themselves. there is a difference. they have not publicly addressed well…the public. if you look on their website or steam forums there is no statement from the devs.

          • Aerothorn says:

            But that’s how legal representation works. You’re not SUPPOSED to speak to the public in place of the lawyers. Doing so compromises the lawyers’ ability to do their jobs.

          • Captain Joyless says:

            As @Aerothorn correctly explained, the entire point of legal representation is that attorneys speak for their clients.

  6. Wicked Fox says:

    Looks like ARK is about to go extinct.

    I knew this game would never be optimized. :(

    • machstem says:

      I bet you were excited to write that pun. Weren’t you? You were!

      I commend it.

  7. bramble says:

    Non-compete agreements are the worst, and it’s no coincidence they are illegal in California, home to the world’s largest and most valuable technology industry. If you want to keep your employees, consider compensating them competitively, offering a positive work environment, and having interesting work to do instead of forcing some new hire to sign a slave contract that prevents him from working in the field he has experience and education in for 2 years. That doesn’t benefit the worker or society, purely the company.

    Hopefully the facts of this case let Wildcard walk away from this without too many bruises.

    • Ovno says:

      Couldn’t agree more these sorts of contracts are the bane of software developers lives, along with the invention clause where original thought is owned by your employer even if its entirely unrelated to your field.

      And of course this shit is always great for the players too!!!

      IMO boycott trendy till they grow up…

      • maximus says:

        they have some pretty good backing from EPIC, maybe those guys can help out. although i have no idea how EPIC would get envolved from a legal stand point. but still…means they have some back up maybe.

      • maximus says:

        and completely agree on the boycott.

      • Ofanite says:

        But hey, silver lining: the more of these gross things that get struck down in court, the less likely the practice is to continue. Until it’s conclusively proven not to work, there will always be people who fail to compete with their product and decide to compete with their lawyers instead.

      • Sangrael says:

        Just another in a long list of reasons why Trendy should be boycotted anyways. The fiasco with DDE and their flip flopping on which version they were going to support, only to ultimately support neither, is what finally got to me. Especially with DDE being their “definitive” version of DD after I had spent close to $100 on DLC for DD1. I refuse to touch anything they make, their actions here aren’t overly surprising given their past interactions with the playerbase.

        • Ashabel says:

          Pretty much everyone involved with Dungeon Defenders’ development on any level commented at one point or another that Jeremy Stieglitz was the primary thorn in the game’s side, mostly because of his bizarre obsession with copying League of Legends, habitually poor treatment of other team members and complete refusal to listen to anyone else on the team even when his direction for the game made no sense.

          You’re basically saying “So yeah, let’s boycott the company in order to support the guy who was responsible for all the things I dislike about said company before leaving it.”

          • HotSoapyBeard says:

            Yeah, no wonder Trendy are pissed off. Stieglitz managed to ruin their reputation as a company then conveniently slink off and violate his contract. Even if non-compete clauses are a bit shitty, poaching employees is still not okay. It will be interesting to see how the suit continues.

          • socrate says:

            Love how you make 2 exact post trying to discredit someone and go on a crusade against is reputation…sooo…basically he is such a horrible person that people go work for him leaving their stable job?….well that make total sense…and he ruined DD?….no not really the lack of support,fix and balance and the mentality of making only 10% of the gamer in that game be able to attain end game is what killed it not to mention the gazillion DLC which blocked off quite important content to progress through the grind fest…not to mention their new game DD2 who is an actually worst version of DD1 in every single way and filled with microtransaction…you are defending people that come from the mobile/ios mindset and wont let go.

            Oh and a dev is a anti social,egocentric,misogynistic(which is really relative in a world filled with the feminist and dumb female power mentality that absolutly do not have anything to do with woman having the same right as man to begin with but instead to give woman power that man dont even have) prick!!what a surprise! i guess you didn’t meet much real game dev in your life…guess what all of the new one seem to be like that and alots of the old one were like that.

            im so tired of feminist or their submissive male partisan,at this point they tend to hate man so badly and saying anything against them make you some kind of hateful male or some silly thing like that…mix that with politically correct that british and the english culture adopted that is now extremely widespread and you end up with a broken society where people end up not fitting in and end up just becoming anti social because they are afraid of being attacked if they do anything or say anything that might affect someone.

            Lets also not forget kotaku tendency in horrible journalism and seeming to prey on politicly correct and scandal news sometime if not always,offering extremely dubious and one sided news and lets not forget often misleading(which happen on most gaming news site quite frankly or overall news) and if it was only that but they are also bought under the table by alots of people which as been shown and known..not to also forget their ignorance on alots of subject they report on,not to mention extremely hard or impossible to verify most of the time.

            oh and lets not forget they are part of Gawker media with tax haven and all.

    • Captain Joyless says:

      Actually, even in California, a “no raiding” provision can be enforceable. So while the non-compete itself might be unenforceable, Wildcard could still be liable for poaching employees.

  8. cyrenic says:

    I’d guess this game has too much money making potential to be killed off. Are cases like these ever resolved with taking a cut of revenue?

    This will undoubtedly affect development. Updates have been a little slower lately and this might be one of the reasons.

  9. Daedazkree says:

    I wonder if they realize that whoever takes down ARK will lose any ounce of money Friends Popularity and anything ARK is to good to go down thank goodness and wildcard you have all of us behind you and not to many people behind them

    • mwoody says:


      • Skrallex says:

        Didn’t you hear the man? Whoever takes down ARK will lose all their friends. Poor them :(

    • rat152 says:

      Anyone stops ARK or is responsible for ruining it. I pledge receives boycott from me! I invite everyone to do the same.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Cross says:

    I remember reading stories about what an utter shitstain Stieglitz was while working at Trendy. That he’d get up to no good after leaving is absolutely not a surprise to me. I’m rooting for Trendy on this one.

    • Pockets says:

      I dunno too much about Florida’s legal system, but in most places a non-compete that broad wouldn’t stand up at all. Even dickheads can be right sometimes.

  11. cornish jackal says:

    ok first of what game is it they are saying he has made that is takig there costomers if its this dungon and dragens thing well there nothing alike so compleatly different types of games what they guy to do so im a games maker for a living but i am not alloed to make any games because my ex emplyer dont like it even tho im making a compleatly different game, secondly taking staff omg hes taking my candy i want to sue him treat your staff right and they wont look else were, now if i missunderstood whats going on here i retract what i have said but i dont think i have, now ark is a bit of a bad game in my book or at least needs a lot of work but i think that they are kicking off over something that dont exsist get a better case to take to court my friend or you will be laffed out, that said with the way things are in the law and stuff t if dont go arks way i expect a refund.

  12. Ashabel says:

    No real opinion on the lawsuit itself, but this article made me happy I never bought ARK despite being interested in it for a while. Jeremy Stieglitz is one of those rare people whose achievements in the field of being a misogynist shitbird made me not want to support any of his ventures regardless of how good they look. I would never touch it if I knew he was involved.

  13. cutterjohn says:

    *wah* we made a crappy game that noone wants to play. (I REALLY DO NOT get how ARK is competing for Dungeon Defenders players… I own the original but didn’t play it much as I’m not really a big fan of tower defense.)

    As to poaching WTF cares? If you don’t want to lose your employees pay them more or come to whatever accomodations keeps them there. Further, I can’t really believe that they got them to sign non-competes which are unenforceable in many states anyways, e.g. California. I for one strike out anything related to non-compete or IP, well I’ll let some slide if it’s purely specified to be in the 40h of my time that they’re purchasing per week however anything I do away from work is mine related or not. I walk away if they don’t agree. It’s pretty simple as I’ve been fortunate enough to never have been that desperate. Just like I walk away when companies try to pressure you into signing their contract w/o allowing time to read them which strikes me right off the bat as shady -> company cannot be trusted period.


  14. cutterjohn says:

    One more thing after looking over the kotaku article, I have to wonder exactly who would leave trendy for wildcard if this guy was such an asshat? What they allege and what they describe just doesn’t mesh with reality.

    ARK: Only play SP myself as well, BUT I don’t play it a great deal as there are relatively huge updates seemingly at least once a week IF not MORE often. So in a game like that I generally feeling relatively large updates require a restart, and let’s face it in survival games the starting position gets to be tedious after so many times as the starts are generally VERY limited -> repetitive as there just aren’t many options. In a procedural system at least it’s not quite as bad as you can at least dump in a new seed and get a new world to explore even if all the other starting mechanics are still identical. THIS is also why I generally don’t replay unmoddable RPGs especially ones, e.g. Bioware games where their dialog tree all end up funneling to the same result. I tested this with Baldur’s Gate, and NWN you end up at the same dialog terminus with PERHAPS slightly different rewards IF any -> nope been there done that. New character clas, yeah whatever, most of these games have a party and generally in my first playthrough I’d already had classes that I was interested in and/or found useful in that game’s gameplay… so big whoop if it’s the main I can play dressup with it more… pass.