The makers of Dying Light 2 have publicly cut ties with writer Chris Avellone following allegations from several women of sexual harrassment, sexual assault, and abusing his industry prestige as a sexual predator. Avellone is known for writing on games including Planescape: Torment and Fallout: New Vegas. Several other upcoming games he was known to have written for, including Bloodlines 2, have clarified they were not currently working with him anyway.
Over the weekend on Twitter, several women gave accounts of their experiences with Avellone and how they have seen him treat other women. Avellone offered vague public apologies to some via Twitter over the weekend. Honestly it’s gutting to keep reading accounts like this in the games industry, so if you want specific details I’ll point you to the report on Kotaku, who spoke with two of the women.
In the wake of the accusations, several studios clarified their current working relationships with Avellone. Polish developer Techland, who were working with Avellone on Dying Light 2, released a statement to announce the end of that relationship.
“We treat matters of sexual harassment and disrespect with utmost care, and have no tolerance for such behaviours – it applies to both our employees as well as external consultants, Chris among them,” Techland said. “This is why, together with Chris Avellone, we’ve decided to end our cooperation.”
Which suggests it’s a mutual agreement. Avellone has been writing as a contractor on many games since leaving Obsidian Entertainment in 2015, with his involvement often a stretch goal on RPG crowdfunding campaigns. His name is a big draw, given the games he’s worked on: Planescape, Fallout 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Prey, Into The Breach, Alpha Protocol, and more.
Owlcat Games, who have worked with Avellone on Pathfinder: Kingmaker and its upcoming sequel, told us in a statement they are “shocked by the allegations”. They explained, “Chris has contributed a lot to the RPG genre in his career, including our first game Pathfinder: Kingmaker, and his reputation never allowed us to expect any of this ever to happen.” Owlcat say they “do not condone sexual misconduct in any form”, but “At the same time, we don’t uphold taking rushed actions based on allegations, and we will continue monitoring the situation closely to make an informed decision.”
Bloodlines 2 publishers Paradox told Gamasutra that Avellone had “briefly worked” with the writing team “early in development” but not in a while, and his work is no longer in the game anyway. “Through an iterative creative process, however, none of his contributions remain in the game that Hardsuit Labs is continuing to develop.” So they’re saying his parts already naturally got shuffled out over the course of development, not that they’ve now decided to remove them.
Similarly, he was also once working on the System Shock remake but Night Dive Studios CEO Stephen Kick said on Twitter, “Chris hasn’t been involved in our development since 2017, and we went a different direction with the writing after we restarted the project in 2018.”
Gato Studios, makers of The Waylanders, explain that Avellone “was brought on as a design contractor” but he “is no longer associated with” them or their game. “As of last week, Chris’s contract is complete and the content provided will be assessed as development progresses,” Gato said in their statement. The game’s lead writer noted that he only wrote “a few quests”, which she was now “gonna take an extra look at.”
Avellone was also known to be writing for Alaloth: Champions Of The Four Kingdoms, whose makers have not publicly commented on the allegations. We’ve contacted them for comment.
The weekend also saw many, many, many accusations of sexual harrassment, abuse of power, and worse against dozens of gaming streamers, YouTubers, and esports commentators. The CEO of a streamer talent agency, Omeed Dariani, stood down following an accusation against him – which had caused a number of clients to quit.
Disclosure: Cara Ellison, a former RPS columnist and my former flatmate, works on Bloodlines 2.