Workers at Sindiecate, the Spanish indie publisher described as Spain's Devolver Digital, are reporting that their upper management have done dark. Since last December, the management, which includes the founders, have been impossible to contact.
Founders reportedly in PeruIn a story reported by GamesIndustry.biz, around 20 people, working either directly for Sindiecate or for developers Brainwash Gang, have been left high and dry by the founders' egress. At the time, the company was working with Brainwash to make Damnview: Built From Nothing, a gritty simulation game featuring anthropomorphic animals, brutal capitalism, and despair.
Sindiecate was founded back in 2016 by Fernando Ortega and Claudia Ancjima. Their company's first game was the nihilistic action platformer Nongünz, developed by Brainwash, which was headed by their personal friend Edu Verz. It was at this point problems started to appear.
PS4 and Switch ports were planned for Nongünz never arrived, and Verz agreed to receive €60,000 in reparations. Like the ports, the money never arrived, and Verz threatened to take Damnview to a different publisher. Freelance game designer Rosa Carbo-Mascarell, who summarized the company's decline in a Twitter thread, reports that former Sindiecate PR and business dev manager Juan de la Torre described the events as being like "a telenovela."
Ortega and Ancjima contacted a programmer and artist at Brainwash, asking if they needed Verz to complete Damnview. They also made claims that Verz had alcohol and drug problems. In their move to try and get the IP while kicking out Verz, the two Brainwash workers were promised money. The two workers reported the discussion with Verz, who confronted the two founders on what happened. Ancjima apologized and told asked them all to come into work tomorrow on Monday.
Questionable practicesHowever, an email sent out next morning told the employees they had the day off. That day, the employees met at a cafe and talked about their jobs. During their talks, shady practices performed by Sindiecate came to light. Some employees worked for years without official contracts, while others had contracts but weren't declared. Others were illegally-hired freelancers. The next day, another email was sent out, announcing a sudden month-long holiday. However, the employees demanded a meeting, to which the founders agreed. What was to be a professional meeting reportedly devolved into glass-breaking, spitting, and the founders denying all accusations. Finally, Sindiecate agreed to let Verz go with the Damnview IP, but some of the sales would go to paying what the publisher already invested. A meeting was scheduled to finalize the details, but the meeting never happened, and the founders stopped answering calls and emails.
A month later, one more company email was sent out. It claimed everyone had sent in resignation letters (only two had resigned) and asked the employees to come to the company to sign them. Attempts to contact the founders have proven fruitless. Their lawyer told the Spanish publication Teknautas that the two are in Peru. It's calculated that the employees and partners are owed €30,000, including Sunshine Animation Studios, who worked on trailers for all of Sindiecate's games, but only received partial payment for a second Damnview trailer. Two different lawsuits are in progress in an attempt to get money from the founders.
Gamesindustry.biz contacted Ancjima on Monday, who promised an official statement. However, as the employees have come to expect, Ancjima and Ortega have not responded.