Indie Publisher Nicalis Accused of Ghosting Developers, Withholding Patches

Published: September 12, 2019 2:40 PM /



Nicalis, an indie publisher who has handled console ports for games like The Binding of Isaac and Cave Story, have been accused of "ghosting" indie developers, withholding patches from being published, and several other issues in a lengthy exposé.

Nicalis Reportedly 'Ghosted' Indie Developers

Kotaku's Jason Schreier released a lengthy exposé which details the behind-the-scenes situation at Nicalis. One of the complaints from anonymous and public sources that repeatedly pops up is that Nicalis "ghosted" developers. If you're not hip with the lingo the kids are using these days, "ghosting" is essentially ignoring people entirely.

These weren't all indie devs, mind. Devolver Digital — a company known in its own right for elevating quirky indie games to stardom — had had a conversation with Nicalis about working on the PlayStation 4 port for Enter The Gungeon, but the deal fell apart after Devolver was unable to contact Nicalis after that initial meeting.

If true, this is certainly a bad look, although one former employee feels that this may be less about malice and more about incompetence.

"Nicalis have a history of taking on more development projects than they have time for," the unnamed ex-employee said.

Flat-out ignoring business partners and potential business partners as Nicalis is alleged to have done is bad enough, but one person in particular has a completely separate issue.

Complaints About Missing Patches

Game reviewer Indie Gamer Chick took to Twitter to state that Nicalis has had their hands on a patch for Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San for "a while" but they have not yet gotten it published to the appropriate platforms. This tweet led Nicalis' President Tyrone Rodriguez to respond to the public complaint. One of the developers of the game confirmed it was done and they've been trying to get it out on Switch, like it is on PC but have run into issues with Nicalis

"Unfortunately, the game did not yet make back what we put into it," Mr. Rodriguez said on Twitter. "We have a policy of stringent QA testing before pushing releases, and we do not have the space in our budget to QA test the patch so we can push it out."

Abusive Comments Allegedly Made by Company President

Nicalis President Tyler Rodriguez is alleged to have made several offensive comments over text communications as shown in screenshots supplied to Kotaku.

Among the comments are instances of him allegedly calling former President Obama a "porch monkey". The screenshots also appear to show him categorizing Nintendo as "gay" for apparently refusing to okay a build for an unnamed game in time for an upcoming PAX convention.

Several other comments have also used anti-semitic language. At one point, he states that someone named Matt was "getting jewed by his bank today". He also appears to have categorized the deceased founder of Macy's department stores Fred Lazarus Jr. as a "jew" and a "corrupt asshole".

The Binding of Isaac Afterbirth Nintendo Switch

The Binding of Isaac Dev Cancels Future Business

The fallout from the Nicalis exposé may have already begun to negatively impact their business. The Binding of Isaac developer Edmund McMillen stated that he would be putting a stop to plans to work with the company for two of their future games, one of which is releasing later this year.

"I won’t be moving forward with Nicalis when it comes to the port of The Legend of Bum-bo or any console versions of Mewgenics," he said in an email to Kotaku. "[Binding of Isaac: Repentance] will still be releasing as originally planned, the team poured their heart and soul into this DLC and it’s very close to releasing."

Nicalis Responds to Allegations

Nicalis, for its part, has responded to these allegations with a statement to Kotaku which we've reproduced in full:
Developing and publishing games is a dream for the staff of nearly 20 that work at Nicalis, Inc. Some of our team have been with the company almost a decade and we work hard to create an environment where we treat our team members with respect. They are what make the company.

We do not condone abusive workplace environments or discrimination and have people from all walks of life. We hope for the continued success of our internal team and our external developers.

Regarding the companies under mutual NDA with Nicalis, Devolver (publisher of Enter the Gungeon) and The Game Bakers (developer of Furi), we can only comment that we do not have any signed publishing agreements with them and never have.

We can't say for sure how much of this (if anything) is true, although there is such a volume of allegations and supporting screenshots that it certainly makes the company look bad. I've only scratched the surface on the subject; it's well worth reading the full Kotaku piece to see how bad things may be.

What do you think of the alleged Nicalis "ghosting" and offensive comments? Do you think the company will be able to survive in light of these allegations? Let us know in the comments below!

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One of my earliest memories is playing Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I… More about Robert N