Last year, ex-Creative Intelligence Agency developer Tariq Lacy accused his former studio of embezzling Kickstarter funds from previous video game Project Phoenix in order to create Tiny Metal. Over 6 months later, Lacy has since retracted his statement against the newly reformed studio, AREA 35, revealing that the accusations were untrue.
The attack was squarely aimed at director and producer Hiroaki Yura, claiming that the previous studio responsible for Project Phoenix, Creative Intelligence Arts, only shut its doors so that Yura could work on the game he always wanted to make – the Advance Wars spiritual successor, Tiny Metal. Tiny Metal has originally failed to achieve its Kickstarter goal, while Project Phoenix made ten times that of its starter goal.
Yura denied any and all accusations, not only labelling Lacy’s statements as “factually incorrect,” but also revealing him to be a troublesome employee. Lacy was inevitably bought out of his contract, which Yura claims was “due to him being a toxic employee who has sexually harassed our female staff amongst many other problems.”
Although it was one word against another as both sides originally lacked evidence towards their accusations, Yura spent some time compiling a case against Lacy for defamation. This looks to have been a successful case for Yura and his team at AREA 35, as a Japanese court of arbitration has mandated Lacy publicly apologises for his actions.
“The counterparty admits that the post/article/comment written on the 20th of November 2017 on the ‘Project Phoenix' Facebook Page, managed by the complainant company, is contrary to the truth and to apologize to the complainant company,” the mediation ruling states via translation from Japanese to English. “As a concrete form of apology, the counterparty is to publicly post sentences as written on pages 5-6 of this document on his personal Facebook page:”
On November 20, 2017 (Heisei 29) I posted the entry ‘Comments' to the Area 35 Co., Ltd. (Representative Director Yura Hiroaki) operated Facebook page entitled ‘Project Phoenix', at a point in time after my own departure from that same company. In regard to this entry, and with the exception of the fact that I was employed by the company until two months prior to the posting, I now admit that everything it stated was contrary to the truth, and I offer a deep and profound apology to AREA 35 Co., Ltd.
Furthermore, I also apologize for significant damage caused to AREA 35 Co., Ltd., and damage caused to the good name and reputation of Mr. Yura Hiroaki, due to such occurrences as the falsehoods that I posted being picked up and reported by media organizations within the United States of America.
I am fully aware that my actions also relate to the trust placed in the videogame industry, and that they must have been very shocking for everyone involved in said industry. Please allow me to apologize again for my actions.
It looks as though Lacy’s lengthy apology has been enough for AREA 35, which recognises that it owes him a total of ¥600,000 ($5400) from his contractual buyout. Unfortunately for Lacy, ¥410,661 ($3697) of this money will be going straight into the pocket of vice president Masamichi Eguchi, for circumstances unrelated to the case.
Project Phoenix still has a shot at life if Tiny Metal sells enough copies to warrant funds being distributed to the abandoned project, but both Yura and Area 35 business development manager Gian Carlo Peirce maintain that the closure of Creative Intelligence Agency was simply due to the game running out of money.
KitGuru Says: Given the amount of damage Lacy could have done to Tiny Metal during its launch phase, I’d say he got of decidedly light for his actions. As for Tiny Metal itself, it is a little hollow, but great contemporary nostalgia for Advance Wars veterans.