Ant Simulator, not to be confused with SimAnt, has been cancelled after its lead developer accused his partners of stealing company funds for alcohol and exotic dancers. The partners, however, have denied such accusations and are planning to seek legal action of their own.
It all started when Ant Simulator developer Eric Tereshinski posted a YouTube video explaining that after more than a year's work on the delightfully named title, he found himself legally strong-armed into canceling his crowdfunded game after discovering that his now ex-business partners had stolen money from the company to spend it on alcohol and exotic dancers.
"I recently found out that my ex-business partners were secretly stealing company money," Tereshinski lamented in a the now viral video. "They had secretly spent the overwhelming majority of both our Kickstarter money and the Ant Simulator investment money on liquor, restaurants, bars and even strippers."
As a result of this action, Tereshinski decided to resign from developer Eteeski as he no longer wanted to be associated with its co-founders, Tyler Monce (director of finance) and Devon Staley (director of operations).
Tereshinski explained that the problem was worse than simply losing the few grand Eteeski had raised through a Kickstarter for video game dev tutorials and Ant Simulator beta codes. The developer said that he cannot legally release Ant Simulator outside of Eteeski. Or at least he doesn't think he can.
"My ex-business partners directly said to me 'if you release Ant Simulator without us, I will sue you,'" Tereshinski said. "A year and a half ago I signed an LLC agreement with them. I trusted them, and they had been my friends for 11 years."
"Resigning and canceling Ant Simulator is really the only option available to me right now."
"I'm very pissed off that I lost money, I lost over a year in work, and I lost a game that I loved and I was proud of and I was really looking forward to releasing on Steam and PS4," Tereshinski concluded. "It was supposed to be my first big step in, ya know, really taking a shot at video games as a career. But I have to start over now."
When asked why Tereshinski wasn't planning to take Monce and Staley to court, he explained in a YouTube comment that he isn't sure he could win a court battle with his ex-business partners due to legal technicalities as the business opertors covered their tracks.
"The problem is that these guys covered their asses in the contract," he said. "They'll say the drinks were for business meetings, and they have the paperwork/minutes to prove they had meetings (even though I know they were bulls**t meetings). They went over the contract line by line with me and I reviewed the whole thing twice. I just didn't realise they had protected themselves, screwed me (like the fact that they listed themselves as consultants, so they aren't legally obligated to work on anything, but still have the rights to spend money ect.), and I had no idea what their plan was until it was too late."
"I could try to sue them, yes. The problem is that the most likely outcome is that things will end up more or less the same as they are now. The only difference is that I would have wasted a lot of time and money on court and lawyer fees. Cutting ties with them is just faster, simpler, and safer. Besides, I'm really damn good at making games. I will make other games. They won't."
However, there are two sides to every story and Monce and Staley have offered their perspective to GameInformer where they called Tereshinski's claim "100 per cent bulls**t" and accused the developer of trying to take their money and run.
"I don't know why he's painting that picture, but the reality is that anything that was spent in a bar or restaurant was very reasonable in nature when you look at any business, including video game companies," Monce explained. "It was part of our operating budget, it's not anything that was excessive. It was all reported to the IRS. The picture he's painting about that is 100 percent bull****."
The pair also noted that they put roughly $5k of their own money into the company, more than Tereshinski ever did. The pair said things were going well until Tereshinski decided to close the company's business accounts shortly after Thanksgiving. This is when Tereshinski claimed to have discovered the ill-spent funds.
"He took control of everything," Monce said. "He took control of not only all the company's physical property, our bank accounts, our social media accounts, our website (which he changed to just our faces for some unknown reason), that was all him. This all started to take place right after the game started to get really popular late in the summer. My personal theory is that he wanted to take it all for himself and cut us out of it. We made it clear that we weren't going to let him do that, because we had a moral and legal right not to."
So where did the money go? Monce said it was spent on independent contractors who worked on the game. "We paid all those contractors, as well," Monce said. "He's making this claim that we spent all this money on expensive entertainment, and that's completely false. We paid all these people who worked for us." Staley estimated this to be roughly nine or 10 people.
The pair also deflected Tereshinski's claim that they ruined his chance of getting a PS4 dev kit. Monce claimed that Sony needed a static IP address, dedicated internet line and a demo to get the hardware. Monce provided the former, but said Tereshinski couldn't get a solid demo put together in time.
"I think he wanted to create this outlandish story, grab headlines, and make us look terrible," Monce said. "So far, it's working for him."
Monce and Staley confirmed to GameInformer that they are planning to take legal action against Tereshinski, though the details of their case remain unclear as they assemble their complaint.