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Axiom Verge Producer Suing Badland Publishing For $200,000

by Javy Gwaltney on Mar 17, 2019 at 11:20 AM

A few days ago, Limited Run Games revealed that the long-awaited Wii U physical edition of the popular Metroid homage Axiom Verge was finally going to be released on March 29. While that bit of news garnered more than a few responses of "huh, that's interesting," the far more interesting  story emerged alongside the announcement. Dan Adelman, a producer for Axiom Verge, took to Twitter to reveal a long, twisting account that explains the Wii U physical edition's delay, as well as the reasons for his lawsuit against the edition's former European publisher, Badland Publishing. 

In his account, Adelman says both he and Tom Happ, Axiom Verge's creator, went with Badland Publishing (which is also publishing The Occupation and Nightmare Boy) for the European physical release of the game because Badland promised a generous deal. Not only would the company match what other publishers were offering in terms of revenue share, but would also contribute a whopping 75 percent of its cut in order to create a trust fund to support Happ's child Alastair, born with Kernicterus. 

Adelman alleges that when it came time for Badland to pay its share and put down money for Alastair's health fund, communications with the publisher went dark. He says that he's suing the company for at least $200,000, but that "because of the international nature of the suit, it's proving hard to make headway." Adelman ended his account by claiming Badland Publishing "has literally stolen money from a disabled toddler."

A few hours after Adelman's tweets, Badland Publishing CEO Luis Quintans responded to the comments, and the various articles that had been published about them, with a statement stating that the company's financial circumstances made it difficult to stick to the original timeline it proposed, but that the company had every intention of repaying the debt. You can read the statement in full here:

We've reached out to Adelman for his thoughts on Badland's statement. Here's what he said:

First of all, I would like to say that my heart goes out to Luis's family and their sick child. My daughter has also had major health issues in the past, so I understand what it's like. (Unlike Alastair Happ, however, my daughter fortunately does not appear to have any major long-term disabilities as a result of her issues.) And as much as I may sound naive in saying it, I still take Luis at his word that his intent to contribute 75% of BadLand's profits to Alastair's healthcare trust fund was sincere and motivated by his desire to help. I don't believe he set out to deceive any of us and in the beginning operated in good faith.

If BadLand can make good on its end of our business arrangement, I harbor no ill will toward Luis or anyone else at BadLand. That said, they haven't demonstrated any serious attempt to make good on what they owe. Over the course of a couple months, we had discussed and agreed to terms under which they would pay Tom, but when I sent them a payment plan, I didn't hear back for a couple weeks. I asked them to get back to me, but they said they were discussing it with their lawyer and would get back to me ASAP. That was in early August and was the last email I received from them. (For context, Axiom Verge: Multiverse Edition launched in Europe on January 26, 2018. It normally takes about 3-4 months after launch for the revenues to come in so that developers can be paid.)

It was around this time that I decided to retain a lawyer, as I was getting the sense they were just stalling for time. Since then, they have published multiple games so they must have had cash at their disposal. Their decision to use that cash to publish more games instead of to pay their existing debts was a deliberate choice they made.

I do hope they re-engage with us as well as Limited Run Games. As I said, I'm sure I speak for Tom when I say that neither of us harbors any ill will toward the company. We just want to get this resolved, as the amounts involved would have a meaningful impact on Tom's and Alastair's life.

Thanks,
Dan

Josh Fairhurst, owner of Limited Run Games (which is handling the physical distribution of Axiom Verge) and part of the lawsuit against Badland also chimed in with his own perspective on the situation, saying 

It's worth reiterating that Luis only offered me a payment plan after I'd initiated legal action.

I had provided several options for repayment to him and months went by with no effort from him to resolve his debt. That silence is what lead me to a lawsuit. By the time he offered to pay in installments, I had no reason to trust that those installments would come through. From my standpoint, I had sent him my $78,000 in a single payment and I expected the same in return.

Over the last year, BadLand Publishing has released four titles physically on the Switch (Ginger, Anima, Nightmare Boy, and Operación Triunfo 2017 - and yes, despite the 2017 label, that did come out recently at retail). These physical runs require upfront cash payments to Nintendo and a minimum run on Switch in Europe for four titles is going to cost  over $100,000.

They've had the money to pay us back, they've just opted to use it elsewhere. That is why we're upset. 

Usually, these sort of situations are very complicated, with shades of gray about the whole matter. However, Quintans' convoluted response isn't doing a lot to engender sympathy to the publisher's  situation.

 

[We updated this piece on March 16 at 3:21 PM Central to include Adelman's response to Badland's statement. It was later updated on March 17 at 11:21 AM Central to include Fairhurst's comment. ]