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Indie Dev Cancels Game After Alleging Business Partners Embezzled; Questions Abound

by Mike Futter on Feb 01, 2016 at 09:31 AM

Over the weekend, a relatively unknown developer attracted a great deal of attention for a relatively mundane announcement. Ant Simulator, a game you likely haven’t heard of, has been canceled. But it’s the circumstances that have led to a great deal of questions.

In his video, Eric Tereshinski details a sordid tale of embezzlement and destroyed friendship. The developer says that his friends of 11 years robbed him of Kickstarter funds and other investments.

“I recently found out that my ex-business partners were secretly stealing company money,” Tereshinski claims. “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.”

The Kickstarter Tereshinski refers to is not for the canceled Ant Simulator, but for a series of instructional game development videos. That campaign raised $4,459 from 149 backers. It’s unclear how much money he believes his former partners improperly used.

Additionally, Tereshinski says that he is legally obliged to remove all evidence of Ant Simulator, another game called Go Home, You’re Drunk, and the Kickstarted Ultimate Game Dev videos. “Resigning and canceling Ant Simulator is the only option to me right now,” he claims. “This is a huge and disappointing setback.”

There is much of this story that is still unclear. We attempted to reach out to the company (and, by extension, Tereshinski’s business partners). However, the developer appears to retain control of all social accounts and points of contact.

He responded to our request for more information simply reaffirming what he said in his video. “Yeah, what you've heard is true,” he said via email. “My ex-business partners demonstrated to me that they're willing to keep secrets from me and jeopardize the game for drinks. They put forth a lot of effort to keep me from finding out how that spent the money. They planned on getting away with it. Now I'm the one who has to clean up this mess and push forward. These other two guys don't care about making games. Hell, one of them doesn't even play video games. Making video has always been my dream career. I'm not going to stop working towards that goal.”

We’ve followed up, asking a number of questions to better understand the situation. We’re hopeful that Tereshinski can put a finer point on how much money was embezzled, provide more detail about the LLC agreement that supposedly binds him from releasing the game, and help us put into context how many pre-orders are affected.

At the same time, we’ve reached out to both named business partners. We have opted not to include their names at this time, as the accusations levied have serious legal implications. We were able to determine that it appears that Tereshinski and the other two individuals do know each other, as they are connected on Facebook.

We’ll update as more information develops. 

Thanks to the many readers that sent in tips about this story.

Update: We have since heard back from Tereshinski's business partners. You can read an interview with them for their response to the situation.


Our Take
For now, we recommend withholding judgment until we know more of the story. We opted to run something now, as there seems to be misinformation about this situation making the rounds. All we can confirm reliably is that Ant Simulator has been canceled.