Kindly Beast, the developer of indie horror Bendy and the Ink Machine, appears to have undergone some major changes, and almost all of them are being received negatively by employees and the wider industry. Chief among these claims is that the company allegedly fired 50 employees while also struggling with internal politics wrecking forward progress on their games. The indie developer has also been accused of fostering a toxic work environment.
The first rumblings of trouble came when some noticed that Twitter profiles and other social media presences were edited to no longer include references to Kindly Beast. This was noticed for dozens of employees, and people quickly put two-and-two together, realizing that these people had been fired. Although the company has yet to formally confirm these layoffs or any other controversy, it seems like the rest of the games industry is in on the secret. Reviews of Kindly Beast appeared on Glassdoor (a website that allows current and former employees to anonymously review companies) showing that the multitude of employees cited a toxic work environment. A lot of the negative feedback in these reviews directly blamed CEO Mike Mood for creating such problems.
According to one review, “Work was discarded at the discretion of the Board and sometimes openly insulted by the CEO,” another reviewer said that, “We had a leadership structure full of incredibly successful and knowledgeable individuals who had the entire studio’s best interests in mind. They were fired,” alleging a major brain drain occurring within the company. These review also said that “consistent lies” were a fact of life at the developer, as were broken promises. They characterized projects at Kindly Beast as being stuck in limbo. These problems led to a systemic series of fallouts, wherein established practices and policies were dismantled and replaced with a much more inconsistent development style that placed CEO Mike Mood in an undue level of control.
Ottawa-based videogame collective Dirty Rectangles also chimed in, adding their own voice to the chorus claiming that something rather bad went on at the studio. Though they didn’t offer specifics, the intent is pretty clear that a lot of people are now out of a job. Other developers and industry persona have pushed for new opportunities for those affected, including publishing a compiled list of opportunities for those in the Ottawa area.