Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone has clarified his relationship with Chucklefish after the developer-publisher, which published the wholesome farming simulator on a number of platforms, was accused of exploiting volunteers during the development of Starbound.
Outlining the situation in a blog post, Barone explained Chucklefish has only ever served as Stardew Valley's publisher, which meant handling business and marketing, aside from a single instance when a sole Chucklefish employee created the game's multiplayer net-code.
He also pointed out that he's been self-publishing Stardew Valley on PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PS Vita since December 2018, meaning the under-fire company hasn't been involved with that side of the business for over nine months.
"I am aware of the news and social media reports that Chucklefish allegedly engaged in unfair and potentially abusive labor practices during development of their game, Starbound. I feel the need to address this situation because the connection between Chucklefish and Stardew Valley […] has been a source of confusion for many people," he wrote.
"Throughout the 4.5 years of development, I was the only person to work on Stardew Valley. Neither Chucklefish nor any contributors working with Chucklefish were involved in creating the game, in any capacity.
"I can also say that, both personally and in my capacity as the recent founder of a small team, I believe in compensating developers for their contributions in working on games."
In a tweet posted on October 1, Barone also revealed he's now self-publishing Stardew Valley on Switch, meaning Chucklefish is now only involved with the mobile version of the game.
Despite multiple former volunteers accusing Chucklefish of exploitative practices, the studio has denied the allegations and claims its community contractors "were under no obligation to create content, work to deadlines or put in any particular number of hours."