Steve Gaynor, the controversial co-founder of Gone Home and Tacoma developer Fullbright, is now going it alone under the Fullbright name following accusations of toxic workplace behaviour in August 2021.
Gaynor made headlines at the time after an exodus of 15 Fullbright staff was, in part, blamed on his behaviour toward fellow workers. An investigation by Polygon claimed Gaynor was "controlling", and that staff, particularly women, frequently felt "undermined and demeaned", disparaged and discredited.
Soon after, Gaynor publicly acknowledged his "leadership style was hurtful to people that worked at Fullbright", and announced he would be stepping back from the day-to-day development of the studio's latest game, Open Roads. A separate statement from Fullbright confirmed Gaynor would also be vacating his role as the studio's creative lead and manager.
"The last few years have shown me that my own strengths do not lie with attempting to manage a large project or direct the work of others," Gaynor wrote in the update. "I was increasingly unhappy in that higher-level role, and I let that affect how I acted towards people at the studio. It's something I really regret and should have managed to address sooner. But that didn't happen, and that's on me."
Gaynor added that "after a great deal of consideration, it's just no longer Fullbright's place to represent Open Roads publicly going forward". As such, the Annapurna-Interactive-published title - a narrative adventure following a mother and daughter as they explore long-abandoned family properties - will now be credited to "The Open Roads Team" at launch.
It's not clear if the Open Roads team will continue to operate and develop future titles together as its own entity, but Gaynor says he has "been working on a new Fullbright game as a solo developer" for the last year. "I hope that along with continuing the self-reflective work of the last couple years and moving forward with a sense of humility," he added, "that by taking Fullbright down this new path I'm able to make my next steps positive, productive ones."
There's no release date for Open Roads yet, but it's currently expected to launch for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC later this year.