First announced in September 2021, at the height of the global NFT crowd craze, northern guilds it was supposed to be “a fun-first, device-agnostic, dungeon-crawling blockchain MMORPG inspired by your favorite childhood games.” It may surprise you, reader, to learn that northern guilds has ended up being neither of those things.
What first reported by Martijn van Wezela member of the northern guilds Development team posted a lengthy Discord update on the project, telling anyone waiting for the game that it was dead, that Pixie Interactive (the company behind it) was dead, and claiming that everything had turned to shit because the leadership team he had spent all of his money on everything from cryptocurrency investments to “excessive business trips.”
Calling the past few months “a nightmare, a tragedy, a dumpster fire,” the former employee says that while it had initially been claimed that the game “had gotten enough funding a few months earlier to get us through 1.5-2 years of Development,” Pixie’s management team, consisting of CEO Thomas Konig and CTO Wesley Peeters, had been constantly busy trying to ensure plus money, including meeting with “Russian citizens”.
It is also alleged that the pair “started (unbeknownst to the rest of the team) another ‘NFTVault’ project”, which “quickly failed” but also “did their attention away from Pixie for a while”, leading to a period ” when our senior management and leadership climate started to change and we all felt it.”
The employee also accuses Konig and Peeters of spending the company’s tax money on a crypto investment:that collapsed—and that this was part of an unpaid $800,000 tax bill that ultimately bankrupted the studio. In a statement issued to KotakuKonig denies this, saying: “To my knowledge, the tax money was not used to invest in cryptocurrencies. I never had access to company finances.”
Other accusations made in the post include:
Tom began to completely disappear on and off in January and February. Our CEO was unable to lead the team, meet deadlines and communicate effectively or show up to meetings. It became more and more frequent to the point that by May the team barely heard from it and we lost weeks of work and momentum trying to manage the situation and rearrange roles, responsibilities and more…
Tom abandoned Wesley for most of the fundraising, bankruptcy, communication, and leadership process. Stringing everyone together with promises that the work would be done and updates would be coming soon. Leaving the mess for Wesley (and the crew) to clean up. They are both responsible for what happened. Unfortunately, so far, Tom has not taken responsibility for this situation and is avoiding all the consequences that Wesley faces. Wesley has been the only one of our founders who has tried to support and help employees in this process. He has recognized what has happened.
The developers now say they are trying to salvage worthless intellectual property and its assets so they can get something for the work they’ve done over the past year, and have also started work on a smaller-scale sports game loosely based on the same Viking premise.
While the statement was posted by the account of a single former developer, community manager Lynsey Christensen, it was also signed by several of them, including “Adam, Rachel, Miha, Dave, Bruno, Rayan, Brendon, Hunter, Walter , Alex and Wesley.” The only Wesley on the development team is Peeters.
While denying the crypto and tax accusations, Konig says Kotaku which blames the studio’s demise on hiring too many developers at too high a cost:
Much simpler, but no less heartbreaking and hard on everyone involved, and yet it’s entirely our fault, $2.5M before Dutch taxes doesn’t make an MMORPG when you scale your company to 20+ people in less than a year with a European salary structure just before a financial recession
And add to that we recruit internationally, so we also pay big fees to payroll companies.
That is before accountants, lawyers (with a background in crypto and crypto being a legally difficult field), licenses, marketing, travel expenses, overheads, and the list goes on.
I’ve also reached out to Peeters, who the post says “is also now personally bankrupt and has over a decade of paying what is owed to his government,” and will update if I hear from him. And please don’t confuse this story with the other one about an NFT game and crypto investments going wrong that was a different play.