Two years after 'toxic' studio management scandal, Steve Gaynor is working as a solo developer under the Fullbright name

Open Roads Tess and Opal
(Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)

Indie developer Steve Gaynor is running Gone Home developer Fullbright as a solo outfit from now on, having split with the team making the narrative driving adventure Open Roads.

As reported by PCGamesN, Gaynor published a blog post explaining the organisational change. "Last time I sent one of these we were just wrapping up the first round of press for Open Roads", it begins. "Then there was some serious turmoil at the studio. I stepped away from the project. Not much was shared about what we were working on. I did my best to reflect and reconsider how I worked with people."

The "serious turmoil" Gaynor refers to occurred in 2021, when a report by Polygon claimed that Gaynor was a "controlling" and "demeaning presence", resulting in the departure of fifteen employees from Fullbright, reducing the studio to just six people. The report didn't accuse Gaynor of sexual harassment or "explicit sexism" but that Gaynor's "behaviour toward workers, specifically women on the team" created a toxic culture that directly contributed to the departure of at least 12 employees. One employee described it as like "working for a high-school mean girl," adding that "His go-to weapon was to laugh at people's opinions and embarrass them in front of other people."

In 2022, Game Informer reported that Gaynor stepped down from his role as project lead some time after the allegations surfaced. Now it appears he's removed himself from any association with the game entirely. 

"The last few years have shown me my own strengths do not lie with attempting to manage a large project or direct the work of others," Gaynor writes in his blog. "I was increasingly unhappy in that higher-level role, and I let that affect how I acted towards people at the studio.

"To that end, for the last year or so I've been working on a new Fullbright game as a solo developer."

As for what this means for Open Roads, Gaynor explains that development of the game is continuing under new management and with a new studio name. "After a great deal of consideration, it's just no longer Fullbright's place to represent Open Roads publicly going forward; it will be credited to 'The Open Roads Team' at launch and won't be covered here."

Gaynor then points readers to the newsletter for Open Roads' publisher Annapurna Interactive, for any forthcoming news about the game's development and launch. Open Roads is currently listed as "Coming Soon" on Steam.