Nicalis, Inc. is an American video game developer and publisher based in Santa Ana, California. The company focuses primarily on indie games and has developed and published both original games as well as ports of existing games. Nicalis was founded in 2007 by Tyrone Rodriguez, a former editor for IGN. In 2017, Nicalis announced that they had acquired SuperVillain Studios and Cowboy Color.
Since its founding, the company has developed and published several games, beginning with Dance Dance Revolution: Mobius in 2008 and Cave Story in 2010. In October 2011, Nicalis announced that it would publish a port of VVVVVV for the Nintendo 3DS via the Nintendo eShop. In December 2011, Nicalis offered both NightSky and Cave Story+ for sale as part of Humble Indie Bundle 4. In April 2012, Nicalis announced that its plans to publish the WiiWare port of La-Mulana in the US and EU had been cancelled, citing a steep decline in the WiiWare userbase. In January 2017, it was silently announced that Nicalis would release several of their games on the Nintendo Switch.
Games developed and published
Cave Story was nominated for Game of the Year at the 2010 Nintendo Power Awards, as well as WiiWare Game of the Year. The 3DS version of Cave Story was nominated for Best Adventure Game at the 2011 Nintendo Power Awards. At the 2011 Independent Games Festival, Cave Story was a finalist in the category of "Excellence In Visual Art" and both Cave Story and NightSky received honorable mentions in the category of "Excellence In Audio."
Controversy over management
In September 2019, Kotaku editor Jason Schreier posted a lengthy article compiled from interviews with anonymous internal employees of Nicalis and external developers that have used the company related to the management of the company, particularly to its CEO Tyrone Rodriguez. The investigation was spurred by observations from players of brief conflicts between Nicalis and their developers across social media in the years prior. The report asserted that Rodriguez was controlling and exploitative of his employees and encouraged a racist atmosphere within the company. External developers also stated that they felt Nicalis engaged in ghosting; they had signed deals for Nicalis to help publish their games, but later could not get any response from Nicalis, causing them to lose time and potential sales, and forcing them to turn to other publishers. In response to the report, Nicalis issued a statement stating "We do not condone abusive workplace environments or discrimination and have people from all walks of life." Rodriguez apologized on Twitter that his comments to his employees reported in the article were "indefensible and unacceptable".
On hearing of these accusations, Edmund McMillen, who had developed several games through Nicalis, stated that he "won’t be moving forward with Nicalis when it comes to the port of The Legend of Bum-bo or any console versions of Mewgenics, [Binding of Isaac: Repentance] will still be releasing as originally planned, the team poured their heart and soul into this DLC and it’s very close to releasing."
- "VVVVVV COMING TO 3DDDDDD!!!!!!". 6 October 2011. Archived from the original on 8 May 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
- Carter, Grey (27 March 2012). "NightSky Dev: Kojima is Terrible At Making Games". The Escapist. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
- McAloon, Alissa. "Cave Story 3D dev Nicalis acquires SuperVillain Studios and Cowboy Color". Gamasutra. Gamasutra. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
- Brown, Mark (14 December 2011). "Humble Indie Bundle 4 zips up Cave Story, Meat Boy, Shank and more (Wired UK)". Wired. Condé Nast Publications. Archived from the original on 17 January 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
- Jackson, Mike (1 May 2012). "Wii News: WiiWare: 'Window for success passed in 2009' - Nicalis - ComputerAndVideoGames.com". Computer and Video Games. Future Publishing. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
- Frank, Allegra (January 19, 2017). "Nintendo Switch UI gets new close-up in deleted tweet". Polygon. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
- Nintendo Power Issue 250. South San Francisco, California: Future US. 2010. p. 73.
- Nintendo Power Issue 276. South San Francisco, California: Future US. 2012.
- "2011 Independent Games Festival Announces Main Competition Finalists". Archived from the original on 1 May 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
- Schreier, Jason (September 12, 2019). "Inside The Ghosting, Racism, And Exploitation At Game Publisher Nicalis". Kotaku. Retrieved September 12, 2019.
- Olsen, Matthew (September 23, 2019). "Following Bombshell Report, More Indies Share Horror Stories of Working With Nicalis". USGamer. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
- Bailey, Dustin (September 12, 2019). "Binding of Isaac creator drops future plans to work with Nicalis after reports of exploitation". PCGamesN. Retrieved September 12, 2019.
- Schreier, Jason (September 13, 2019). "Nicalis founder Tyrone Rodriguez posted a statement on Twitter last night". Kotaku. Retrieved September 13, 2019.