Former Stardew Valley co-dev reveals why they parted ways with ConcernedApe

Arthur “Mr. Podunkian” Lee, a key developer behind Stardew Valley updates 1.4 and 1.5, recently shared insights on his departure from the project and his strained relationship with Eric Barone, also known as ConcernedApe.

While Stardew Valley 1.0 remains a one-man game, Arthur Lee, a California-based developer, has been a vital part of a team contributing to updates 1.4 and 1.5 of the popular game. In July 2022, however, Lee announced he would be leaving work on Stardew Valley to “pursue his independent projects.” In a recent X (formerly known as Twitter) post, Mr. Podunkian shared a screenshot of a candid Discord chat, airing his grievances about compensation and ownership issues with the Stardew Valley creator.

Arthur Lee Stardew Valley Discord conversation
Candid conversation over Discord. Screenshot by Dot Esports via Arthur Lee’s X account

Here, Lee voiced his discontent, noting that ConcernedApe is “primarily “almost exclusively” focused on Haunted Chocolatier, while he himself is dedicated to working on the 1.6 update for Stardew Valley.

The conversation also highlighted his frustration over the “lack of upward mobility” within a two-person team, lamenting the inability to ascend to the position of “Vice ConcernedApe.” Ultimately, Arthur Lee felt unrecognized for his contributions and unrewarded for his efforts on Stardew Valley 1.6, a potential Stardew Valley 2, and the Stardrop Engine. Lee clarifies that while he doesn’t seek ownership of Stardew Valley 1.0, he expected a share of profits from the updates he worked on in addition to his salary. Allegedly, ConcernedApe’s response was simply, “if you’re unhappy, leave.”

This isn’t Lee’s first rodeo; he’s previously taken aim at ConcernedApe, questioning the omission of his online alias from game credits. Notably, neither Lee’s nor ConcernedApe’s monikers grace the 1.6 credits. Adding fuel to the fire, Lee accuses ConcernedApe of trolling him through a burner X account, leading to his contractor stint’s abrupt end. 

Community reactions reflect a mix of sympathy for Lee’s plight and disappointment over the fallout. Many express support for his new ventures while voicing distaste for the public airing of grievances, saying that the whole ordeal leaves “a sour taste in their mouths.”

Lee’s departure marks a significant shift in the Stardew Valley development landscape, unveiling underlying tensions within the team. As the gaming community processes this revelation, attention now turns to Lee’s forthcoming projects. With full autonomy over his creations, Lee now embarks on a new journey, which he hopes to release in Q4 of 2024.

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