The development team behind upcoming road trip adventure game Open Roads has officially split from its former studio, Fullbright. Going forward, the game will be developed by ‘The Open Roads Team’, which will maintain a publishing partnership with Annapurna Interactive.
Fullbright co-founder Steve Gaynor announced the split in a blog post, explaining it is ‘no longer Fullbright’s place to represent Open Roads publicly’. Gaynor will continue to work under the Fullbright name, but will become a solo developer as he believes his strengths ‘do not lie with attempting to manage a large project or direct the work of others.’
In 2021, a major report from Polygon alleged Gaynor had created a toxic workplace environment at Fullbright, forcing several people to step down, and many others to endure ‘controlling’ and demeaning behaviours.
‘This is going to sound like a joke, but I’m completely serious: Working for him often felt like working for a high school mean girl,’ one former employee told Polygon. ‘His go-to weapon was to laugh at people’s opinions and embarrass them in front of other people.’
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Since this report broke, Fullbright’s reputation has suffered. Inadvertently, this impacted work on Open Roads, as the team contended with an allegedly ‘toxic’ legacy. Distancing itself from the Fullbright name will allow The Open Roads Team to refocus its priorities as the game heads to launch. It will also allow Gaynor to move forward in a solo capacity.
‘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 said. ‘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.’
‘For the last year or so I’ve been working on a new Fullbright game as a solo developer. I hope that along with continuing the self-reflective work of the last couple years and moving forward with a sense of humility, that by taking Fullbright down this new path I’m able to make my next steps positive, productive ones.’
Open Roads is currently set to launch in 2023. It stars Keri Russell (The Americans) and Kaitlyn Dever (Dopesick).