Stardew Valley isn't exactly a hotspot for controversies. Developer Eric Barone, also known by his online username ConcernedApe, is well-known for being a kind and patient person, never sparking any kind of problems with his community. Likewise, Stardew Valley is a relaxing game with no heavy themes or opinionated takes, meaning that it's rarely seen any kinds of controversies since its release.
Still, though, there have been a few opinions rising in the community, some pointing out the game for being problematic, though it's not often agreed upon by a large percentage of fans. For example, whether or not players should be allowed to wipe the memories of their exes in order to re-marry them, or the lack of diversity among the cast. But other situations were big enough to have seen responses from Eric Barone.
This controversy isn't centered around Stardew Valley, but rather another indie game published by Chucklefish. Chucklefish also acted as the developer for Starbound, but back in 2019, Chucklefish was accused of exploiting volunteers for their work on Starbound. Some volunteer developers were logging hundreds of hours of work, completing tasks similar to those of paid employees, but without any compensation.
Many involved with Starbound's development process supported these accusations, including Toby Fox, the creator of Undertale who also worked on Starbound's music. Following this news, many fans of Stardew Valley became concerned about its development process as well, but Eric Barone came forward to clarify the situation from his angle. This news came following Barone parting with Chucklefish, choosing to take over publishing duties in regards to PC, PS4, and Xbox One versions of the game while Chucklefish continued to take care of the Switch and mobile versions of the game.
Essentially, Stardew Valley was created by Barone solely until the multiplayer update was introduced with Version 1.3. But other than providing this code for PC, Chucklefish was not involved in Stardew's development process at all. Chucklefish only served as its publisher, meaning Barone could not be exploited for free labor during this process.
However, he ended the blog post by saying that he believes in "compensating developers for their contributions in working on games." Chucklefish responded to the accusations by claiming these volunteers were not obligated to complete tasks or work a certain number of hours, and did not deny the claims made against the company.
Though Stardew Valley largely involves raising farm animals, sometimes, other types of animals pop up in the game as well. For example, for those that romanced the bachelorette Abigail, they'll have noticed the guinea pig on her dresser named David. While this might seem harmless, one Redditor came forward, accusing Abigail of "irresponsible pet ownership."
According to u/Buffy_B, Abigail is making many mistakes with the way she raises David, including by raising the guinea pig on his own rather than in a herd, having a wheel in its cage, and having an aquarium for a habitat rather than a cage. Buffy was concerned this would lead to poor and dangerous pet ownership habits in real life. Many responded to this Reddit post, feeling that this inaccuracy is trivial and not worth the criticism.
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