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Gaming

Rick And Morty Creator Leaves Studio Behind Massive Game Pass Hit

A talking gun smiles when aimed at someone covered in the yellow goo.

Image: Squanch games

Justin Roiland leaves Squanch Games just a month after comedy shooter High in life became The hottest Xbox Game Pass launch of 2022. The co-founder of the studio who performs much of High in life‘s characters is currently facing two charges of domestic violence from 2020.

Squanch Games announced the news late Tuesday, shortly after Adult Swim revealed that it did Drop Roiland Rick and Morty also. But the CEO’s firing apparently happened more than a week ago, on January 16, four days after news of the domestic violence allegations (which Roiland pleaded guilty to) first broke, and three days after that my city first reported on a lawsuit 2018 accusing the studio of workplace harassment and discrimination (and which was resolved in 2019).

“Squanch’s passionate team will continue to develop games that we know our fans will love, while continuing to support and improve High in life,” the studio tweeted yesterday. Squanch Games did not immediately respond to a request for comment on why Roiland stepped down, whether it was aware of any other allegations related to him or the studio, or whether he still holds stock in Squanch.

Co-founded by Roiland and former Epic Games executive producer Tanya Watson in 2016, Squanch Games’ first projects include virtual reality games Bookkeeping and Dr. Splorchy presents: Space Heroes. Those were followed in 2019 by action platformer Trover saves the universe. Each of them relied heavily on Roiland’s voice performances that were very reminiscent of his work on Rick and Morty.

In recent years High in lifeHowever, which started out as a Google Stadia exclusive, was by far the studio’s biggest game. In my cityhis own review, writer Alyssa Mercante found the humor grating and thought the running gags were longer welcome, but she was pleasantly surprised by the visual style and gunplay. The game similarly divided other critics, but audiences flocked to it on Xbox and PC, where it was available on Game Pass from day one.

Whether it was for the game’s own merits or the fact that it showed up at the end of an otherwise anemic year for Xbox exclusives and blockbusters, it shot straight to the top of the charts on Game Pass. Shortly after release, Microsoft crowned it “Xbox Game Pass’s largest launch of 2022, the largest 3rd party Game Pass launch of all time, and the largest release of a single-player-only game in the service’s history.”

That award came after a major promotional campaign for the game on the platform, including a podcast interview between human Xbox mascot Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb and Roiland, where the latter discussed the game and its influences. That has now gone quiet, with the Xbox Game Pass Twitter account not tweeting High in life since news of the domestic violence allegations first broke.

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