Crytek: Ex-Employee Complaints 'Misleading'

September 8, 2011 -

Crysis 2 developer Crytek is on the offensive this week, denying accusations that it mistreats its employees and treats them like "disposable pieces of meat to be discarded at will." A Tumblr blog, "hire and fire Crytek," accused the developer of treating its employees "as disposable pieces of meat to be discarded at will" and described the Frankfurt studio as hostile workplace where management had "unlawfully fired employees" and forced out senior developers who the company thought could be replaced by younger and less-experienced hires.

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Black Rock Studio Officially Closes Today

September 2, 2011 -

Disney announced earlier this year that, as part of a restructuring plan, it would close several studios - including Black Rock. Today that closure has finally happened, according to a tweet from former studio director Nick Baynes.

"@blackrockster officially closes its doors today," he wrote via Twitter. "Thoughts go out to all facing their last day. A bright future awaits all though I'm sure!"

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Layoffs Hit Two 2K Czech Studios

September 1, 2011 -

2K Czech has laid off more than 40 staff, according to a Develop report. The layoffs occurred at two studios operating under the 2K Czech brand. One group, based in Brno, has lost up to 40 developers, sources inside the company have told Develop. The other studio in Prague has laid off around 10 employees, according to insiders. Both studios employ around 200.

2K Games tells Develop that the layoffs do not mean that the company is changing the focus of the 2K Czech studio.

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THQ Closing Kaos and Digital Warrington Studios

June 13, 2011 -

According to a Gamasutra report, THQ is in the process of closing Digital Warrington and Kaos Studios, two of its wholly-owned development studios. The Kaos Studios closure had been hinted at by THQ earlier this year, as the company eyed moving its developmental operations to the Montreal area where it already has a presence.

"THQ continues its strategy of aligning the best industry talent with the company’s marquee franchises," the company said in a statement sent to Gamasutra.

In March THQ laid off 17 employees, leaving the studio about 70 developers strong. Today those 70 employees are out of work, though THQ said that it is hiring for Montreal and all employees that have been let go may apply for jobs there. That is little comfort for those that can't afford to relocate to Canada.

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Eden Games Stages 'Symbolic Day Strike' After Massive Layoffs

May 11, 2011 -

Test Drive Unlimited 2 and the V-Rally series developer Eden Games is not happy with the way Atari has been treating it and - in the face of enormous redundancies at the company - have gone on strike today. In the face of layoffs, the French studio has said enough, and are refusing to work. After learning they are to lose 51 of their 80 employees they’ve taken strike action.

Eden issued the following statement:

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Report: Hudson's U.S. Office Closing, Staff layoffs in the Works

March 9, 2011 -

According to a report on AndriaSang, Hudson's U.S. offices are going to be closed and a large number of employees are going to be looking for new jobs. According to the report Konami will close Hudson's U.S. offices and layoff 40 of its employees. The closure will be completed by March 31. Ownership of the company will be finalized April 1.

Those 40 employees will get severance package, bonuses and help with finding new work. Future Hudson development will take place at the company's Japanese headquarters. At that point, the company best known for the Bomberman series will focus on creating social game content.

Source: GI.biz

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Foxconn Implements Work-Friendly Changes

August 18, 2010 -

It was a different scene today at the Shenzhen, China-based Foxconn plant, which employs over 300,000 workers who assemble everything from iPhones to video game accessories. Today Foxconn held a rally designed to promote living and loving life and to generally boost the morale of workers - who only a few months ago were as unhappy as a worker can be in a plant that expects the average employee to work 80 hours of overtime a week.

Just a few months ago morale was so low that more than a dozen employees committed suicide, prompting the company to install safety nets on the top of its buildings. But more importantly, it made the company face the reality that productivity has to be balanced with the well being of its employees.

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Chinese MSFT Supplier Under Fire for Worker Conditions

April 19, 2010 -

A Chinese factory that provides computer parts and Xbox 360 controllers to Microsoft, and other U.S. companies, has seen the conditions of its workers scrutinized in a scathing report issued by The National Labor Committee (NLC).

The NLC report focused on the KYE Factory in Dongguan City, Guangdong and offered a laundry list of complaints. Among them, workers earn an average of 65 cents an hour (52 cents per hour after deducting for food), workers average 68 hours of work per week, and that workers are prohibited from “talking, listening to music or using the bathroom” during working hours.

Additionally, the factory was said to have a preference for hiring 18 to 25 year old women, as “they are easier to discipline and control,” and also hires “work-study students,” or 16 and 17 year olds who work mandatory 15-hour shifts six or seven days per week.  Workers also share lodging in “primitive” dorm rooms that house up to 14 people.

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Trash Wars Lampoons Toronto's Sanitation Strike

August 3, 2009 -

A recently-concluded strike by sanitation workers in Toronto serves as the subject matter for Trash Wars, an online parody game.

As the Toronto Star reports, the game was designed by Hafiz Kassam, owner of Q-KMBR Games. Kassam told the newspaper:

It just popped into my head. I have made games in the past... just for the sake of making them, but I wanted to (release) something for the mainstream public – something with a message versus just a game.

 

I dumbed [the complexity] down so people don't get overwhelmed. (It's) for people who don't play video games that often.

Indeed, the game simply involves shooting ever-increasing numbers of rats as you stand atop a large pile of uncollected trash bags.

GP: Thanks to GamePolitics reader Trencher for the tip!

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Card Check Controversy Sparks Game, Exchange of Insults

July 15, 2009 -

GameCulture reports on Card Checked, a Flash game created by Libertarian Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Relief.

When we last saw Norquist on the pages of GamePolitics he was speaking out in opposition to video game legislation in Utah. This time around, his game - set in a tattoo parlor - is meant to rally opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act. GameCulture explains:

Card Check [is a] a majority sign-up policy that makes it easier for unions to get employer recognition. If at least 50% of employees sign a card authorizing representation, secret ballots can be bypassed. ATR says that "in the game, the player is a tattoo artist who faces several attempts by union organizers to get you to sign the card, including visiting you at home, vandalizing your car, threatening your cat, and even offering you marijuana."

As it turns out, labor leader Eddie Vale of the AFL-CIO took offense not only to the game's portrayal of union organizers as thugs, but to its game play as well:

As anyone who actually grew up playing Atari or Nintendo will know, calling this a video game is as accurate as their lies about the Employee Free Choice Act...

Norquist minion Brian Johnson wasted no time in firing back at Vale:

I'm not sure that a 1930s throwback like the AFL-CIO should be giving advice about what's cool. We're not sure what video games have been cranked out this year by the international brotherhood of video game programmers, but we'd be happy to stack our game up to any union-made product any day.

70 comments

Union Labor vs. Independents in Crane Wars

June 29, 2009 -

Here at GamePolitics we're always up for an issue-oriented game.

And while we can't recall another offering based on the conflict between union labor and independent workers, Crane Wars, currently featured at Blurst, explores the never-ending conflict between the two groups.

With Toronto suffering through a strike by sanitation workers, The Star found particular relevance in Crane Wars' labor theme. Designer Steve Swink, who possesses a political science degree and a fascination with the labor movement, spoke to the newspaper about his game:

We're soft on the Union for sure but we make coy little jabs at both sides. Your money, for instance, is constantly decreasing to the point of motion blur to remind you that you're running a Union shop, and doing work is EXPENSIVE.

 

We definitely wanted the controls and gameplay pacing to reflect real cranes, at least so far as they are unwieldy, slow-moving machines that take a lot of skill. It's not an easy job, and the folks doing it certainly deserve much respect...

As a small indie shop that is free of publishers and can set our own hours, I think health care would be the thing that interests us most. The big question mark with labour organization though is how it would affect prices of games for players.

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Survey Says: 98% of Game Developers Not Receiving Overtime Pay

May 26, 2009 -

Five years after EA Spouse spilled the beans on the video game industry's abuse of its game development teams, a new survey indicates that worker bees still aren't getting their due.

Develop reports that 98% of respondents to a recent poll said that they are putting in 10-15 extra hours of work per week but getting no overtime pay. Results were based on answers provided by more than 350 industry professionals.

See the results of the Develop survey here.

36 comments

Fun Facts From EA's Annual Report

May 22, 2009 -

The annual report of game publishing giant Electronic Arts landed in GP's inbox this morning. Typically, reading through these things is a surefire remedy for insomnia, but EA's contains a few tidbits worth mentioning.

1.) EA's failed bid to gobble up Take-Two cost the company $21 million:

As a result of the terminated discussions [with T2], we recognized $21 million in related costs consisting of legal, banking and other consulting fees...

2.) EA uses DRM (you knew that) and is watching for piracy online:

We typically distribute our PC products using copy protection technology, digital rights management technology or other technological protection measures to prevent piracy... We are actively engaged in enforcement and other activities to protect against unauthorized copying and piracy, including monitoring online channels for distribution of pirated copies, and participating in various industry-wide enforcement initiatives, education programs and legislative activity around the world.

3.) Only 3% of EA employees are unionized, and they all work for DICE:

As of March 31, 2009, we had approximately 9,100 regular, full-time employees, of whom over 5,100 were outside the United States... Approximately 3 percent of our employees, all of whom work for DICE, our Swedish development studio, are represented by a union, guild or other collective bargaining organization.

4.) GameStop and Wal-Mart are EA's biggest customers; each accounts for 14% of EA sales:

Worldwide, we had direct sales to two customers, GameStop Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which each represented approximately 14 percent of total net revenue for the fiscal year... the concentration of our sales in one, or a few, large customers could lead to a short-term disruption in our sales if one or more of these customers significantly reduced their purchases or ceased to carry our products...

5.) EA worries about game content legislation and its potential effect on sales:

Legislation is continually being introduced in the United States... for the establishment of government mandated rating requirements or restrictions on distribution of entertainment software based on content... Other countries have adopted or are considering laws regulating or mandating ratings requirements...  Adoption of government ratings system or restrictions... could harm our business by limiting the products we are able to offer to our customers...

6.) EA worries about falling victim to a Hot Coffee incident but has taken steps to prevent it from happening:

If one or more of our titles were found to contain hidden, objectionable content, our business could suffer... Retailers have on occasion reacted to the discovery of such hidden content by removing these games from their shelves, refusing to sell them, and demanding that their publishers accept them as product returns.

We have implemented preventative measures designed to reduce the possibility of hidden, objectionable content from appearing in the video games we publish. Nonetheless, these preventative measures are subject to human error, circumvention, overriding, and reasonable resource constraints.

 
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Is King right? Should all games adopt the free-to-play model?:

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Andrew EisenAs it happens, Chinatown Wars is the only GTA game I've played.04/19/2014 - 10:43am
Papa MidnightWith GTA5 (to date) failing to even provide indication of a PC release, I'm realising that this might be the first GTA game that I have not played (outside of Chinatown Wars) since the series inception.04/19/2014 - 8:14am
IanCSo im guessing a bunch of edutainment games, which a lot of people elsewhere are going gaga over, dot count as classics? Okay. If you don't mind me, i have a sudden urge to play Putt Putt....04/19/2014 - 6:15am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/18/playstation-99-cent-sale-discounts-tokyo-jungle-super-stardust/ Weekend long PSN flash sale. So much stuff is 99 cents for the rest of the weekend.04/18/2014 - 5:59pm
Adam802http://www.polygon.com/2014/4/18/5627928/newtown-video-game-addiction-forum04/18/2014 - 4:14pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a video talking about why certain games/products/consoles do well, and others do not. he back it up with solid research.04/18/2014 - 3:56pm
Andrew EisenI'm not keen on blind links. What is it?04/18/2014 - 3:45pm
Matthew Wilsonthis is worth a whatch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyXcr6sDRtw&list=PL35FE5C4B157509C904/18/2014 - 3:43pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
 

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