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Mortal Kombat: crunch, low wages,toxic work environment... ex-employees describe working conditions at NetherRealm Studios

Scopa

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You're implying that Giant Bomb are defending NRS because they are "woke" when the former disgruntled workers are also "woke" and even specifically defending "woke" aspects about MK11. The wokeness has nothing to do with the working conditions of the company, else these former workers wouldn't be defending MK11 nor would Giant Bomb be taking the accusations with a grain of salt. You're trying to draw a connection based on correlation rather than causation.
What I said is perfectly valid and on the money and you have not refuted that one iota despite the fact you seem to think so.
 

CloudSolace

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I don't know what to say, but I do wish NRS was treated with more respect than this. Such a shame.
 
Jan 14, 2018
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Yes, but what do they say when they sell millions of copies and have their salary?

They say it as if other employees did not suffer in their work exploitation.
 
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Belmonte

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It's also an issue of portability of skills. I had an interview with blizzard regarding their fullstack node.js a while ago and they seemed to be cognizant of the fact that my skills could get me hired in a different industry. If you go to school to learn unreal and unity...I don't know, you're kinda fucked.

Perhaps it is because english isn't my first language but I couldn't understand your last sentence. You mean, learning unreal and unity in school is not a good idea because the game industry is full of people and these skills are only useful for games?
 

Rodolink

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wow.. Its like slavery is back. They just need to add sexual harassment to the workplace to become hell on earth.
There should be an Union for game devs.
That's what I think would done, a Game Dev Unified or something, its really sad that this is "normal" in AAA game dev environment. But is also driven by consumers always wanting more, faster, better games.
 

petran79

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Seems like once Midway collapsed and WB took over things have gotten worse for the MK team.

You could even recognize the names of the staff and actors of the old mk games and they even used an amateur announcer who specialised in pinball games.

Now game became an impersonal bloated mess.
 
Jan 25, 2018
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The solution to me seems obvious and that's devs need to simply hire more manpower in order to lighten the workload for each individual employee.

But of course greed runs rampant so they're going to try to get the maximum amount of work out of the least number of employees as they can.
 
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GenericUser

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please excuse my bad english
I advise every young person to resist the feeling that just because they are playing videogames, a job in the videogame indutry is a natural fit. If you are smart enough to program a game, you can earn much more money, much easier, by programming boring office software or boring websites.

100 hrs per week is absolutely bonkers.
 

FranXico

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I advise every young person to resist the feeling that just because they are playing videogames, a job in the videogame indutry is a natural fit. If you are smart enough to program a game, you can earn much more money, much easier, by programming boring office software or boring websites.

100 hrs per week is absolutely bonkers.
Absolutely. And even with such a day job, you can still make your games in your free time, at your own pace.
 
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It always seems to be US based companies where employees get treated bad. I don't want to sound like I am shitting on US (Expect for Rockstar North.) for this but is there not like a law (similar to UK/Euro countries) where there is a regulation in place that you cannot work more than 45 hours a week unless you write a notice to your employer that you wish to opt out "Working Time Directive"? Or is this down purely for each companies to decide.
 

Screamer-RSA

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Lol I guess NRS don't practice what they preach.

"Woman can't wear their old school oufits to a fight, but they sure can work a 100hrs a week!"
 
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Videospel

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At PC Gamer, she also mentions 100-hour weeks that can span several months as they approach important deadlines, and most importantly, the low pay of these many hours of work paid $ 12 an hour for men. , $ 11 for women.

Those salaries sound insane. Imagine how unappreciated you must feel.

By the way, I've seen some suggest hiring more people. More people in a software project quickly lead to very diminishing returns. They should just set more realistic deadlines to start with, but since everyone seems to do the same the baseline of what is normal has shifted.
 

Acidizer

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WTF... who the fuck cares?!

These fucking bottom feeder articles. I know many people who graft like fuck, get paid a pittance and don't complain.

Am I supposed to feel guilty? I bought the game at the weekend... don't know if I supported slavery or validated their hard work.

I played MK X a few times and thought it was abysmal, maybe I didn't get into it enough, but something told me to buy this one... and it's amazing! The Kombat just feels right, very satisfying, it feels very polished... so well done! Those "crunches" paid off.

Toxic work environment? Get a new fucking job. Break away and do your own thing... it's never been easier.

Next we'll be hearing about how Santa Clause gets overworked in December.
 
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Vawn

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I got my degree in computer science to get a career in software programming. I never would have considered a job in the gaming industry for these exact reasons.

The thing is, most of these programmers could pretty easily find another software engineering job that would have better working conditions and much better salaries. Most sacrifice those things because they want to be a part of game creation.
 
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Northeastmonk

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I got my degree in computer science to get a career in software programming. I never would have considered a job in the gaming industry for these exact reasons.

The thing is, most of these programmers could pretty easily find another software engineering job that would have better working conditions and much better salaries. Most sacrifice those things because they want to be a part of game creation.

That's true. I'm from the midwest, so game companies are non existent. I think someone got hired on at Infinity Ward and that was a huge deal. Otherwise people make a decent salary in other tech fields. Its sad, but true. Better benefits, better salaries, more job power, and much more respect. Of course it isn't paradise. The gaming industry only exists in retail if you're looking at the job market. I'm always blown away when people get criticized by big names in the industry. Like how the hell would anyone know what the gaming job market is even like? The people that did well make enough to retire at a pretty young age. While everyone else is basically fighting GameStop ethics. The kind of ethics that base your entire job on magazine subscriptions and pre-orders.

I went to ITT-Tech wanting to get into Game Design and the passion wasn't there. Not only that, but they charged us a fortune. The professors weren't game designers. I can't imagine how it would have been had they actually known something. I was there talking about games everyday and I honestly felt like the last man on earth. I can't even imagine how it really is once you throw "success" into the mix.

Do the higher ups in the gaming industry realize how discouraging it is to find out how shitty it is even after you come from a small town where there is nothing but a GameStop?
 
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nani17

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So we had Rockstar Games with over worked staff doing 100 hour weeks or more.

Bioware staff crying in rooms leaving for mental health issues. Atmosphere was meant to be terrible and depressing at all times and now this.

Not good at all
 
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wvnative

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I've been saying this about predatory MTXs but I'm also noticing it with all these poor work environment stories...

It seems to be just American publishers/developers. Are there any examples of this from either Europeon devs or Japanese devs?
 

mcjmetroid

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WTF... who the fuck cares?!

These fucking bottom feeder articles. I know many people who graft like fuck, get paid a pittance and don't complain.

Am I supposed to feel guilty? I bought the game at the weekend... don't know if I supported slavery or validated their hard work.

I played MK X a few times and thought it was abysmal, maybe I didn't get into it enough, but something told me to buy this one... and it's amazing! The Kombat just feels right, very satisfying, it feels very polished... so well done! Those "crunches" paid off.

Toxic work environment? Get a new fucking job. Break away and do your own thing... it's never been easier.

Next we'll be hearing about how Santa Clause gets overworked in December.

I think these working conditions are important to point out. Especially the low wages and long working hours. It's simply not good enough for people who spent a long time in college studying and are clearly talented people.

HOWEVER

I don't think you should feel guilty for enjoying the content... that's up to yourself. We all enjoy things that are being made by dodgy means whether we know it or not. Who knows where our clothes are made half the time and in what conditions.

Fact is the Microtranactions killed the interest in Mortal Kombat for me. It was never going to be an article like this. I don't have time to worry about this stuff constantly.
 

Sub_Level

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I've been saying this about predatory MTXs but I'm also noticing it with all these poor work environment stories...

It seems to be just American publishers/developers. Are there any examples of this from either Europeon devs or Japanese devs?

Japanese work culture is horrific and is having a physical impact on the sustainability of that country as a whole. Thats a whole other can of worms.

Europeans on the other hand benefit from having more government regulation over companies :messenger_bicep:
 

Simply_Bry

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wow.. Its like slavery is back. They just need to add sexual harassment to the workplace to become hell on earth.
There should be an Union for game devs.
It's not slavery when the victims are white people, only when they are black. Just ask the person who came up with the Jax Briggs Tower ending.
 

Sub_Level

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It's not slavery when the victims are white people, only when they are black. Just ask the person who came up with the Jax Briggs Tower ending.

Working a 100 hour week for a videogame during crunch season is not slavery. Nobody was forcing them to make MK9 lol
 
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Acidizer

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Most companies or industries have "crunch" times. The lead up to 1st April is usually bad for most in the business sector for the new financial year. Where are all the exposés on that? That's every year.

This is just a stupid new trend for bottom feeder articles to generate outrage clicks. The muppets at Kotaku probably have endured the exact same stuff they are writing about when they get dispatched to E3 and the likes, i.e. working the unusual hours the job requires at that moment in time.

I don't feel sorry for crossing a bridge that had deaths in its construction. You can be sure I don't feel guilty for game devs who had to eat microwave dinners to make a deadline.
 
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Silent Duck

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Meanwhile, at Netherrealm Studios...
An employee asks for a few hours off.
 

GrayFoxRJ

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Working a 100 hour week for a videogame during crunch season is not slavery. Nobody was forcing them to make MK9 lol
Obviously they were. Being expected to do something under x circumstances you are not hired for is a kind of black mail. Or you work the amount of time we want or we hire someone else.

Time is money, and when people crunch your time beyond the contracted time, it is slavery. Sorry mate, IRL people have family, children and people they count on. Bills as well.

Sometimes finding a new job or going your own way is not simply as easy as Mises and other shitty anarcocapitalistic groups preach.
 
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Bogey

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Working a 100 hour week for a videogame during crunch season is not slavery. Nobody was forcing them to make MK9 lol

Asking your female colleague to boink you in order to keep her job isn't sedisk either. Nobody is forcing her to, she could just leave.

Feel free to try for yourself if that holds up in any employment tribunal (or court).
 

Sub_Level

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Asking your female colleague to boink you in order to keep her job isn't sedisk either. Nobody is forcing her to, she could just leave.

Feel free to try for yourself if that holds up in any employment tribunal (or court).

I can picture it now. Its busy season and your boss asks you to start staying after 5pm and make plans to work saturdays for the next month or two. You reply that being asked such a thing is akin to being sexually blackmailed. They relent, quickly recognizing the error of their ways. In fact, go ahead and take the rest of the week off. Don't call us, we'll call you.
 

TLZ

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Obviously they were. Being expected to do something under x circumstances you are not hired for is a kind of black mail. Or you work the amount of time we want or we hire someone else.

Time is money, and when people crunch your time beyond the contracted time, it is slavery. Sorry mate, IRL people have family, children and people they count on. Bills as well.

Sometimes finding a new job or going your own way is not simply as easy as Mises and other shitty anarcocapitalistic groups preach.
Some people either have no idea what they're talking about, or they're bullies themselves.
 
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Ozrimandias

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All of these problems tend to get notice, almost at the release or short after of a major release... not long before, not long after.
 
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I've been saying this about predatory MTXs but I'm also noticing it with all these poor work environment stories...

It seems to be just American publishers/developers. Are there any examples of this from either Europeon devs or Japanese devs?

Japanese devs, yes
European Devs... not really. Labor laws are a lot more balanced there.

Most companies or industries have "crunch" times. The lead up to 1st April is usually bad for most in the business sector for the new financial year. Where are all the exposés on that? That's every year.

This is just a stupid new trend for bottom feeder articles to generate outrage clicks. The muppets at Kotaku probably have endured the exact same stuff they are writing about when they get dispatched to E3 and the likes, i.e. working the unusual hours the job requires at that moment in time.

I don't feel sorry for crossing a bridge that had deaths in its construction. You can be sure I don't feel guilty for game devs who had to eat microwave dinners to make a deadline.
That's not enough close to comparable. E3 crunch time is like a 60-70 hour work week for like..... 2 weeks of the year. Its not a 100 hour work week lasting months on end. That shit is insane. That's 14-15 hours per day, every single day, forever. No days off, no weekends.

The "lol get a better job" responses are useless. It excuses the shitass management that leads to 100 hour workweeks as somehow being acceptable, and it reminds me of Newt Gingrich sneering "take a shower and get a job" at people during the midst of the '08 financial crisis.
 

Petrae

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I honestly don’t get why people are throwing their lives away in the video game development sector. Dream job? Based on these allegations and the stories we’ve heard for years? That’s nuts.

You know what the conditions are like before you apply. The stories about crunch, about 12+ hour days and 6-7 day work weeks, have been plentiful. The compensation varies.

It’s not going to magically change while you work there. And unionization isn’t going to be an automatic thing— even if publishers and developer execs cede to it occurring without a fight. Also, once it does occur— will you be ready to go weeks or even months without a paycheck while you strike because your union tells you to?

I’m sorry, but like any other job on the planet— do your research and be absolutely sure that you’re willing to accept what you sign up for. If you don’t like the job you’re in now, take the right steps toward getting the fuck out. If enough people avoid a career path because the working conditions suck as much as alleged and the talent pool is too shallow, that’ll force change a hell of a lot faster than crying in a side room or taking to Twitter to bitch at nobody in particular about it.
 
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v1oz

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Let's just go back to GameCube graphics and be happy with that. I just want different game styles not hyper realistic devil may cry faces.
You’d have to work super hard to get GameCube quality graphics with modern tools. The tools are better and much easier to use but people still crunch like they did in the N64 era when people brought sleeping bags and slept under their desks.
 
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John Day

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I think i know what the answer will be, but... why submit to this kind of work environment? Really, is it just for the “passion” or “love” to the craft?

That’s no way to live.
 

GAMETA

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OK now try working as a freelancer from another country to a US dev/startup... I got paid $20 a day, a day meaning 8 to 12 hours of work.
 

GAMETA

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I think i know what the answer will be, but... why submit to this kind of work environment? Really, is it just for the “passion” or “love” to the craft?

That’s no way to live.

If you took the "art education road" and wasn't born in a rich family there aren't too many options... they say "you're lucky to have this job" and when you look at the amount of people trying to get a job in the field it's actually kind of true...

Too many people after the "dream", companies can shit on their heads and they'll gladly take it. :/
 
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GAMETA

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Poor working conditions, SJWs taking over, too many people on the field, companies looking for the "easy money", generic games, too many indie devs seeking the fame on the next walking simulator with a "touching story" and aestethics...

All that and AI is around the corner, lurking, in some cases already making better and faster "art"

This shit of an industry will collapse once again.
 

A.Romero

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If you took the "art education road" and wasn't born in a rich family there aren't too many options... they say "you're lucky to have this job" and when you look at the amount of people trying to get a job in the field it's actually kind of true...

Too many people after the "dream", companies can shit on their heads and they'll gladly take it. :/

This is the sad truth.

I have contributed to this topic in a similar thread: Devs are not kids in a third world country. They can switch and have a better life. As long as there is a line of candidates waiting for an opportunity, there is no incentive for a company to change it's practices. Specially an industry like games where if the market doesn't like your product, you can lose many millions.

We complain about the price of gaming, expecting to get the best by paying the same price over the years. When companies suplement their income through different strategies we don't like it.

I bet that if games came with a seal reading something like "created by following ethical working standards" and the price was 30% higher, a lot of people wouldn't be willing to pay the price.

If anything, we should be outraged by companies that employ true slaves (like Foxconn, the very same company that was denounced of unfair working practices and that a few years later was signing a deal with the current American administration) or fight for better labour laws in general. Some of the stuff you guys have sounds surreal to people living in other countries.
 
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You’d have to work super hard to get GameCube quality graphics with modern tools. The tools are better and much easier to use but people still crunch like they did in the N64 era when people brought sleeping bags and slept under their desks.
I agree, you would have to work hard to match f zero gx visuals :)

Its more than tools that is an issue.
 

Bogey

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I can picture it now. Its busy season and your boss asks you to start staying after 5pm and make plans to work saturdays for the next month or two. You reply that being asked such a thing is akin to being sexually blackmailed. They relent, quickly recognizing the error of their ways. In fact, go ahead and take the rest of the week off. Don't call us, we'll call you.

Surely, you'll be able to recognize the difference between occasionally working a little longer in unforeseen times of need, compared to continuously crunching at levels highly detrimental to your physical health because your employer is too cheap to hire additional staff, or adjust their planning to realistic targets.

If you don't see the difference - fortunately, the lawmakers in my own country did. The former would be OK in well defined circumstances (and eg with additional pay benefits for Saturday work), or for particularly well paid. The latter would be outright illegal.
 

Rhazer Fusion

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The solution to me seems obvious and that's devs need to simply hire more manpower in order to lighten the workload for each individual employee.

But of course greed runs rampant so they're going to try to get the maximum amount of work out of the least number of employees as they can.

Agreed. It’s really terrible for the workers. Unfortunately this seems to carry over to most companies nowadays. For example, why do stores only have like 2 registers open when there are like 100 people in line? Sadly, it’s all about maximizing profits and saving money no matter the sacrifices.
 
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Mr Nash

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Another Question:
WHY is there no Union for game devs ?

If game developers want to go the organized labor route, they'd probably be better off setting up guilds similar to how Hollywood functions rather than labor unions. There are differences between the two and the former would likely be able to traverse hurdles mentioned by others here that labor unions might stumble over.
 

Acidizer

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That's not enough close to comparable. E3 crunch time is like a 60-70 hour work week for like..... 2 weeks of the year. Its not a 100 hour work week lasting months on end. That shit is insane. That's 14-15 hours per day, every single day, forever. No days off, no weekends.

The "lol get a better job" responses are useless. It excuses the shitass management that leads to 100 hour workweeks as somehow being acceptable, and it reminds me of Newt Gingrich sneering "take a shower and get a job" at people during the midst of the '08 financial crisis.

You seem to be pulling those numbers out your ass, even forgetting the hyperbole "forever". Yeah... no.

The only thing excusing management is the workers who roll over like pussies. And if they stay at the company for the next game they are actively encouraging it.

Their supposed plight has nothing at all to do with people on forums, or even Newt Gingrich - sorry.