Working at a AAA developer is not all that it’s cracked up to be, it seems. In the past week, company review website Glassdoor.com has seen an increase in negative reviews from former employees of the Polish game development company CD Projekt Red, many of whom reference poor management, long working days, and “fake goals.”
Studio head Adam Badowski and co-founder Marcin Iwinski have responded to the reviews with a joint statement that doesn’t so much placate as it does shrug off the issue. They explain that the company has doubled in size since 2015, clocking in at some 400 employees – and though management are always seeking to keep those employees happy, the “reinventing the wheel” approach that they take in the development of their games is not for everyone.
The open letter addresses in a roundabout manner some of the finer points mentioned in the Glassdoor reviews: suggesting that the magic happens outside of the comfort zone, Badowski and Iwinski are making no apologies for the unusual (and presumably work-intensive) attitude they adopt during the creative process. The closing statement reads:
“As always, many thanks for being so engaged in what we do. It shows us it’s all worth the hours we put in.”
If that isn’t a subtle dismissal of one of the major complaints under contention, then I don’t know what is.
The gentlemen responsible for CD Projekt Red have neglected to comment on allegations of low pay and misleading targets. In fact, the letter doesn’t really address the core of the problem at all; rather, it highlights the challenge presented by delivering quality AAA titles, and holds close to that age old mantra: if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen.
CD Projekt Red aren’t the only ones dealing with unhappy workers. An ex-employee of Uncharted developer Naughty Dog has come forward this week with allegations of a wholly more shocking sort: in a statement on Twitter, David Ballard has admitted that he was fired from the company after filing a sexual harassment complaint.
Ballard’s statement explains that he “had a mental breakdown at work,” as a result of the “extremely toxic” work environment created in the aftermath of the harassment itself. Sony’s HR department got involved, offering Ballard a substantial sum to leave the company. Of course, what Sony could not have foreseen was the powerful effects of the open floodgate that is currently causing such a stir in Hollywood. In his concluding words, Ballard writes:
“I’m speaking out now because of the strength I’ve seen in others coming forward about their experiences in the TV/Film industry. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I will not let anyone kill my drive or love for the video game industry, my passions or life.”
Naughty Dog have since responded to the allegations, insisting that they could find no evidence of Ballard’s harassment complaint. “Harassment and inappropriate conduct have no place at Naughty Dog,” the statement reads; one can only hope that the situation is resolved to the best interests of both the accuser and the accused, I guess.
Harassment in the workplace is undoubtedly a miserable thing to endure. With any luck, though, the recent revelations at these titans of the gaming industry will force a little light to be shed on any further issues. I expect dog-tired developer employees, at CD Projekt Red or elsewhere, are nodding their heads in a sort of wan agreement right now.