Welcome to the ZTGD Reviewer Rodeo. Each week, we’ll grab on to the hottest issue, hold on for dear life, and wrassle it to the ground.
As you may have heard, Rockstar has parted ways with Team Bondi after credible reports of years of excessive “crunch time” working conditions (12 hour or longer days, 7 days each week), abusive leadership, and over 100 individuals uncredited. With the dirty details of working conditions at Team Bondi now revealed, would you purchase another Team Bondi game with the same leadership in place?
John “Dubya” Whitehouse
It’s a real sad day when staff comes out against their employers, but this seems totally justified. Of course, we are not privy to the full details of the situation, but with the management being investigates, hundreds of names taken off the game’s credits and Rockstar disowning them, it is clear all is not well.
It has been alleged that the working conditions under Team Bondi’s CEO, Brendan McNamara, have been horrendous; with Brendan verbally abusing staff, unreasonable working hours and impossible deadlines. One of TB’s staff has even come out and praised Rockstar for their involvement in making LA Noire happen saying that without them, Team Bondi would have gone under years ago. Now, most of us agree that LA Noire is something of a masterpiece, but do we really know how much of the finished version was what Brendan McNamara had envisioned? He has come out slamming Rockstar for interfering and Rockstar, in turn, have announced that they will never publish another Team Bondi game (amazing considering that Rockstar originally wanted to bring them in to the fold and turn them in to Rockstar Sydney).
This could well bring the end of Team Bondi, especially if the allegations against Mr. McNamara turn out to be true. There will be very few publishers who will want to back any project headed by a thug and bully. As for me playing another Team Bondi game? No, whilst someone who has no respect for the people who actually make the game controls it, I will not support them. I will continue to get the LA Noire DLC, but only because I have already brought the pass.
All I hope is that someone (maybe Rockstar themselves) will take all of the talent from that studio and start up a new development company, leaving Mr. McNamara in the cold.
Drew “Frustrated Fury” Leachman
I’m going be the bad guy here and say, as long as the game is good, I’ll buy it. The way the employees were treated didn’t affect me at all. I’m not the kind of guy who boycotts a game or product just because they treat their employees bad. Hell, my employer treats me like crap, but I don’t expect anyone out there to boycott my company for it. Truth be told, if you don’t like your working conditions, by all means, quit your job and find something better. The managers and owners of the company know what they are doing. They must know, because LA Noire was on hell of a game. Who knows? Maybe it wouldn’t have turned out the way it did if it weren’t for the work conditions. After all, if they were working so hard on the game, why did it take almost 6 years for it to finally come out? I think the employees may be embellishing some on the details.
Michael “Red Pen of Doom” Futter
I’ll be honest and say that I’d be torn if the next game turns out to be a stellar title. When the similar allegations of abusive working conditions came out about EA years ago, the Internet exploded, condemning the publishing giant. Whether the reason was a drop in sales or simply unfavorable public perception, EA turned things around in more ways than one (including a settlement of over $30 million in unpaid overtime). They aren’t the bad guy in the industry anymore (that title has been taken over by Activision) and over quality of EA-published games have gone up significantly.
Whether you believe that the working conditions improved the game or not is immaterial. There are industry regulations agreed upon by all members of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA). An investigation is underway to determine the veracity of the claims and, should they be substantiated, the evidence could be used in a court of law. Team Bondi could find themselves on the receiving end of a class action lawsuit and financially liable to every undercompensated and uncredited individual that worked on the game.
I can’t promise I won’t buy the next Team Bondi game, even knowing all of this. I also can’t promise that I won’t buy it used, though.
That’s all for this edition of the ZTGD Reviewer Rodeo. Join us next week as we grab onto another bucking bronco of controversy and beat it into submission.
Got questions or comments? Drop ’em in the comment section below or hit us up via email. Suggestions for Reviewer Rodeo topics that you want our opinions on? Hit Mike up at [email protected].