One of the biggest stories in the gaming world at the moment has to be the controversy surrounding L.A. Noire developer Team Bondi, whose employees (and ex-employees) accused them of poor working conditions. In fact, Stephen Johnson from g4tv.com reports that some even described workplace conditions as similar to that of a 21st century sweatshop.
Now it appears that a similar situation has developed with mobile game developer Gameloft. According to a recent article by Tim Colwill over on the games.on.net website, Glenn Watson – the former Head Studio Programmer at Gameloft’s New Zealand site – has revealed what he describes as ‘unacceptable’ and ‘dangerous’ working conditions.
Glenn explains how he would sometimes start work at 9:30am, and wouldn’t end up going home until 2:30am the next morning. He then went on to say that he would sometimes end up returning to the office at 8:30am to start work again. According to Glenn, who began his long career in game development at Ratbag Games in Adelaide, he would sometimes work 100 – 120 hours a week.
It was only after he had worked 4 consecutive weeks of 14 hours days (including weekends) that he finally realised that he needed to resign from his job. It’s not just Glenn that’s accusing Gameloft of ‘poor’ working conditions either, as many of his allegations have been confirmed by other ex-employees.
Glenn says that there were poor performances from employees during his time at the studio, performances that he says was directly caused by the unacceptable working conditions enforced by the developer’s senior management. He recalled one particular week when the team was working overtime in order to get a game ready to demonstrate for Gameloft’s French office.
The former Gameloft employee said that even the most reliable programmers were making mistakes. He explained that it was 11:30 at night and all the team had been there since 8:30am. Glenn said that despite paying a visit to management and explaining that the employees needed to go home, they said that they were needed there as deadlines had to be met.
He even discovered that one of the junior programmers had actually worked for 24 hours straight. However, in an email conversation between Watson and senior management at the Auckland office, the company said claimed that no one is forced to stay there if they don’t want to work over their contracted hours. You can read more about this over on the games.on.net website.
What do you think about these allegations and the allegations made against Team Bondi?