Awful videogame companies
A rotten industry
Reply
I know this one has been simmering for a while but I think we're at the point now where the weight of evidence has become undeniable, and we need to realise that the videogame industry is rotten.

The report that's finally tipped me over into posting this is the latest Jim Sterling video, where he lifts the lid on a dreadful culture of abuse (sexual and otherwise), exploitation, and bullying at Rockstar, alongside the awful life-destroying crunch that we already knew about. (By the end of the video one is forced to reach the unedifying conclusion that a lot of characters in Rockstar games may actually be based on their real executives.)

It's not just Rockstar of course, it seems to be pretty much standard issue in the Triple AAA gaming space, with Epic, Bioware, Nether Realms, Riot Games and Telltale all being recently called out amongst others, and many more stones yet to be unturned. (Abuse, constant crunch, overwork, sexism, bullying, etc. Physical and mental breakdown on the part of the staff. It's always the same pattern.)

This is before you get started on companies laying off hundreds of non-unionised workers whilst reporting record profits to keep shareholders happy. (Activision-Blizzard most recently doing this.)

It's awkward of course, when your absolute favourite thing to do is play videogames. I'm boycotting Epic (and by extension the Epic Store, I'll wait for Borderlands 3 until it's on Steam), and I won't be buying any more of Rockstar's stuff either. But I guess the time will come when my ethics will collide with the reality of buying something I really want off an awful company, cross that bridge when I get to it I suppose.

Honestly though, this shit is seriously taking the shine off my favourite hobby. I always liked to think that the games I love so much were being made by teams of people who enjoyed what they were doing, who were well treated and respected, and worked in an environment that valued their wellbeing, along with their mental and physical health.

Instead it looks like an awful lot of the time they're treated like absolute shit in an industry run by, and for the benefit of, abusive horrible dickheads.

Looks like Valve's on the list too, so that's Steam out. Now what?

https://www.denofgeek.com/us/games/valv ... te-culture
Gearbox are 100% on that list, so that’s Borderlands 3 out entirely.
Question though. How many of the workers at Rockstar do you imagine would thank you for not buying the game they made? If no-one had bought RDR2, would those workers be better or worse off?
Doctor Glyndwr wrote:
Question though. How many of the workers at Rockstar do you imagine would thank you for not buying the game they made? If no-one had bought RDR2, would those workers be better or worse off?

They wouldn't thank you. Unsurprisingly, going through all that shit, you tend to take pride in what you've made.
Doctor Glyndwr wrote:
Question though. How many of the workers at Rockstar do you imagine would thank you for not buying the game they made? If no-one had bought RDR2, would those workers be better or worse off?

But how different is that argument from ‘but if I don’t buy those sweatshop trainers/footballs sewn by 5 year olds/ Primark anything then those people won’t have jobs’?
Doctor Glyndwr wrote:
Question though. How many of the workers at Rockstar do you imagine would thank you for not buying the game they made? If no-one had bought RDR2, would those workers be better or worse off?

Not sure I can get on board with that line of reasoning really. You could use that to justify buying goods produced by any means, right down to actual slave labour. Ultimately if stories like this damage sales then surely it might prompt reform.

edit: What mimi said.
Cras wrote:
Looks like Valve's on the list too, so that's Steam out. Now what?


Doctor Glyndwr wrote:
Gearbox are 100% on that list, so that’s Borderlands 3 out entirely.


But that's entirely missing the point, and entirely my point (if that's not too much of a contortion).

It's not a case of 'Ha ha but Steam are shit too so now you're stuck!'

or

'Gearbox are crap, so no Borderlands 3 for you sucker!'

The issue here that it is increasingly looking endemic across the entire industry. Abuse, bullying, exploitation, sexism, overwork, a culture of fear and harassment, where employees feel compelled to push themselves past physical and mental breaking points, to the massive detriment of their health, and their relationships with their friends and families.

There's the story of Epic senior management literally saying, 'just get more bodies' as their staff were burning out on the constant Fortnite crunch. Contractors were brought in on a conveyor belt and burned to a crisp with overwork, when they could no longer function they were discarded and the order went out to 'get more bodies'.

It's so wrong, it's so fucked, and as a videogamer I need to ask myself how much money I'm prepared to siphon into an industry that treats human beings like this.
I'm not questioning the original concept, you're absolutely right the industry is fucking disgusting.

But you've chosen to protest by complete arbitrary half boycotts which makes little sense
I wasn't suggesting it was the 'perfect boycott', or that it'll make any difference, or even makes any sense. My interest is more around the dreadful issues that the videogame industry has with employee abuse and exploitation.

And the thing is, it's not even like they're not making fucking boatloads of cash. Acti-Blizz made record profits last year but sacked 800 people off the back of it to enhance shareholder value, because 'expectations' weren't met. It's the same 'infinite growth' model that we see in so any other business models, that by definition is always going to fail at some point, and it's the little guys who get the kicking.
It’s common in most industries not just our beloved video games, we’ve probably all worked for companies that have asked you to spend 90 seconds kicking radioactive graphite off a roof in your socks.
It sounds like you just hate unfettered hypercapitalism.

Which is correct, of course.
I stopped drinking Coke products for a fair while after learning about their irritating little habits of destroying the water supply for an entire community or killing workers who were in unions. A little further into the rabbit hole I realised I really shouldn't be drinking Pepsi either. And I certainly shouldn't be drinking alcohol. And if I was, I shouldn't be buying it from a supermarket.

Then I climbed out of the rabbit hole again.
Hearthly wrote:
I wasn't suggesting it was the 'perfect boycott', or that it'll make any difference, or even makes any sense. My interest is more around the dreadful issues that the videogame industry has with employee abuse and exploitation.

And the thing is, it's not even like they're not making fucking boatloads of cash. Acti-Blizz made record profits last year but sacked 800 people off the back of it to enhance shareholder value, because 'expectations' weren't met. It's the same 'infinite growth' model that we see in so any other business models, that by definition is always going to fail at some point, and it's the little guys who get the kicking.


Well, my point is that you said this

Quote:
It's awkward of course, when your absolute favourite thing to do is play videogames. I'm boycotting Epic (and by extension the Epic Store, I'll wait for Borderlands 3 until it's on Steam), and I won't be buying any more of Rockstar's stuff either. But I guess the time will come when my ethics will collide with the reality of buying something I really want off an awful company, cross that bridge when I get to it I suppose.


You've come to it already, with Steam. So now what? Short of boycotting the industry wholesale what's the viable path of action to take?
Mimi wrote:
Doctor Glyndwr wrote:
Question though. How many of the workers at Rockstar do you imagine would thank you for not buying the game they made? If no-one had bought RDR2, would those workers be better or worse off?

But how different is that argument from ‘but if I don’t buy those sweatshop trainers/footballs sewn by 5 year olds/ Primark anything then those people won’t have jobs’?
C'mon. Software engineers and graphics artists and producers and other games developer employees have a wealth of career options and a much more comfortable life than kids in third-world sweatshops, and frankly I think it diminishes the awfulness of sweatshops to make that comparison at all. There are non-exploitative games companies. There are not non-exploitative sweatshops.
So why do so many of them put up with it then? Why are they only talking on condition of anonymity? If it's so easy to find something else, why don't they just do that?

The fear that's repeatedly expressed is that if they speak out or make waves, they'll be blacklisted by the entire industry, which suggests that a substantial percentage of it behaves as a single bad actor.
Cras wrote:
You've come to it already, with Steam. So now what? Short of boycotting the industry wholesale what's the viable path of action to take?


Far more MAME and Fruit Machine Emulation I suppose, and smaller indie games or games from better behaved 'AA' developers perhaps.

I dunno, I just genuinely feel icky at the thought of giving Rockstar and their ilk any more money.
Doctor Glyndwr wrote:
Mimi wrote:
Doctor Glyndwr wrote:
Question though. How many of the workers at Rockstar do you imagine would thank you for not buying the game they made? If no-one had bought RDR2, would those workers be better or worse off?

But how different is that argument from ‘but if I don’t buy those sweatshop trainers/footballs sewn by 5 year olds/ Primark anything then those people won’t have jobs’?
C'mon. Software engineers and graphics artists and producers and other games developer employees have a wealth of career options and a much more comfortable life than kids in third-world sweatshops, and frankly I think it diminishes the awfulness of sweatshops to make that comparison at all. There are non-exploitative games companies. There are not non-exploitative sweatshops.

But there are non-exploitative factories. There are ethical clothes producers. A morally corrupt vs ethical games company is not the same as a sweatshop vs sweatshop when non-sweatshop producers exist. And this isn’t about levels of ‘bad’, more that you’re making an argument that the job exists because of the demand that consumers drive. Saying they’d be worse off for not having the job is the same argument as saying those people who work in (other) terrible conditions would be worse off if they had no job at all.

It makes even less sense in the games example as you yourself have just said that the jobs aren’t critical to livelihood as these workers would have a wealth of other employment options, which makes a boycott of the morally bankrupt ones even more viable, as by that reckoning the workers can earn elsewhere.
markg wrote:
Doctor Glyndwr wrote:
Question though. How many of the workers at Rockstar do you imagine would thank you for not buying the game they made? If no-one had bought RDR2, would those workers be better or worse off?

Not sure I can get on board with that line of reasoning really. You could use that to justify buying goods produced by any means, right down to actual slave labour. Ultimately if stories like this damage sales then surely it might prompt reform.

edit: What mimi said.

Basically, :this:.

It’s a flawed justification, whatever level you’re using it at. Saying ‘these guys aren’t suffering as much as those other people’, whilst people are reporting the life-changing breakdowns and ruination of their family lives they’ve had whilst working to these conditions doesn’t really tell of how easy it is to explore that wealth of other job opportunities.
I type all my games in from code in the back of magazines that I borrow from the library, only after I've made sure that the magazine employees are all unpaid volunteers that do it for love, not money.
Trooper wrote:
I type all my games in from code in the back of magazines that I borrow from the library, only after I've made sure that the magazine employees are all unpaid volunteers that do it for love, not money.

Fuck the librarians, I guess?

You monster.
Lol, you jest. We all know that librarians don’t exist any more. Or libraries.
NervousPete was caught up in the decimation?!
Grim... wrote:
NervousPete was caught up in the decimation?!

Rest In Pete.
Mimi wrote:
Grim... wrote:
NervousPete was caught up in the decimation?!

Rest In Pete.


I got Dewey eyed.
What I want to post here is a short documentary thing about Iron Galaxies (Dave Lang / Adam Boyes) where they basically started things up by saying 'no' crunch / and not doing the things other AAA companies were doing by hiring and sacking people

I'll need to try and find it somewhere (its probably either a noclip or a clothmap thing)

A lot of its covered here - but I'm sure I've watched / listen to him go through it

https://twitter.com/josephjbroni/status ... 9304747010


Borgo Brewing has a child labour policy
CODBLOPS4 goes further down the pay-to-win rabbit hole. This is an online PVP FPS shooter, a full price game with a full price season pass, with multiple tiers of monetisation that includes straight P2W lootbox mechanics. It's recently just added new guns to the weapon pool that can only be acquired via loot boxes.

Aside from the crappy monetisation stuff, as someone who doesn't really play those kind of games, the screenshots in that video just come across as bizarre - why are there so many confusing little addons to a game now? And why do all the players look so ridiculous? Occasionally I get the urge to play an FPS game, but I just wouldn't go near stuff like this now.

I realise I just sound old :)
I don't see any innovation any more. Maybe it's there, maybe it's limited to genres I don't have any interest in. But yeah, I remember when you could find things in games you'd never seen before. It's that bad right now that they are remaking 20+ year old games because they really can't come up with any new ideas. Such a shame.

The movie industry was like that for quite a long time too. It has been nice to see things like Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocket Man.

I'd love to fire up something genuinely new and exciting. I know I still have the passion, but nothing makes me want to play it for more than 5 mins before I just give up and stare at the internet.
JohnCoffey wrote:
I don't see any innovation any more. Maybe it's there, maybe it's limited to genres I don't have any interest in. But yeah, I remember when you could find things in games you'd never seen before. It's that bad right now that they are remaking 20+ year old games because they really can't come up with any new ideas. Such a shame.

The movie industry was like that for quite a long time too. It has been nice to see things like Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocket Man.

Biopics are hardly a new idea.
The developers of Shenmue 3 have announced that the game will be an Epic store exclusive on the PC.

This has caused uproar with those that have Kickstarted the game and were promised Steam keys as one of their rewards.

Should be interesting how it pans out as a lot of comments on the Kickstarter page are asking for refunds.
I'd only be interested in Shenmue 3 if it comes with the Joans texture-pack mod
https://twitter.com/NinWire/status/1138558939031887873


TheVision wrote:
The developers of Shenmue 3 have announced that the game will be an Epic store exclusive on the PC.

This has caused uproar with those that have Kickstarted the game and were promised Steam keys as one of their rewards.

Should be interesting how it pans out as a lot of comments on the Kickstarter page are asking for refunds.


If it's anything like Phoenix Point (XCOM-style game that was Kickstarted) the devs will literally just say "Epic gave us enough money we could refund everyone on Kickstarter and still be in the black".. so I doubt anything will change.
zaphod79 wrote:
https://twitter.com/NinWire/status/1138558939031887873

Yeah, much as I want to play this game yesterday, I am glad it won’t be rushed and released before it’s ready. I mean, I really, really hoped it’d be out in September, suspected November, and my heart sank when it said March next year, but a delayed great game is better than a rushed, unfinished game made under unfair pressure.
Nice video from Jim Sterling on the Animal Crossing delay.

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