The Great Video Game Exodus

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by Megalith, Jun 3, 2018.

  1. Megalith

    Megalith 24-bit/48kHz Staff Member

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    Gamasutra’s latest piece is a downer for anyone who wants to work in the video game industry. While a handful of anecdotes cannot possibly reflect each and every employee’s experience, the stories here all suggest a workplace environment that is highly toxic, with poor compensation and little stability.

    The problems, from the long working hours, employee churn and burnout, are deeply ingrained and systemic. “The industry has not really figured out how to make it all work properly,” says D’Angelo. “I believe it’s entirely possible to run a fully staffed game studio non-stop, even though labor needs are cyclical in the industry by nature. Right now, however, it’s just become acceptable to get rid of staff.”
     
  2. MacLeod

    MacLeod [H]ardness Supreme

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    It's the same thing that happened to the car audio community I was a part of for a long time. Lots of superb small companies started and ran by enthusiasts that loved it and were devoted to making excellent quality products. Then one by one, they're all bought out by huge corporations that get rid of the high end stuff and dumb it all down to the lowest common denominator.

    Seems like the same is happening in gaming. Bioware and Visceral Studios are just the first 2 that come to mind. Both bought out by EA, consumed then shit out into the toilet.
     
  3. Tiburon1186

    Tiburon1186 Gawd

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    Yep that's why I did automation programming instead.
     
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  4. travisty

    travisty Gawd

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    This is where unions can help.

    In either case it's why i avoided gaming and am now a programmer of business applications
     
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  5. Cyraxx

    Cyraxx 2[H]4U

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    Wrong. That's where free market capitalism comes in - and valuable programmers say "FU" and go to an industry that treats them worth a shit.

    Thus the gaming industry will have 2 choices:
    1) Release shit games that have little success
    2) Raise their hiring practices - increase pay, benefits, and general work treatment.
     
  6. [21CW]killerofall

    [21CW]killerofall Aliens...

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    (read in Gollum's voice) But what about the profits my precious? It's my birthday money and I wants it! I needs it! - EA(or another large publisher)
     
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  7. techie81

    techie81 [H]ard for [H]ardware

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    Sure, if you like to have mediocracy reign. Unions are the complete opposite of what the industry needs.
     
  8. DukenukemX

    DukenukemX [H]ardness Supreme

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    Our current situation is the result of free market capitalism. Most games today are shit games but with great success, and that's because they pray on a quirk in the human mind. Online game with repetitive gameplay? (10/10) Single player game with a battle royal mode? (9/10) Because this generation doesn't know what a good game is, and the industry pumps out so many games that it doesn't matter if the game is good or bad, but that it's current. If you aren't playing the new popular game, then you're behind and people don't like being behind. But this novelty won't last cause at some point people realize it's a shitty game that preys on your brains reward center.

    We as Americans and Europeans don't pay attention to who makes the games, and it makes it easy for publishers to swap workers around like a deck of cards. Look at what happened with Hideo Kojima when he was given an award for Metal Gear Solid V. Konami literally denied him that reward, because they don't him to be the face of the Metal Gear series. MGSV isn't even a complete game as there was suppose to be a big final boss fight that was never put into the game and you can see this cause at some point the game just stops existing. Obviously Konami and Kojima had issues with him finishing the game. The free market allows this cause nobody really knows who makes the games. John Carmack, we know. Miyamoto we know. How many game designers you know without the need to Google a credits list?

    dyigNkN.png

     
  9. lostin3d

    lostin3d [H]ard|Gawd

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    I still buy AAA big budget games but mainly because of they're usually the ones with the best eye candy or most advanced features. Every now and then a great franchise emerges or reaches the next level(Witcher or GTA or Crysis). The hardest part is always hearing the stories after about the closing of a studio, staff not getting paid, and other horrible things. There's far too many of those stories.

    I've tried to get into some larger indi projects. I've got around 2 dozen of them form Steam. Things like Sub-Nautica, CAT Intestellar, Solus Project, Pillars of Eternity, No Man's, and most recently KCD and now Conan Exiles. Hearing good things about RAFT. Some really grow and shine. Some just resemble a polished turd even after many patches. Point is I try to give them a chance in hopes of not just a good gaming experience but also that more of the purchase price makes it thru to the smaller teams.

    Often wonder how many execs, lawyers, and various management people in the gaming industry had some ties in the music industry. So much that has happened there in the 50's-70's that seemed to seamlessly transition over to the gaming industry from the 80's to now.
     
  10. lostin3d

    lostin3d [H]ard|Gawd

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    Just going to add that these exodus's can be a good thing. Potentially the value of these hard working people will be realized when the higher ups can't make their deadlines and lose out on the proverbial cash cows.
     
  11. Cyraxx

    Cyraxx 2[H]4U

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    Maybe - I don't know but I kinda disagree. I find it rather easy to tell. But I can't say I'm an expert since I'm rather out of the gaming loop ever since I became employed and became a dad. My time = non existent.

    But for example, back when I had time for a console. Rar will always stand out to me because games like Banjo Kazooie, Perfect Dark, Conkers, and Donkey Kong were all awesome. Nintendo with their awesome mario games - Nintendo + Capcom for Zelda (+ Countless others)

    Same with Blizzard Entertainment - though even I will admit their quality seems to be going down recently... Mostly because all they seem to do is copy other successful games (e.g. Heroes of the Storm = DOTA, Overwatch = Team Fortress)
     
  12. nomu

    nomu Gawd

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    Visceral was never independent. They spent their entire history making EA's yearly titles and licensed games. Then they came up with Dead Space (after years refining the pitch and concept), it was successful for a little while, then petered out.

    Obviously that still means EA is at the root of the problem. But the problem isn't that the huge corporation can't generate an excellent quality product from within, it's that an excellent quality product can't consistently deliver what EA wants it to, and eventually they stop making them. Or else they only make them on accident.
     
  13. bos

    bos Limp Gawd

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    So...like every other industry. India and China are calling.
     
  14. seanreisk

    seanreisk [H]ard|Gawd

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    Several of my college friends broke into the gaming industry but only one of them stayed more than five years. Too much work, too many long hours. One friend worked for EA Seattle on Need For Speed II and NSF Hot Pursuit, and he talked about nights where people from the support staff would walk through taking orders for Chinese food because no one was going home before midnight.

    The friend who stayed said you had to treat it like Hollywood - unless you work for a really big studio no one has a job after the movie is in the can. He's happy with it, he shuffles from title to title and occasionally to a movie (where the money is better). He has a computer science degree, but he's moved from the code side of things and now does set layout, lighting, textures and fitment.

    It helps that he's fast, he comes with his own libraries that he can lease, and he works for contractor pay, not employee pay.
     
  15. WhoBeDaPlaya

    WhoBeDaPlaya 2[H]4U

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    Origin, Westwood, Bullfrog, Maxis. EA is the Microsoft of the gaming world.
     
  16. MacLeod

    MacLeod [H]ardness Supreme

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    And they don't have to be and that's what is so infuriating!!!

    They buy Bioware for the games they're making, they're talent and vision. Why do they insist on changing everything, over-controlling everything and then running that talented team out of town? I can't comprehend the thought process behind that.

    It's like a guy owns an NFL team and hires a great coach then proceeds to control all the play calling and game planning. Robert Craft hired Bill Belichick, told him he wanted to win Super Bowls then got the hell out of his way. Same with Seattle and Pete Carol and most other teams....except Jerry Jones of the Cowboys who only hires coaches he can control and who hasn't won shit in forever.
     
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  17. ZLoth

    ZLoth Gawd

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    What they are describe happening in the game industry might as well apply to IT and to working in the past ten years. Everything has been metricized, and when management has the mantra of "increase profits, reduce costs", and IT is considered a cost that must be reduced, that's bad.

    I have a buddy who works for another company in IT (and not game development). He is currently having to work 48 hour weeks (Mondays-Fridays) PLUS alternating weekends. Several people, including managers, have left this project already. He has to get up at 3 AM to be at work at 5 AM, leave at 5 PM, gets home at 5:45 PM (the bridge he crosses is notoriously congested), and has to be in bed by 7 PM. Rinse repeat. Personal life? HA! He has a trip scheduled in September with non-refundable airline tickets, but the vacation time can't even be applied for until 90 days prior.... and may not be approved.

    If the good talent leaves, and potential new talent are scared away by stories like this, are we going to see yet another big game crash?
     
  18. WhoBeDaPlaya

    WhoBeDaPlaya 2[H]4U

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    No idea, but this is a pattern that EA has repeated since time immemorial.
     
  19. Flogger23m

    Flogger23m [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Not really.

    Ironically this is driven largely by left leaning folks who want to use games as a medium for punishing right or right of center thinking. Take Polygon and the Far Cry 5 review. Essentially they lowered the score to a 6.5 out of 10 because it didn't outright make Republicans the bad guys.

    Don't get me wrong I think Far Cry 5 was sub par compared to FC3 and 4, but I wouldn't want to be forced to work on a game that has to drive some political agenda, such as what EA & DICE are doing with BF5 to cover up their micro transaction scheme.

    Recognition is good, but games are centered around the experience and not worshipping of idiots like movie starts or celebrities. I wouldn't mind seeing more recognition, but games are big projects with 60-200 people working on some of them. Movies are the same but only the actors and directors get any recognition. We don't need another group of celebrities for people to obsess over and cross over into group think territory.

    Ironically that is the result of strong government regulation. In Japan it is practically impossible to fire employees even if they are under performing. Hence why Konami shifted people around to lower end positions, to shame them and make them miserable enough to quit on their own terms.

    While Konami still sucks clearly Kojima had problems finishing the game. His vision wasn't that great either. MGSV gameplay wise was lacking, cut scene wise was lacking, the story was fairly incoherent and I doubt the proper ending would have finished it up.
     
  20. ZLoth

    ZLoth Gawd

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    Then, explain the Cleveland Browns who currently have a losing steak of seventeen regular season games, and who now hold the title of longest active NFL playoff drought. The only other team to have a playoff drought starting last decade was the Bucs (2007).

    And this concludes my latest extremely feeble attempt to care about the No Fun League.
     
  21. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    I'm honestly surprised that this is a surprise to anyone. For decades there has literally been one article after another about how absolutely horrific the games industry is to work in. Are our memories that short?
     
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  22. toast0

    toast0 Gawd

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    Yeah, but somehow new college grads still show up to get their souls crushed at all these places. Working for internet companies crushes your soul too, but at least the compensation is good. :)
     
  23. DukenukemX

    DukenukemX [H]ardness Supreme

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    This is the same problem you'll see with the TV/movie industry. I remember that in the early 2000's the writers were basically fired cause they wanted more pay and recognition, and this is what kicked off all those game shows that we all hate. Without good writers you get the new Solo Star Wars movie, but if you have good writers you get Avengers Infinity War. But for the most part the writer of the show/movie is just a footnote in the credits. Stan Lee isn't the writer of the script of the movie, but he is the creator of the characters used, and he always makes a cameo in the movies.
    I don't know what happened to Rare, cause up until Microsoft purchased them, they produced gold every time. But if I had to guess, I would say that Microsoft didn't get everyone that worked at Rare. More than likely there was one or two people who really organized the company and they basically took off leaving behind the worker bees that did a good job but didn't know how to design a fun game. Earthworm Jim for example was sold to Interplay and David Parry wasn't involved in the creation of Earthworm Jim 3D. David Perry was the creator of Earthworm Jim. Not hard to see why that franchise flopped.


    Blizzard isn't focused on making good games, but making good looking games that have a lot of grindy elements to them. Plus, I'm sure Blizzard will never create a new single player game. I know that Blizzard has a lot of developers who have degrees that revolve around human psychology. Greg Street aka (Ghostcrawler) was very insightful in how Blizzard worked internally and you can see that Blizzard went from making a fun game to a game that catered to grandma's who wanted to tank. Let me put it like this, Blizzards developers know you better than you do, hence why they created loot crates in Overwatch.

    Most of the original WoW developers that made the original game, left Blizzard fairly early of the games history. A lot of them went off to make League of Legends. Sounds like Blizzard didn't see eye to eye with those developers.
     
  24. jnemesh

    jnemesh [H]ard|Gawd

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    It's almost as if some kind of "union" was needed to help the actual creators of the content collectively bargain with the management.
     
  25. IndyColtsFan

    IndyColtsFan Limp Gawd

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    Well, I guess the idiot MBAs running those companies should be reading “Game Programming for Dummies” since they may be the only ones left to do that work.
     
  26. JR688755

    JR688755 n00b

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    I will never forget how EA destroyed my beloved Westwood Studios. Dang I am getting old.
     
  27. yourgrandma

    yourgrandma [H]ard|Gawd

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    3) Out source everything or open studios where they can get away with paying them cheaper wages and still treat them shit. Like ubisoft has done with new studios in ukraine, india and philippines.
     
  28. IndyColtsFan

    IndyColtsFan Limp Gawd

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    I’m really old then, because I can remember when EA was the young upstart and published games people actually wanted.
     
  29. singe_101

    singe_101 2[H]4U

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    The company that made Starcraft and the map editor for Aeon of Strife, hosted all the games, etc. paved the way for Heroes of the Storm.
     
  30. HorseproofBacon

    HorseproofBacon Limp Gawd

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    "highly toxic, with poor compensation"

    Sounds like my current job. Only difference is it's stable because the boss cannot afford to lose anybody right now lol.
     
  31. katanaD

    katanaD [H]ard|Gawd

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    While the games industry is an extreme example, IT in general can be a real meat grinder. which always makes me chuckle when you read those stories about why there isnt more women in IT. LOL thats an easy one.. they are not that stupid. IT requires CONSTANT learning of new things, and in exchange for all the hard work.. your generally treated worse then the janitor.
     
  32. singe_101

    singe_101 2[H]4U

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    There can be good additions to a game without hiring people or stress. Marketplace? People who make skins for DotA 2 aren't Valve employees but they can make some money.
     
  33. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    The way I think of it is the same way I think of pursuing a career in photography.

    I used to have a huge photography hobby, and in the forums there were always professional photographers whining about how people were giving away their work for free, making it difficult for them to find work.

    My thought process when I heard this was, maybe it isn't such a good idea to try to make a profession out of something that people find fun enough that they would do it as a hobby, for free?

    Some with games. Games are fun. Many people develop them as a hobby. So what's going to happen?

    1.) Talent supply vs. demand isn't going to work in your favor. People find games fun, so there are going to be more applicants, resulting in lower compensation than other work requiring similar skillsets, and/or terrible work conditions, as employees are more expendable than in other industries.

    2.) Work is likely to be less interesting and more grueling, as everyone wants to do the fun stuff, so the only stuff that is really going to pay are the aspect of game development no one wants to do.

    I know people say to follow your passion, and do what you love, but unless you have an unusual passion that about a million other people are going to be following as well, it is probably just better to settle for a career that makes decent money that you don't hate, and focus on your passions in life on your free time.
     
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  34. Todd Walter

    Todd Walter Gawd

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    The early '80s, yes you are old! :) You may (or may not, due to age) remember a little game in '92 called "Ultima 7" which was an allegory about just how much EA sucked. Trip Hawkins isn't a nice person.
     
  35. DukenukemX

    DukenukemX [H]ardness Supreme

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    Most people who play games like Fortnite and PUBG are probably in their teens or early twenties, and they don't care about politics as much. They play these games cause their friends play these games, and they play them cause it's new. The game isn't necessarily good, just popular and new.

    True but on the flip side a game developer would never be the same thing as a movie celebrity. Recognition is good cause you can at least follow the creator or creators to ensure the same consistent quality is held. When Blizzard makes a bad decision we blame the company and not the individual for these bad decisions. Might as well blame it on God at this point.

    I don't see how strong government regulation is responsible for Konami being assholes? They did fire Kojima, though I wouldn't say he under performed considering how well MGSV did. Metal Gear Survive though just flat out sucks, and that's without Kojima. There are laws to prevent that, for a good reason, but no reason was given for Kojima.


    Without knowing the details, nobody can say. But when a game is unfinished it is probably due to a lack of money, which I think is the reason why Konami probably had issues with Kojima since he seems to be more of a perfectionist. They decided to fire him, and they made a new Metal Gear game without him, and it's their fault the new game is terrible. That's as free market as it gets.