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Metroid Dread key art edit by u/manuelx98 on Reddit
Credit: MercurySteam & u/manuelx98 on Reddit

More gaming workplace drama: this time at Metroid Dread studio, Quantic Dream, and Activision Blizzard (again)

John summarises the latest updates in the ongoing saga of gaming workplace drama

As originally reported by Spanish website Vandal, several former employees from Metroid Dread developer MercurySteam have spoken up about not being included in the credits of the final game.

Writing on LinkedIn, 3D artist Roberto Mejías noted that they worked on the title for eight months and “recognised quite a few assets and environments I worked on”. 3D cinematic animator Tania Peñaranda wrote that “[it] saddens me to see that I am not reflected in the credits for this work that I did” and that their animation work is present in the final release.

A spokesperson for MercurySteam told Vandal that, aside from “exceptional contributions”, an employee must have worked on a game for 25 percent of its total development time to be included in the final release’s credits. Since Metroid Dread was in development for approximately three years, a developer would need to have worked on the title for at least nine months to qualify.

Vandal also reported that MercurySteam includes a clause in their employee contracts that requires a notice period of 42 working days, which is well above the 15-day minimum mandated in Spain’s workers’ statute, and that leaving before the 42 day requirement imposes a financial penalty.

Spanish website AnaitGames expanded on this in its own report about the studio and detailed a chaotic development period, credits that fail to include “at least 50 people”, and a culture that frequently punishes workers and exploits a fear of speaking out against one of Spain’s largest game developers.

Translated from Spanish, former employees said that salaries are “very low”, that employees were considered “problematic” for “trying to negotiate their conditions”, and that studio management in response to the pandemic was “total and utter chaos”.

The employees also highlighted MercurySteam’s human resources by claiming that “when you don’t accept what they propose, for example in relation to salary, they take it as an attack, they do not want to discuss salaries, and I know of colleagues who were fired for that”.

Similarly, French developer Quantic Dream has been condemned in court over its decision to terminate an employee in 2017. According to French union Solidaires Informatique, this decision follows a lengthy trial and appeal in which the employee claimed that there was rampant harassment at the studio, such as obscene jokes, homophobic and racist remarks, sexual advances and the distribution of inappropriate photoshopped images of employees. Following the Paris Court of Appeal’s announcement, the former employee released the following statement:

“After years of proceedings, complaints, legal harassment, finally a decision that restores the facts. I am relieved and proud to have held my ground against an attitude that could be described as disloyal, dishonest and intimidating. Nobody is above the law. Good luck and be at peace with your conscience. Here everything is better. Yours sincerely.”

Lastly, the Communication Workers of America (CWA) union has objected to Activision Blizzard’s US$18 million settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)‘s. In its October 12 objection, the CWA states that the proposed settlement “seems woefully inadequate” and “would provide the maximum settlement for only 60 workers”. The  Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has also objected to the case, stating that the settlement and its requirements would destroy its lawsuit against Activision Blizzard.

However, the EEOC subsequently opposed CWA’s opposition and revealed a conflict of interest in which two lawyers involved in the DFEH lawsuit had previously investigated Activision Blizzard for the EEOC. The EEOC then argued that the DFEH’s objection should be thrown out.

This article was originally published on Doublejump. You can support the site by following us on social media, becoming a Patron, and/or purchasing some merchandise!