Crysis 2 dev denies quality-of-life complaints

Crytek cofounder addresses ex-employee lawsuits, allegations that it treats staff as "disposable pieces of meat to be discarded at will."

Quality-of-life issues are a long-standing sore point for those working in the game industry. In years past, Electronic Arts, Rockstar San Diego, and Team Bondi have all had their reputations hurt by anonymous whistleblowers going public with allegations of unreasonable demands and working conditions. Crytek was added to the list last week, as a Tumblr blog titled "hire and fire crytek" accused the developer of treating its employees "as disposable pieces of meat to be discarded at will."

Crytek is taking heat from ex-employees.

The blog described a deteriorating atmosphere in the Frankfurt studio responsible for Crysis 2, saying management had been unlawfully firing employees and forcing out senior employees who they thought could be capably replaced by cheaper, less experienced talent. The blog also said former employees have successfully sued the company "and won settlements."

Crytek cofounder Avni Yerli addressed the claims in an interview with Develop yesterday, calling them "completely misleading."

"One thing that will always be the same is that Crytek respects and values its employees very highly, and equally--that's very important. Whether it's an intern, whether it's a director, it doesn't change; everyone is important," Yerli said, adding, "It is very distressing for us to think that an individual thinks we have been treating them unfairly. It's very disappointing."

As for the legal settlements, Yerli questioned who came out ahead in the deals and dismissed their existence as evidence of wrongdoing.

"Well in Germany it is common sense, if you release someone, sometimes they get bad legal advice and basically think they can make unreasonable requests like huge severance packages," Yerli said. "What we offered them they clearly didn't like but it was more than legally required. So they go to court and ask for much more, but in the end they end up getting less or what we offered in the first place, and just go through the pain [of the whole legal process]. 'Won' the lawsuits isn't the right term. I don't want to make glory out of this. We are not proud of 'winning.' This is something sad that happened between us and people we used to work with. We haven't been found to have unlawfully fired these people, but we don't want to go to court with our co-workers either."

For more on the company's latest project, check out GameSpot's review of Crysis 2.

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Discussion

145 comments
RefuGeelas1983
RefuGeelas1983

Darn shame even with all that money they're making they still cant see eye to eye. Excellence and hard work should be awarded, the better you do you're job the more you should get paid. Than again money is the root to all evil, greedy they have become.

bigtruckseries
bigtruckseries

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guitardylan
guitardylan

Yeah this type of thing is par for the course at thousands of companies around the US. The company I'm with here in Texas does all of the above as well as require you to work overtime and never get paid for it either. They tell you to "COMP" your overtime hours but you can never actually add them in to your checks over time... Totally illegal and whistle blowers have just been fired and never paid what theyre owed. You know what they say about A$$holes.....

Skyflier
Skyflier

I HATED working as a programmer in the insurance industry. So, I quit. I started my own company, and I've never looked back. If anybody tells you, "You can't..." don't believe them. Believe in yourself and do your own thing. You'll never work another day in your life.

amiman23
amiman23

If you plan on having a carrier in any type of art studio such as games or animation, you have to know that you're going to have to work hard and once your done on one job you better have the next one ready. If you're really good at what you do, your either going to have a great reputation and be in demand and if you're really lucky you'll get a full time position. If you're really good and smart you'll startup your own company and be successful. No studio has the money to support you once the job is over unless you a major player. These people who sued will likely never get hired again. I'll put my money on the studio's story.

cjtopspin
cjtopspin

Videogame companies seem like the modern era salt mines...I am not sure if there is a single videogame company out there that treats its employees well.

DKant
DKant

I believe him. Believe it or not the "small guy" isn't always right, or the hero. Sometimes people get petty, and stuff like this happens. That said poor working conditions are a given. Games are hard to make. Heck simple software is hard to make, leave alone games. But there's a difference between working passionately on a game day and night, versus doing it because it's your job. And there's a difference between a team pushing to make something great, versus corporate handing down a deadline. Unfortunately, for big games, (and just big projects in general) the latter tends to happen a lot. People really underestimate the value of a company being small and just really driven, versus having a thousand people to do the same job.

KrazzyDJ
KrazzyDJ

News like this makes me (sadly) think that I'm better off playing games than making them !!!

BoabDreeps
BoabDreeps

Poor babies! What was wrong, not enough vintage arcade cabinets and chill out areas in the office? Same rules apply to everyone else with a job. 'If you don't like it, then leave."

aremef01
aremef01

Ever hear of term " biting the hand that feeds"? Well I hope Crytek won't break the chefs that cooked the broth.

stevo367
stevo367

Welcome to the corporate world. The gaming industry is no different from any other corporate run industry where employees are merely cattle, ready to be slaughtered at the company whim. This is life in today's world. If you work for the man then you are a robot, period. Having your dignity stripped and your soul crushed is just business as usual.

ohdammit
ohdammit

looks like the "creative" industry might become the next sweatshop industry. modern form of how textile workers used to have it... i wonder when the first huge work farm will burn down with all the expandable human resources locked inside... well... it doesn't have to be EXACTLY something like that, would be bad enough if there was lots of unpaid overtime, ridiculously low wages, no benefits, hire and fire tactics and no unions to battle this behavior... oh, hang on a second...

DrSponja
DrSponja

Oh my god, they have finally realized the truth, our employers wants robots, not humans! Come on, it was so obvious, have any one of you ever saw plans for a game, mostly in the big companies? They want the game out the fastest, so they give unreasonable tasks to their employees, sad but true. In the past it was creativity that drove developers to make a game, today it's all about market shares, money, fame, and most of all the fiscal year charts ;). All in all, it's us who decide how they will treat us, so raise your head and stand your ground! Or as they say, have a backbone kiddo!

cboyuno
cboyuno

@VarietyMage Whenever I hear people say the kinds of things that you are saying, I get very uncomfortable. I am currently studying computer science at a top tier university, hoping to someday work on games. I realize that all of my efforts could be meaningless if I just get outsourced by some no-life guy in India who is spending his entire life on his work. I don't intend to lose this battle. My goal is to work...hard. I figure as long as I can manage to eat, sleep, hit the gym, and work my ass off I might just manage to work my way into a secure position. I am also very creative and have major plans for making great games myself someday. I guess any way you cut it, dealing with stress is something that makes the difference between a happy life and a downward spiral.

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

While I've not worked in the games industry, I have been an application developer, and I've worked a couple of 25-hour days (yes, literally). They both ended up requiring at least a week's worth of patching to fix the buggy code I and others wrote. That's one of the reasons I quit my app dev job, but because of the dot-com bomb, outsourcing, and everything becoming mission-critical (and thus trainees need not apply for those jobs), I haven't been able to get back into the IT field. All I want is to have a 40 - 50 hour per week programming job. I don't want any more hours than that. I have a life, and I need food, sleep and companionship outside of work. I am a human being, and I deserve the respect that each human being deserves. When I see stories like this, I don't have to see both sides to know that this kind of thing *is* going on in the games industry. I still buy and play the games, but that is because I like the games and I support the developer's work with my hard-earned money in the hopes they'll create more good games. I don't support sweatshop labor. When I see game credits where they all say how understanding their families are for the devs working long hours, I can only hope it's voluntary on their part.

PumpkinBoogie
PumpkinBoogie

@Jaga_Telesin, My thoughts exactly. Sure we don't still don't have to go on, so I'm not completely taking sides one way or the other--however, I find it odd that Yerli's trying to brush this aside as if to blame the former employees & their 'legal defense'. To me, it reeks of suspicion on the employer's part if former workers HAVE TO take to a legal approach just to get something like severance pay--especially if it's OWED to them. If you ask me, that's certainly not something to point and be 'proud' about--Yerli--even you think your company came out 'on top' in these settlement disputes. Just the fact of using the plural term 'settlements' still raises a red flag that more than one person had take it to a legal level, doesn't help your point.

kenmanius
kenmanius

If you watch the behind the scenes footage of the making of God of War 3 at Santa Monica Studios, that looks like a respectable place to work at. But it still doesn't look like anyone has it easy there. Making games is a competitive and obviously technical field. Working in an environment where your job is to grind out complex algorithms at a sweat shop pace would not be fun.

ggregd
ggregd

Yeeeeahhh, why would this guy deny it. He's got nothing to lose. That's the ticket. Note the doublespeak and the failure to address the specific issues brought up by the complaining former employees. In the end, quality developers will leave the sweatshops and go to work for decent companies with decent conditions. The slavedrivers will be left with crappy developers making crappy games. They think their name and their past record alone will sell games. Not for long, douchebags.

ShadowOfKratos
ShadowOfKratos

Dam!! No wonder Crysis 2 ended up an HD demo version of Crysis 1.

parkurtommo
parkurtommo

I think it's horrible to treat these creative minds in such a way.

ciuchina82
ciuchina82

Perhaps it's Frankfurt the problem. I have worked as a tester for Nintendo of Europe in Frankfurt and our employers did took the liberty to treat us like worthless people, at first hiring us for a permanent position and then forcing us to stay at home for several months...at last they fired us finding ridiculous excuses. I swear I will never accept another job offer in Germany, you are not a human worker, you are a machine...a spinning top in their hands...and all for a 1200 euros net salary.

The-Best-Joke
The-Best-Joke

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The-Best-Joke
The-Best-Joke

@one50 right, so the fact that you being a police officer, which I respect, are chocked by you job means that very talented developing programmers have to endure what you have to endure? I'm sorry my friend, but these talented people have the right to demand a better quality of life, and if there job is stopping them from reaching that desire, then they are in all will to complain, in fact, it is you job as a law enforcer to be backing them up, not bashing them, you duty, which you alleged you swore, is to defend the right of this very people you are now critizicing, I don't know about you but to me this seams like you have a conflict of interest

The-Best-Joke
The-Best-Joke

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Allan_X
Allan_X

Unless you're providing a subscription service to an MMO or something similar, game development does not make money year-round like a fast food joint. When you release a title, you get a sudden jump in revenue and then it peters out when the market is fully saturated with product. You spend time building the team you need for a given work, and then you let them go when you're done so you can build the team you need for the next job; this is especially true if you put together more people than you need for day-to-day operations, in order to meet quotas during crunch time. This is why a lot of studios these days are making more extensive use of temporary workers and contractors. They can't afford to keep employing the same people year after year on a semi-permanent basis, especially not with the global economic downturn we've been seeing. People are spending a whole lot more of their money on essentials and less on leisure items, so the entertainment industry is naturally going to be one of the first to start hurting.

The-Best-Joke
The-Best-Joke

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jlm2k5
jlm2k5

All of a sudden crytek is no longer my favourite developer

MEDzZ3RO
MEDzZ3RO

@Rocker6 Anyone who buys those titles for the campaign are asking to be disappointed, MoH could have been good if it wasn't so short. Sounds good to me, I'd be lying if I said I don't have a habit of chatting in the comments section, for good or for worse. Nice that we could keep this debate sensible and mature, see you around :D

one50
one50

Hah. What a bunch of sissies. You know what, there are people in the world who would LOVE to have these jobs, who do have the same skill level, and will do it for less. Many people have jobs that are very demanding. I am a police officer, my life revolves around EVERYONE elses. I have court almost EVERY day I have off. I cannot plan anything due to shortage of manpower and court scheduling. I too, am a slave to my job. (not willingly of course) Yet, I am thankful for what I have, and if I were sitting in a nice air conditioned office, drinking a latte and snacking on a muffin as I create software and video games, I would think I was pretty fortunate to not be getting shot, stabbed, run over, digging ditches, working on an assembly line, working retail, working food service etc. STOP WHINING. YOU ARE THE REASON JOBS ARE GOING OVERSEAS.

Rocker6
Rocker6

@MEDzZ3RO I dont think you can fully compare Rage and Crysis\FC,because they are FPS games forcused on exact objectives,only with a lot of freedom to do them,but still the arent open world games,while Rage is a sandbox,open-world game game with some RPG elements.Also,there is a difference between more linear shooter that is Bioshock and "coridor shooter" like CoD,Homefront,MoH.Bioshock had some exploration,and it was quite rewarding,while CoD,Homefront and MoH force you to take exact path filled with invisible walls and remove any freedom of movement and approaching situtaions in your choice.But lets stop this,we've gone far off inicial topic.After all,this is an article about work time problems and bad employee treatment,while we turned it into some kind of a System War :D

bigtruckseries
bigtruckseries

If the suffering of the DEV teams is what's required to bring out games as revolutionary as Crysis 2 THEN SO BE IT. I've seen far too many games that suck because the dev teams are treated like primadonas (ahem: Halo ODST,, REACH, etc. )

MEDzZ3RO
MEDzZ3RO

@Rocker6 Fair enough, each to their own I suppose. I wasn't trying to insinuate all PC gamers buy games based on graphical prowess. You see, I didn't like Far Cry much, I thought the pacing was too slow. This is why our opinions are very different. That's not exactly fair, I may be wrong but Rage looks like it's more of a sandbox game more inline with Far Cry and Crysis. AI also looks to deliver. I'm looking forward to it. A lot of games are "corridor shooters" but there are a few exceptions, some of the more linear shooters offer more because of that fact. Bioshock's a good example.

Sanguis_Malus
Sanguis_Malus

This transcends the games industry, its a sad fact that most large workplaces are run by total a'holes despite the industry. There is no loyalty in the workplace anymore, this leads to a high turnover of staff.

williebazerka
williebazerka

There's always 2 sides to a story so if I don't see it for myself I don't really care.

Rocker6
Rocker6

@MEDzZ3RO They were a standout,I may be a PC enthusiast,but I always respect great gameplay,Im not just after graphics.I know quite a lot of games with great graphics and mediocre gameplay.And as I said,you could play Crysis in a lot of way,especially first few levels which had huge maps and a lot of enviroment to use,you had bigger selection of suit powers,and also,you had a lot of vehicles.Physics were also great,and enviroment(trees and lot of objects including houses)was destroyable).For me,its still one of the best FPS games ever created,and I think 9,5 it got here on Gamspot is very well deserved.I replay Crysis and Far Cry every year now just to remind myself how good FPS games once were,when they gave you objectives,huge map and a lot of ways to complete them,when they werent some coridor shooters with brain dead A.I. like today.

MEDzZ3RO
MEDzZ3RO

@Rocker6 The game itself was indeed console orientated but the franchise isn't one people associate with consoles, the franchise is better known to the PC community then the console one. I may have been a console gamer all my life but my brother has stints between both console and PC, I'm well aware of how Crysis and Warhead were. They're not bad games by any means but were they really standout? Valve gave PS3 owners a crummy Xbox port plagued with issues, it was still enjoyable but it had its issues, I'd probably feel the same way as I did about that. It was an inconvenience but I didn't feel it was a major issue. On a personal note I'm not a huge Uncharted fan, I think it's alright but I don't think it's as good as the hype suggests. I suppose it depends how you look at it, developers are moving away from PC because the console market has grown larger. Some developers claim piracy is a real issue; it's such a free platform that it's almost impossible to stop without moving your focus elsewhere. I have to say I was surprised Crysis 2 was so console orientated because PC gamers made Crysis what it is. Nice to see DICE and ID Software still realise this and are pushing PCs with Battlefield 3 and Rage; I personally think it will result in better console games as well.

runenakken
runenakken

Two or three less skilled workers can't replace one skilled in today's tech industry and games development industry. You need the most talented and skilled workers to continue to push the bars, unless you make games for phones. Crysis 2 is one such game that pushes the bars. I believe some workers who are let go were very sore about that and posted that blog. But still, it's a very competitive industry and I'm sure conditions can be very hard and demanding for the employees!

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

Hmm...perhaps game developers need a union. This is the kind of crap unions were meant to stop.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

@Flavorysoup The law is not the same in every country, so there is no general rule for that. And that rule is something I hear a lot. I can asure you there is no such thing as "it's less expensive 3 bad guys that a good one". If a company ever pays you an extra it is exactly because they don't want you to leave the company. Hire 3 new guys and you have to make 3 new contract, pay 3 health insurance costs (Dunno in the states, but in most of Europe is mandatory) and pay 3 salaries... So, at least here, It does not work that way. and I can assure you (by self experience) that this kind of behaviour is not the regular one in the industry, but the ussual inside EA, Activision, Capcom and big companies alike. All I had to say, maybe the rest of the people here working in the industry had a different experience... good for em, but I fnd REALLY funny some coments here bellow; you people want more and more and more games, but don't give a damn about what happens to everyone responsible of creating them; "deal with it" some of you say... yeah, sure, get back to play your damn game, easy to say from you home (one that in some cases you don't pay, but your parent do). Mode rant: off, thanks for your patience, needed that ^^

Rocker6
Rocker6

@MEDzZ3RO Crysis 2 isnt PC orriented in any way,we had that infamous "Press Start to continue" and "adjust your TV brightness".I dont even want to start how much gameplay has been dumbed down.Also,Crysis and Warhead were much more than a graphics showcase,its clear to me you never played them,both games had incredible freedom of action that I havent seen in any FPS title since they came out.And maybe Portal 2 wasnt a best example,but my argument still stands,if companies werent making half done PC ports and if they showed some real respect to the community,PC sales would be much bigger.DRM,spyware softwares,disrepect to the community will always olny bring piracy and low sales.You said you were a PS3 gamer.I wonder how would you react if for example Uncharted suddenly became a Xbox orriented franchise and if you got some half done ports that barely work.

Bratushka
Bratushka

I'm older than your typical gamer which is OK by me since age happens and there isn't anything I can do about it. What got me in the article was the part about getting rid of older workers to replace them with younger, less skilled, and cheaper to employ workers. It is happening everywhere. A few years ago I lost my job of 22 years when the company decided China, Mexico, and Thailand were full of cheaper labor, closed almost all their US facilities putting thousands out of work and fled. They also spread the "love" to facilities around Europe farming those jobs to the same places. That being said, it's sadly the way of the world, I wasn't too concerned because I have two college degrees, a Journeyman's Card, a couple professional licenses, a stack of educational certificates, glowing letters of recommendation, an outstanding work history, etc. My skill set in electronics and PC and PLC controls is current. I also had a wide background in fluid controls and fluid power, mechanics, and a variety of other fields. At the exit interviews I was told this by a VA rep after telling him I wasn't worried about getting rehired: "Buddy, you'll have more doors slammed in your face because of your age than if you were a felon just released from prison." He was so right! It doesn't matter what your skills or background are. If a company can get 2 people who know half as much and pay the two less than they were paying the older, skilled person they will not hesitate to do it.

Taffelost
Taffelost

There's nothing special about the game industry. If they can't treat their employees properly they have to shut down their operations. When every other business in the western world can, then the game industry should as well. However this is something local authorities has to sort. We're not living in the 1800's or feudal europe. People has rights today.

GarGx1
GarGx1

Here we go again....My contracted work is finished and I had to work the last month doing 80 hour weeks to finish it on schedule and now I'm out of a job blah blah blah!..... Guess what guys there's a lot of people out there that do contract work for a lot less money, if you don't like it do something else.

SamiRDuran
SamiRDuran

It serves you right crytek. Next time stick to pc gaming

campbell153
campbell153

Welcome to the cut-throat industry that is GAMING!

dcook42
dcook42

Whatever they did was worth it, because Crysis 2 is AMAZING.

Flavorysoup
Flavorysoup

@Warlord_Irochi If you extremely valuable that means they have to pay more for you.... so they would probably take 3 more people less valuable that could do everything you could but for less money. This is how business works, instead of a few highly trained skilled people doing the work they have a crap ton of people do small parts of the game because it's less expensive.

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

If this is true Crytek will put themselves out of business. Bankruptcy awaits Crytek if this is what is happening. The employee's should walk, if this is true.