Rockstar Games has come to dominate the month of May, having scored back-to-back hits with the release of Red Dead Redemption in 2010 and L.A. Noire in 2011. However, chart-topper status isn't the only point of commonality between the studios, as both Red Dead Redemption developer Rockstar San Diego and now L.A. Noire developer Team Bondi have had employees cry foul over abusive working conditions.
In response to the recent allegations against Team Bondi, the International Game Developers Association issued a statement to GameSpot today indicating that it will be conducting an investigation into Team Bondi's working conditions.
"At the current time, we do not know all the facts about the situation at Team Bondi and do not want to misrepresent any parties involved," the IGDA said in a statement. "Certainly reports of 12-hour a day, lengthy crunch time, if true, are absolutely unacceptable and harmful to the individuals involved, the final product, and the industry as a whole."
"We are reaching out to the employees and former employees of Team Bondi to come to the IGDA Quality of Life SIG with their concerns to help us create a more accurate and detailed response," it continued. "We encourage any Team Bondi employee and/or family member to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with their comments about the recent past and current situation--positive or negative."
The IGDA's comment follows on from a host of allegations leveled at Team Bondi in recent weeks. On Friday, an IGN report quoted a number of past and present Team Bondi employees who detailed oppressive working conditions at the studio. Further, in early June, more than 100 one-time Team Bondi employees claimed they had been left out of L.A. Noire's credits.
Rockstar Games had not responded to a request for comment as of press time.
[UPDATE] Responding to a request for comment, an IGDA representative said that should the allegations against Team Bondi prove true, its best form of action is to raise awareness about the situation.
"The IGDA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance the careers and enhance the lives of game developers," the representative said. "A big part of that has always been through our advocacy for and on behalf of developers. On a general level for an issue like this we would certainly do our best to raise awareness of the situation, and will continue to educate people about the incredibly harmful effects extended crunch has."
"For Team Bondi specifically we would seek to help affected developers understand what their rights are, and what type of recourse, if any, is available to them," the representative said. "The sad reality is that the 'death march' crunch alleged to have occurred at Team Bondi is still far too common in the industry. While we find the practice to be deceptive, exploitative, and ultimately harmful not only to developers but their final product, and the industry as a whole, in many cases it is not illegal and as such employees have little ability to effect change other than raising awareness of studio practices, and looking to work for studios that operate differently."
"The most disappointing aspect of this is that many people believe that incredible games can only be made through abusive practices like this," the representative continued. "The fact is, games can be built without having to exploit developers through forced extended crunch, and the results can be better for the game they are working on, and for the long-term sustainability of the studio and its team."
The IGDA rep concluded by noting that the organization has as a long-term objective to establish employment contract guidelines for studios that address such issues as crediting, quality of life, and overtime pay.