Rockstar at odds with Team Bondi - Report

Leaked emails detail publishers "disdain" for L.A. Noire developer; next Team Bondi game not coming through Rockstar.

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It has been clear the development of L.A. Noire was troubled, with the International Game Developers Association recently describing reports of working conditions at Team Bondi, the Australian studio behind the game, as "absolutely unacceptable." Emails revealed to trade site GamesIndustry.biz have laid bare more troubles at the house responsible for creating one of the highest profile games ever to come out of the antipodean nation.

L.A. Noire's success seems to have come at a personal price.

"I've heard a lot about Rockstar's disdain for Team Bondi, and it has been made quite clear that they will not publish Team Bondi's next game," an unnamed source said to GI.biz. "Rockstar used to be very keen on making Team Bondi something like 'Rockstar Sydney'…the more they worked with Team Bondi management, the more they came to understand that this was a terrible idea."

The leaked emails detail the mutual frustrations senior management had with studio head Brendan McNamara. One missive from the Team Bondi head details his anger over Team Bondi branding being left off L.A. Noire promotional material, saying "I'll never forget being treated like an absolute **** by these people." The emails also back up the complaints with working conditions that had been previously reported, with seven-day weeks of 12-hour days being standard in early 2009, more than two years before the game's eventual release.

L.A. Noire was first announced in 2004, and was initially rumored to be a Sony exclusive; Rockstar snapped up the title in 2006. Speaking at the time, McNamara said, "The longstanding mutual respect and the combined experience between the two of us make this a great partnership."

As of press time, Rockstar had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment.

Discussion

177 comments
newbie4lyfe
newbie4lyfe

hopefully rockstar do la noire 2 like rdr :)

emperiox
emperiox

FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT! YES I LOVE FIGHTS! I got $20 on Rockstar... ;)

Mechasmic
Mechasmic

Okay looks like maybe i wasn't clear. We all know teachers are under paid and really who isn't? What i'm trying to get at is that these guys know what they're getting into. Just like a car salesman or electronics salesman. They work knowing there's a good payday on the other side. And when these deadlines start to hit they ship games that are glitchy and still in what i consider a beta state. As opposed to working 12 hour shifts, why not bring in more devs? It's not like they can't afford it. It's not slave labor, they're getting paid quite nicely. More than average for cops, firemen, etc. You want to say "well developers are people too." I understand that but so am I. We're the ones getting the shaft is what i'm saying either way. As far as marketing for this game, Rockstar gets the win. Whenever anyone hears Rockstar, their ears perk up is what i mean. Before that game came out no one was saying Bondi this or Bondi that. Rockstar made that game a hit. But at the expense of someone else. We all know that E.A. has done a good job with they're publishing lately with games like Dead Space 1 and 2. Let's use that as an example.

smsmsmoosavi
smsmsmoosavi

Nice job Rockstar. Team Bondi will never be a great studio for Rockstar's superb ideas like RDR or GTA

ScaredySquirrel
ScaredySquirrel

I seem to remember it being common knowledge that Team Bondi was the developer and that Rockstar was the publisher. I understand that Rockstar is a pretty big name and it would be easy to get overshadowed by them but honestly I don't ever remember thinkikng that Rockstar made this game.

TechnologoDoom
TechnologoDoom

given WoW grinding in China and now this, sweat shop labor looks to be a legitimate issue for the gaming industry. they better get their acts together!

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

Thats too bad. The game development industry can be "politically" poisoned. I would come to hate videogames in such an enviroment. But thats the way it is I guess.

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

@Mechasmic im telling you this truthfully, games (and tv) taught me twice as much as school ever did. anyway the game developers earn their money fairly and deserve it, why shouldn't they? besides teaching is funded by the government, game developing is a business, there is no reason to compare their pay.

mattcake
mattcake

Well a simple look at the dates says "announced in 2004", "bought by rockstar in 2006" so by then it supposedly had 2 years work on it, then a further THREE years later in 2009 rockstar imposed these harsh working hours... but by then the game had had 5 years development and *still* another 2 years before being released, so what damn state was the game in after 5 years when the working hours went "unfairly" up? I cant blame them for expecting harder work, clearly they were taking waaay too long on rockstars dime. LA Noire is good but there is nothing in that game that suggests longer than a 2-3yr dev time.

GunBladeHero
GunBladeHero

L.A Noire for PC should only come when The Witcher 2 comes to the X360. Only fair option avaiable.

GTAPeople
GTAPeople

There six days left to get last Reefer Madness DCL avaible.

Skargamer
Skargamer

R*, y u be so greedy? C'mon, you published an amazing game and sold tons. You also got lots of publicity as a publisher, and now you're even more revered than when you came out with the GTA series. Why R*?

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

@squidracerX My bad, totally got the wrong end of the stick on this one.

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

Whether they split or not, they better still made multi-platform products. and they better not screws L.A. Noire PC because of this.

KDogKool
KDogKool

this sucks, la noire was awesome. hopefully la noire 2 isnt hurt by this

Rocker6
Rocker6

@thekillerjones No information about any cancelling for now,but Im also worried.Hopefully everything will turn out fine.

BenFireFox
BenFireFox

save the good developers get them to rockstar games and kick team bondi out

flashn00b
flashn00b

Perhaps the PC version of LA Noire caused them to be disliked Rockstar to some extent.

thekillerjones
thekillerjones

Pardon my ignorance (i'm not the most clued-up person when it comes to the mechanics of the gaming industry) but is this going to have any affect on the PC port of the game??? I'll frickin' have a heart attack if this gets cancelled!!!

BeanoFatardo
BeanoFatardo

you people don't have a clue. plain and simple : if team bondi had a problem with the "slave labor", they should have said something about it a long time ago. team bondi got big-headed with the success of l.a. noire and soon they'll be working with yet ANOTHER company. you can say that they were pimped out and rockstar didn't do anything with the game, but lets be real : would YOU have bought it if it didn't have the rockstar name on it? personally, i wouldn't have spent 65 bucks and waited at midnight at GAMESTOP for it if it didn't.

GTAPeople
GTAPeople

LA NOIRE was a cool game for me, but less action. I like this game, with new face. I cant believe that Brendan McNamara was bad and over condition to worker, I don't like his comment response and there some forgot developer name to put on credit in-game. Look like Team Bondi misplace credit after reports.

okassar
okassar

"Seven-day weeks of 12-hour days being standard in early 2009" that's short of slave labor. Absolutely disgusting.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

I remember reading about Team Bondi's "LA Noire" horror stories on another site. I'm not at all surprised that they had problems with Rockstar.

PyscoJuggalo
PyscoJuggalo

@Mechasmic Teachers have pensions, health insurance, and tenure (AKA job security), game developers do not. Also average income is skewed, we need the median income. I am sure well known game developers make much more than the median income and skew the numbers a bit. (I know statistics and how statistics can lie)

RealFabioSooner
RealFabioSooner

@jporter313 The problem is that this isn't that simple. Yes, people shouldn't accept certain conditions if they value themselves and their work. Yes, we shouldn't stick to big companies just out of admiration of the final work they put out. BUT, at the same time, these people accepted these conditions for years and waited for the game to finish to complain. No one obligated them to work there. When we say 'people shouldn't accept it', that's exactly what it means: they should have quit. More than two years is way more than enough time to find something else to work on and say bye-bye. And we shouldn't stick to those people just because they're employees, not employers. People are as capable of being stupid as... well, the other people that head companies. People are people, no matter how much they work or earn. Let's be honest here: a lot of the sympathy towards Team Bondi's employees derives from this insane, irrational, esoteric postmodern notion that companies are somehow sentient and evil. Companies are not sentient beings: they're run by ***people*** who can make all kinds of mistakes and take all the wrong, evil decisions, just like anyone else. Activision doesn't think or act. Bobby Kotick does. And in the end, if things keep going this way, the whole stuff will damage the Australian studio as much as it did the employees. There's no need to demonize Team Bondi or its top level execs: all sides will pay for their excesses and naivete.

Uesugi-dono
Uesugi-dono

Screw R*. They're lucky to have gotten their name on LA Noire; they've certainly gathered enough misplaced credit. Team Bondi outdid themselves and ANY publisher out there would be fortunate to have them.

raptures330
raptures330

@Mechasmic I think almost every single official trailer to do with the game was either starring a Team Bondi member in an interview, started with audio similar to "From Team Bondi and Rockstar Games", or had both their names flashed on the screen during the trailer (Rockstar Games Presents -> A Team Bondi Production). Really? 73k is the average pay for a developer/involved in making the game? Says who? Where? My experience and research shows a way different picture. Avg pay is closer to 55k and the only people making 65k+ are people who have been in the same company for 6+ years. @Philly1UPer Really not trying to be a jerk so take this the best way you can: From your responses it is clear you do not understand the story. I can't even begin to debate your points because... many of them are ideas from misinterpreting the news. For example: "why did Team Bondi wait until NOW to say something about this...hmm?" "I've never heard or read a report about their workers complaining about "terrible working conditions" and to say they got no credit? HA! Yeah ok, I guess I was imagining the name "Team Bondi" during the opening and ending credits in LA Noire when I loaded it up." Click on both top links that were supplied in this article. Read 'em through. Then if you wish we can carry on with the debate. Until then it is kind of pointless. It would be like me talking about how the Team Bondi manager re-designed the LA Noire logo. I hope you understand.

jporter313
jporter313

@Mechasmic: A counterpoint to that is that most game developers live in the most expensive areas of the country because that's where most game development happens. I personally live in San Francisco. The income limit for low income housing here is around $90,000. Therefore, your average game developer in SF making that amount would qualify. I know many areas of the country 73K sounds like an incredible amount, but most places where game devs live, it's not. Most of that 13 Billion does not go to the people working the continuous 80 hour weeks. Yes, teachers should make more money, thanks for pointing that out. Yes, many people in China live in comparatively terrible conditions, would you like us to be moving toward that or away from it? Neither of these things make it excusable to exploit highly skilled workers. You can feel bad for all 3 of these groups, They are all being mistreated in some way.

rat5112
rat5112

@Mechasmic "Who remembers any trailers or marketing giving Bondi any credit?" About 15 seconds in [url]http://www.rockstargames.com/lanoire/videos/7211/[/url] I love adventure games and I was hoping that this would be the start of a new mainstream series. If the allegations of the working conditions are true then the company shouldn't go forward with their current management. As for the promotional material lets be honest this game being pushed as a Rockstar game moved a lot of copies. That's the entire point of partnering with a company like Rockstar. This was Team Bondi's first game. Their name doesn't have any value associated with it. Their names were on the trailer and besides its not like they didn't get anything valuable from having Rockstar plastered all over their game

RadicalToenail
RadicalToenail

@TDragonn Oh, yeah, totally. Man, all US companies just try to crap on everyone! Suurree. Oh, hey, you know the Houser brothers (founders and heads of Rockstar) are from England? Guess the British are out to crap on everyone else too, right?

Mechasmic
Mechasmic

Ok, google this.The average game developer make 73,000 a year. The industry is pulling in 13 billion a year. That's 13 billion "gamers'" hard earned money. These guys are making twice as much as the people that teach our kids that are responsible for our FUTURE. So don't feel sorry for them. Go look up some stuff on wal-mart's out sourcing to china if you want to feel sorry for someone.

MJ12-Conspiracy
MJ12-Conspiracy

If these charges are true then I really don't see Team Bondi going very far in this industry, on the other hand worse people and organizations have walked for worse in the past.

NAF4141
NAF4141

eh, game kinda sucks anyway. so repetitive. not even close to the greatness of RDR

ToTs_00
ToTs_00

I hope Rockstar buys the rights to L.A. Noir before they part ways.

TDragonn
TDragonn

The US trying to take credit for all of Australia's work? This isn't that unusual, it's been happening for years in the film industry.

jporter313
jporter313

@raptures330: Exactly, I don't get all these people who stick up for the companies mistreating their employees, the only people this kind of exploitation benefits are the people at the top, the major stockholders and top level execs (and that's an arguably short-term benefit). The more people accept this kind of exploitation, the more pervasive it'll become, and it won't be good for games or society in general in the long run.

Philly1UPer
Philly1UPer

@raptures330 Also...why did Team Bondi wait until NOW to say something about this...hmm? I eman...if the conditions were t"terrible" why stick it out and help those "Evil Men" when you could have staged a walk out and work something out. explain that one to me as well.

Philly1UPer
Philly1UPer

@raptures330 Also...did Team Bondi actually sleep in the studio in bunkers? Oh yeah...they didnt...because they have to go home at some point. When creating a game, you must create it using the best of your abilities. You must play through it over and over and over again in its beta stages to make sure EVERYTHING runs smooth. EVERYTHING. Team Bondi has a problem with doing that? Then I wont be buying their next game, because they will probably rush it out and it will end up being a rushed peice of crap. working 2 years straight, 24/7? Yeah right. BS detector is now on.

Philly1UPer
Philly1UPer

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Mechasmic
Mechasmic

Team Bondi was pimped. point blank. Now Rockstar is trying to save face. Who remembers any trailers or marketing giving Bondi any credit? I'm sure there's people playing the game right now that have no idea who team bondi are still. As far as the working conditions go, that's the name of the game (pun intended). That's what i call quality assurance. Speaking of which isn't Bethesda releasing a patch on New vegas? I mean that game is almost a year old. It's retarded that we pay top dollar for these games and they're glitchy if not barely playable (cough cough brink,homefront,new vegas). I'm sick of seeing these magazine covers and trailers, waiting on a game for two years, and it not being polished. I don't buy games to beta test them. There should be regulations on this kind of stuff. And think about this...Work hard two years off one or two. These studios are making bank and we're the ones putting the money in their wallets. They could bring more people on but they CHOOSE not too. They're cutting corners and we get the shaft and are supposed to feel sorry? screw that.

Philly1UPer
Philly1UPer

@raptures330 Do you think anyone right off the bat says "Man, We can't wait and test this, we just gotta do everything with this NEW technology and just hope it works!" No, its month and months to even YEARS of testing before you can finally have something worth going forward with using said technology. How many games have Rockstar come out with? THe only type of negative press I heard whenever they released a game was because of what you can actually do in the game. I've never heard or read a report about their workers complaining about "terrible working conditions" and to say they got no credit? HA! Yeah ok, I guess I was imagining the name "Team Bondi" during the opening and ending credits in LA Noire when I loaded it up.

Philly1UPer
Philly1UPer

@raptures330 I actually work 60-70 hour work weeks, So, I pretty much know what its like. Do I hate working that many hours? Yes and no. Yes because I don't have the freedom or lack of responsibility when I was 13, No, because I love making money and having my own house and saving my partying time for the weekends or my day off, Thats your bad for working two straight weeks for a course (by course I assume you mean some type of college) and not getting paid for it or having any days off. Its called WORK, get use to it, your gonna have to do it until you die, the older and more experienced you get, the more responsibility you get. Funny, Team Bondi is complaining about the "terrible working conditions" Unless if they were working in a broken, beat up warehouse with 56k, No types of lunch breaks, rats everywhere and being held against their own will (which they werent. They have a choice to work or not to work, and they chose to continue working) then, yeah. Ill side with them. Buuuuut. Looking at the making of videos, I saw no signs of "Terrible working conditions" what so ever. If you can, please point them out to me. Yes, they were using a new technology...keyword....NEW. Do you think the US or any country jumps face first into a middle of a war with NEW technology? continued in next post

HaloPimp978
HaloPimp978

I don't blame Rockstar for the slightest thing.

raptures330
raptures330

@Philly1UPer First: you really need to go see the "making of" videos for LA Noire. It was done using "innovative" methods of recording the actors' faces while reading the lines. Second: Have you ever tried to work 2 months straight without a day off? Really, have you? How about 2 weeks? Try 2 years now. I did an intensive course for 12 months that required every day of the year and the last month is slightly more than a blur. There was an 80%+ drop rate and of those of us that finished a little under half failed. People were having nervous breakdowns. They have now made that course 1 1/2 years. It is inhuman to expect this. Third: This statement of yours "Be greatful your even working during this terrible economy making VIDEO GAMES of all things." is one of the reasons for such abuses. They abuse people because they love this and it is their passion but this in turns creates a constant revolving door of employees so there is a big problem retaining people for higher management. In other words: we cannot grow. People get burnt out long before their time and this will reflect on the industry negatively as time goes by. People are willing to sacrifice a lot, but you shouldn't ask for everything... and since they did ask and people did sacrifice... the least they could do was put their freaking names on the game. Have a little sympathy for your fellow bloodmachines.

braiiiiiins
braiiiiiins

I'm impressed that Rockstar even bothered with this game. It's a decent game, but 7+ years to be released, that's a definite red flag on Team Bondi.

Rocker6
Rocker6

Hopefully,PC version of L.A. Noire wont be cancelled because of these problems.