Test Drive Unlimited dev goes on strike - Report

Protesting "mismanagement" and massive impending layoffs, Atari-owned Eden Games executes "symbolic" walkout.

An oft-issued complaint among game developers is the crunch-to-layoff cycle that many publishers maintain at their studios. Such an occurrence appears to be under way at Atari-owned Eden Games, which received positive critical reception for Test Drive Unlimited 2 upon its release in February. However, Eden Games as a studio doesn't appear to be taking the layoffs lying down.

Eden Games hits the picket line.

Gamasutra reports today that it has received a letter from Eden Games indicating that the studio has called a "symbolic day strike" in protest of "mismanagement" at Atari. According to the letter, Atari plans to eliminate 51 of 80 positions at the Lyon, France-based studio in June, which is the earliest it is able to under French law.

"For several years we are witnessing multiple leader changes at its head, they did not hesitate to get rich despite financial difficulties," the statement reads. "Each time the recovery project was beautiful and promising, and ended in a failure. We are skeptical about the proposed project."

Gamasutra spoke with an Eden Games representative, who declined to further elaborate on the nature of the aforementioned project. In 2002, the studio was purchased by Atari (then known as Infogrames), which has since undergone significant reorganization under an online-gaming agenda. Current president and CEO Jim Wilson joined the company in March 2008, briefly teaming with onetime head of Sony Worldwide Studios Phil Harrison, who departed the company in May 2009.

As for Eden's decision to walk out, the statement said that Atari has been unwilling to enter into negotiations with the studio. The strike is intended to "show the employees' determination and mobilization," as well as open up communication channels with Wilson, "who has never introduced himself to his employees."

"Atari does not play the game of negotiations with employee representatives on the redundancy plan measures," the statement said. "Employee representatives of Eden until now have been extremely collaborative, respecting the very tight deadlines of the redundancy plan."

Eden also indicated that it believes employees of its studio are not receiving commensurate compensation during the layoff process compared to other Atari employees. "We know the content of all the Atari previous restructuring plans," an Eden representative said. "And the actual conditions of our plan is basically half of the previous one [in 2009]. We're convinced that this is not fair for the game developers."

The studio also wants access to unspecified financial records that it claims Atari is withholding from them. These documents may pertain to Test Drive Unlimited 2 sales, which a representative estimated will top out at about 900,000.

Atari had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment as of press time.

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63 comments
vasgko2
vasgko2

so ...probably there is a god. tdu2 sucked in every way (for a payed game) and it's good that we will not hear from them again in the future. let's hope that atari WILL NOT back off

MariusGta
MariusGta

good job atari! fire those losers at Eden games! they've ruined the sequel to the most amazing driving game ever!

orange___label
orange___label

TDU2 is a pretty impressive game once you play enough into it ... though it does have its issues. I wonder if it would have a much better game if the developers weren't treated like prostitutes. With the millions they make you think they can afford a better package plan for them.... Prostitutes!!!

DAMSOG
DAMSOG

Would you employ someone who didn't do the work properly? Would you keep that person on after the product was released with many bugs/glitches and much bad publicity? They have no right to complain because, after all is said and done they are the folks responsible for this steaming pile of rubbish. The movie/music industry is just as fickle with big dollars on offer, why should the gaming industry be any different?

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

to anybody thinking corporate greed taking over gaming is rhetoric... behold... somebody with enough balls to stand against the suits

pszone
pszone

Atari put this game out to early even wasnt ready i think Eden games should sue Atari so i think about time Atari go i think they the worst game company to make games

pez2k_
pez2k_

The TDU2 beta test was too late in development for them to actually fix issues, it was more of a stress test. That makes it even more ironic that the online side of the game was unplayable for weeks after release. I'm glad to see a studio with the power to stand up against its publisher when the layoffs come around, but I'm not sure it will be of much use. I would like to blame Atari entirely for how tragically bad TDU2 was, but Eden can't be completely innocent. The end result is that they created a really low-quality game and are now being fired for it, regardless of who meddled in what. It's a shame after how brilliant their original TDU was.

Deeze-Nutz
Deeze-Nutz

@jamesAboy19 TDU did not listen to players. I was a beta tester, which i know is nothing to really brag about. When I gave feed back for real problems and see the problem not fixed, I was like this game is going to fail big time. If you played the game or tested it you know what issues i am speaking of. Also the game was very boring to me. Nearly no traffic, The crash detail was a joke. The handling of the cars was so 80's. Just name a few. The graphics were actually a bit decent for the map. Like anything you can always make it better. The game needed more action. The devs leaving would be an ending to the bleeding. This game needs many hours of work to be worth buying. But a good trailer will sell a lot of copies to still make a profit.

wurdmann
wurdmann

@jamesAboy19 I understand where you are coming from. But 18-20K a year is hard to live on and raise a family. I agree though something has to be done. I feel bad for the poor folks getting laid off. I hope they find work elsewhere doing something they enjoy.

adroge1
adroge1

When companies are bought, it's a given that you don't need two people doing the exact same jobs. The people affected are in HR, and payroll, generally not the developers themselves... until the company decides to outsource.

jamesAboy19
jamesAboy19

Just another reason why once i complete my degree in game design i would rarther work in an indie game studio and earn 18-20K per year than 30-80K and be a disposable asset....Also maybe if more publishers listened to their game developers actually payed attention to their fans and played other games to keep up to date with the way things are happening in the industry they wouldnt make these mistakes.

001011000101101
001011000101101

Releasing a game with as many bugs as TDU2 supposedly had is NOT okay, but how can you expect them to make a game without bugs when Atari keep laying off the developers? I feel sorry for Eden games, in a way.

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

Well I think by now that Game devs should band together to help get some legislation passed to stop immediate layoffs after finishing a project. I mean it's not like a movie where EVERYONE goes their separate ways. Movies aren't known for studios making the whole movie, they're known for the individuals and their talent. That talent comes together on something and once it's done they don't usually bring the exact same crew together for the next movie. Game devs however are known as the "talent" in the game industry. Yeah some individuals rise up as being the "stars" (Miyamoto, Tim Schaffer, etc) but generally it's a studio that is known as being the creators of a property. I just think it's a shame that this happens all the time. Something should be done to stop it. I mean not everyone can afford to be able to just look for a job in this economy. And it's not like that developer won't go right into making another project...

plm3d_basic
plm3d_basic

The first TDU was one of the most addictive and fun racing games I've ever played. I think I wasted over 100 hours playing that game. TDU 2 was an unfinished unpolished mess full of bugs on day one of release. They also completely messed up the driving mechanics where cars felt like they were driving on ice and they took away one of the BEST features in a racing game which was the ability to load your own mp3 and just drive around the map. Why? There was absolutely no reason to take this out. All these boneheads had to do was to keep the game exactly like what it was in the first game, add day/night cycles, damage, better graphics, off road racing and the game would have been awesome. These people screwed up a great franchise and deserve no sympathy. Just did a quick check on Amazon. The game is already in the bargain bin and selling for $15. I don't think this game sold very well and now the developers are paying for it.

DrKill09
DrKill09

Always thought Unlimited was kinda meh, anyway.

daviwinn
daviwinn

After the TDU2 mess (which still isn't sorted on the 360) they all need to be fired, from the top on down. A massive online game with a broken online, saves being corrupted, game freezing glitches, etc. They get no sympathy from me.

01-cannon-mpc
01-cannon-mpc

@spy2828 There was one bug early at launch of TDU 2 that prevented you from making it past the main menue of the game. Just read on the official forum. There should be lots of stuff there. Did you buy the game at launch? And i have fallen through the ground several times. And lets not even talk about the pre-order cars that i havent even bin able to get despite that i have used the code. And i played the game on Consol. There i couldent and still cant get the pre-oder car. The servers wher completly meseed up, and thay got alarming amount of bug reports sent to them on facebook, twitter and there website. And it was literly imposible to play the game for weeks. Couldent even get past the menue. And thas all the problems i had. And thay aperently never tested the consol versin in any way. I know thay had a closed beta. The PC version might have worked fine. But the consol completly messed up.

magusat999
magusat999

As if they didn't know this would happen. There is enough history on the antics of all these large companies to show that merging UNDER (as opposed to WITH) them is always fatal. Infogrames should have had a clue that things were going down when Atari changed their name - that was a sign of mastership right there - as well as a move to be able to do what they wanted to them without backlash from gamers who knew of the former company. These smaller but successful studios would do better to just stay independent rather than take the bait and join up with goliath companies that are inhaling and pooping out the little fishes.Make deals with companies that will make you money - not look at you to make them money. It's greedy and stupid. And the reason the top people at those companies are the first to go is because they are traitors who have cashed out and left all the other employees to rot. I feel sorry for the underlings left behind, because they don't understand the corporate way enough to know that corporations are not made to run, but to look good so they can sell out and make the stockholders rich. If you didn't have a stake in it then your assed out. Basically you were all pimped and this happens over and over again in this warped business world of our.

spy2828
spy2828

@01-cannon-mpc Full of bugs? I didn't notice a single bug on PC

01-cannon-mpc
01-cannon-mpc

I couldent care less about them or there problem if thay relese a TDU 2 in alfa state. The game was literly imposible to play at launch. And packed with bugs and problems. So i say thay deserv to be fired for relesing a game that dident even work. Thay had it comign if you ask me.

Killswitch007
Killswitch007

While they are understandably upset, it's the reality of the business they work in. Developers are cleaning house all the time after game releases and then rehiring as new resources are needed during development. They might not be helping themselves to find jobs in other studios.

Dx-Entity
Dx-Entity

A man can only take so much... Good for them, I support their strike.

Setho10
Setho10

@DarkReign2552 - Without a publisher it is hard to raise the $40 million needed to make a modern AAA title. And while we may not like it, marketing leads to increased sales. Quality, on the other hand, does not. That's just how it is.

razgriz_101
razgriz_101

good on them, developer pressure to release the game really showed that the game was essentially still in beta when it was published and the lack of polish put me right off the game and trade it in. Hopefully atari learn that Eden dont wanna fire out crappy products and then have to produce massive patches to basically fix the whole online portion which was broken. good on em.

benny446
benny446

i dont get it ? they stop making tdu2 or what? can someone explaine to me pls ^^

inaka_rob
inaka_rob

i get this is a common practice. it makes sense. The people are hired knowing this ahead of time. its part of the trade! okay? BUT riding a worker to the bone and yelling at him to hurry and finish a product just to can him the INSTANT he is done is pretty lame. where is the motivation to do your best. do your best or get fired? wait you are already doing your best. so work extra hours instead and get fired sooner!!!

phayde1212
phayde1212

Well I guess I won't be purchasing this one. Can't stand companies that behave in this manner.

Dmg051793
Dmg051793

Are you kidding me? Eliminate an entire 51/80 positions? That's completely bogus! I'm extremely glad the studio decided to stand up for themselves. Good for them.

Mariner32
Mariner32

@DarkReign2552 One could make the argument that Nintendo does the same thing by releasing a Mario, Metroid, Zelda, and Smash Bros title with every recent console but, to be fair, they pack a heck of a lot more innovation into their franchises than Activision does into CoD or EA does into any of their annual sports releases. Meh, the only thing I really want out of Atari right now is Zoids Vs. III released in English.

yboucher
yboucher

@selbie: technically that is the IGDA's ultimate role, but we are still very far from that.

DarkReign2552
DarkReign2552

The unfortunate fact of the matter is these big publishers are ruining the gaming industry as a whole. Outside of Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony directly, no publisher really comprehends what it is that makes a game a money-maker. Activision, EA, Atari, etc... see one game that sells and they go all $_$ and start to push for more sequels in less time with a smaller budget. The games lack any kind of advancement, no innovation, and more money is spent on marketing the license than making the game itself. Marketing is the reason game development costs are so high and it's the reason publishers are needed in the first place. Developers really need a platform that will allow them to publish their own work for 100% of the proceeds without publisher interference. Game quality would skyrocket and you would see a lot of trends like the annual "Rinse and Repeat" COD titles disappear.

selbie
selbie

Is there such a thing as Unions for game developers? Surely there needs to be an independent body who can assist workers in standing up to corporate mismanagement and to negotiate better work arrangements.

Crashbox45
Crashbox45

If only Infinity Ward did the same thing than suing the pants off of Acti-Blizz. This strike by Eden Games is a prime example of complaining of mismanagement the RIGHT way.

plaintomato
plaintomato

The TDU series has the potential to become one of the best racing series out there. But playing TDU2, though its a lot of fun, you can tell Atari tried to turn it into a budget game. Atari's just lucky Eden made it as good as they did w/ no support. Great game Eden! Suck bawls Atari!

Khoserken
Khoserken

Looks like Atari didn't learn from the mistakes of Driv3r.

X-RS
X-RS

good. bout damn time devs stood up to the rich people who dont know jack and simply put tight deadlines expecting to make $.

blackbeard1990
blackbeard1990

@trinigamer07003 Ive seen worse games, so by the looks of things i think theyve done a better job than some people have. Maybe they just needed to put more time into it rather than rushing. Some of those textures look nice

mariokart64fan
mariokart64fan

eden tap out and give testdrive to some one who wants it cause clearly you dont , good riddens!

KC_Hokie
KC_Hokie

lol...good old French and their strikes.

ahpuck
ahpuck

Strikes and France go hand in hand. Working in the gaming industry is so cut throat now days, doesn't sound like much fun as it used to be.

Gaoth
Gaoth

Please Eden Studio, do not turn like 'Bizarre Creations' Studio =~~

goodemon
goodemon

The Fat cats that run these game companies into the ground are a crying shame. It's what is killing capitalism and creating a fragmentation in the employee/employer contract. Too much greed and not enough love.

DanC1989
DanC1989

Don't get me wrong..I quite like the game and I'm not far from finishing it. But online wise it was and still is a shambles (only currently papered over for me cause I can't access PSN anyway!). The game was nowhere near ready in February.

darkfox101
darkfox101

Business men in any industry that requries imagination really just trash it. Examples: CoD, Rainbow six series. True gamer/buisness man types: Blizzard, valve.

trinigamer07003
trinigamer07003

All I know is that this game has been broken from day one .Bugs glitches and just blatantly not working so I don't care if they get fired go on strike or go on welfare , they just really need to rethink thier career choice becaue game development is not for them . What makes it even worse it the fact that I REALLY liked part one ...

glassesboy
glassesboy

Rough being a developer these days. Publishers demanding release dates, and choosing to release games that aren't 100% is becoming the norm. I wish Eden Games the best though.