L.A. Noire dev moves to shut down

Documents filed with Australian Securities and Investments Commission today foretell studio's imminent closure.

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Despite a glowing critical reception and chart-topping sales for Team Bondi's period crime sleuther L.A. Noire, the weeks and months following the game's May release have been fraught with uncertainty about the developer's future.

Perhaps forensics could figure out what killed Team Bondi.
Perhaps forensics could figure out what killed Team Bondi.

Most recently, Team Bondi was placed into administration, with control handed off to a separate entity. Now, according to official Australian government documents, the studio's total closure is imminent.

Multiple documents regarding Team Bondi have been filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission today, including one appointing a liquidator to the studio. A "special resolution to wind up company" was also filed today with the government agency.

Team Bondi's reputation was tarnished earlier this year when employee complaints about working conditions and credits omissions drew the attention of the International Game Developers Association. At the time, one of Team Bondi's senior-most developers said the studio would learn from its mistakes.

Despite the closure of Team Bondi, a PC iteration of L.A. Noire is due out on November 8. However, the game is being ported over by Rockstar Leeds.

Take-Two Interactive owns the rights to the L.A. Noire intellectual property, meaning the franchise could survive its original studio's demise. The game has already shipped 4 million units for Take-Two.

L.A. Noire follows Cole Phelps, a detective entangled in a violent web of vice, corruption, and crime in 1947 Los Angeles. Players jump into the seedy underworld of the metropolis and are tasked with solving a series of murders and other criminal offenses, ranging from arson and drug trafficking to racketeering.

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ResponsibleGame

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Great development skills can't serve as a substitute for poor management . As a company , it's vital to keep your employees happy and most importantly ensure that you're financially stable . I don't how the series might turn out if Rockstar decide to take a shot , but either way , Team Bondi have definitely left their mark .

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SimulationStim

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I turned off the "ding" sound and the "all clues found" music before I even started my first game. The game was about being a detective in 1950s LA. They advertised it as a game about being a detective in 1950s LA. All the previews said that it was a story driven game, where you could even skip the action sequences. It was about gathering clues and interrogating witnesses. And they pulled it off brilliantly. I got exactly what I expected, and I was more then happy with the 25 hours I pulled from the game for 70 bucks. Comparing that to a movie at 14 bucks for 2 hours, it was a steal for me. In fact, I recall one of my partners telling me he never had to pull a gun on duty, just like a lot of cops in "real life". Well, after Cole Phelps was done with him, he was cleaning gun shot residue and blood of his jacket.

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HYDROtheDON

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THEY HAVE 2 SHUT DOWN BECAUSE THE GAME IS BORING!!!!!

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BoabDreeps

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@2-red The likes of HBO and AMC continuously knock out TV shows that are miles better entertainment than this turd of a game. This may well be the 'BEST Interactive Movie', but it sucks as a gaming experience. The target audience for this title are all playing Wii games.

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BoabDreeps

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@Crypt1978 'Big Thumbs down' accepted, but don't feel sorry for me. I just expect a bit more for my money. I can get the same experience from a DVD. Just press pause every 5 minutes to wander aimlessly round my house. For added effect, my wife could ring a little bell whener I stand near something that might be interesting. Then go back and watch another 5 minutes of the movie. But hey, if that's the furture of gaming for you, who am I to argue?

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digi-demon

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Its a pity the 7yrs worth of extended developer costs crippled both the developers/R* - fine game but imo the development time was way too long.

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PhilRiker

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Good I hated La Noire. Examining dead naked women by bumping into the environment till I heard a musically note telling me to push A button and dialogue trees dont count as FUN gameplay for me personally.

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Andrex1212

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@RavenXavier Way to read the article... dumbass...

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gix47

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rockstar will make a part 2

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mynameis007

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no words(unspeachless) !! lol Anyone call of duty black ops if so tell me

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RavenXavier

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They BETTER make sure the PC Version still comes out or I'm gonna be pissed...

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ZeroX91

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Well duh, anyone who read the last story about them could tell you this was going to happen, it is unfortunate though.

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The_Godfather_

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such a tragic end for a good developer team..

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blasterchief

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@Dark_Infinite Um what are you trying to say . . .

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Dark_Infinite

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um GTA V anyone ?

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Unfallen_Satan

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@Valas_Azuviir To be honest, I have privately struggled with whether to support using public opinion to sway other's behavior. Although I have voiced strong opposition in this case, I did previously encourage fellow gamers to show their dissatisfaction with EA Origin's EULA in the hope that if enough gamers spoke up, EA would change certain provisions. In that case, I also concluded the best action is to find any illegality in the EULA and challenge it in court or try to the change the laws that govern EULA directly. Nevertheless, I have been inconsistent with my approach to using public pressure vs. relying on legal principles. I am still forming my position regarding how much weight is given to laws vs. public opinion. I have not thought about it much until this debate. Tentatively, I want to live in a society that permits or even encourages public opinion that leads to the debate and modification of the legal code so it better satisfies the need of the population. At the same time, I want to make it difficult for anyone to use public opinion to coerce others either before or even without attempting to alter existing laws. Laws are the contract of society; contracts are between sub-entities in society. Trying to force a change in others outside of any contract is an infringement of personal freedom and I will not accept it in the society I live in. This debate has helped me to clarify a bit of my own thinking and I am grateful. Thank you.

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Unfallen_Satan

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@Valas_Azuviir I have no problem with Rockstar's exercising its legal right to protect its investment, whether taking over the development of LA Noire or any other action. If this was the limit of its interference, then Rockstar has done nothing to warrant my concern. Even if they usurped the development of LA Noire through threats, hypothetically for example of forsaking all future dealings with TB or leaking information that would tarnish TB's reputation, even if true, would not be wrong doing in my opinion as long as it was legal. However, it would reflect what I consider a defect in the broader game publisher-developer relationship that I want to voice and hopefully help addressing in the future. If indeed TB employees that made public complaints about their working condition only sought to share their plight and made no attempt to coerce TB management, then I have been wrongfully critical of them. However, I am still against any general practice or mentality that would tempt any worker into thinking they could changer their employer's behavior through public pressure instead of legal action. If TB management has done anything illegal, then they may well see their day in court. I will fully support whatever is coming to them, but then I will wonder why legal accusations did not come before public outcry.

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InfamousPhilthy

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WOW Team Bondi. How did you let it come to this?

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Valas_Azuviir

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As for Rockstar. Afaik, they haven't given any official comments about the whole issue, everything has just been scuttlebutt. Then again, small industry and people talk. Hence why the various sites are able to pick up things. Seriously doubt that it's a concerted effort by the two groups against Team Bondi management. Just that the latter has managed to tick off a number of folks at once. They've burned their bridges with Sony, now with Rockstar, and the regular dev-grunts hate their guts. Really don't think there is any room to defend them. They chose to act like this, and now the chickens have come home to roost. Also going to be a pain for them to find a new Publisher. As it's likely that the other big ones will want nothing to do with Team Bondi management after all of this. Bad PR, development times that are far too big to be deemed acceptable (unless you're a Blizzard or Bioware), cost overruns. etc. Makes them far too big a gamble, considering the current business climate.

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Valas_Azuviir

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@Unfallen_Satan Thing is, we don't know what the contract between Rockstar and Team Bondi stated. Example: why should Rockstar go for conflict resolution, if they have a clause in the contract stating that if Milestones XYZ are not reached by time period A, that they'd have the right to intervene in the creation process. Because it's the nice thing to do? This is business. Being nice is a secondary concern at best. Making money is the primary concern, and you do that by creating a game, within a specific time frame, that sells. As for the management of Team Bondi not having done anything illegal. Wait and see about that. All rather dependent upon the exact Labour Laws in Australia, either on a Federal or State level. Seen some rumbling about the caveat that they put into contracts about overtime being paid, after the project was done and only to those who were with the company 3 months after project ending, may actually be in violation of existing Australian laws. Lastly, as for the bad PR thing. The former devs have made clear, that they're speaking up to warn others. Not just about Team Bondi, but that practices like these do exist in the industry and that one shouldn't put up with it.. (more)

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Crypt1978

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@BoabDreeps I logged in just to give you a BIG thumbs down. I feel sorry for people who have your point of view about such a wonderfully innovative and artistic game such as L.A. Noire. Surely a game that should be referenced when speaking of the humanities, along with Ico, Shadow of the Colossus and The Last gaurdian.

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robertwarnes91

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First Krome Studios, then Blue Tongue and now Team Bondi. It's sad to see the Australia gaming industry fall apart like this. We never got the planned Blade Kitten Episode 2 :(

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Unfallen_Satan

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@Valas_Azuviir There is certainly nothing illegal about doing that. I am not saying they shouldn't have done it. However, I find the attitude that "I don't like what you are doing so I am going to try to change you" offensive. I am not defending any possible wrongdoing by TB, I just feel the tone of the whole story has turned from "I disagree with you, so I am going to stop association. To help others like me, I will let them know my opinion of you." to "I don't like the way you do things, so I am going to cry to the whole world. You better change or else." Maybe it's just the coverage of these events. Maybe both Rockstar and TB staff just wanted to stop association with TB management and warn like-minded individuals of their bad experiences. I fully support that. Maybe I just cannot stand by while people pick on others who do things differently as though their own view is unequivocally right. So, I felt compelled to speak up. If nothing else, to defend TB management's right to be themselves; everyone has to right to decide how they feel or relate to TB, but no one has the right to force TB to change on non-legal principles.

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Unfallen_Satan

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@Valas_Azuviir I also agree that the development of L.A. Noire is storied, perhaps due in no small part to mismanagement at Team Bondi. However, that is not my problem with the way things turned out. Incompetence, difference with established industry practice, or I'd go so far as unethical behavior, even if present, should not be grounds for interference with other people's business; these are in my opinion subjective matters. If there is some breach of agreement, either between TB and its staff or between TB and Rockstar, then the injured party should bring their grievances through appropriate conflict resolution channels. I admire the staff that quit when they found they did not want to work with TB management. However, leaking details of the disagreement, such as too-long work hours or excessive development time or managerial misconduct, to the public in an attempt to force some kind of concession through public pressure instead of going through internal negotiation or outright legal action is anathema to me. The more I read about it, the more it seems like that's what both Rockstar and TB staff have done. Both groups found they did not like what TB management was doing and couldn't reach a compromise; however, there was no material breach of agreement that merited legal action. So, they intentionally or coincidentally colluded to try and sway public opinion by expanding the bad press for TB.

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Valas_Azuviir

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@Unfallen_Satan Many folks did quit, it took 7y to make LA Noire. See the article: Why Did L.A. Noire Take Seven Years To Make? over at IGN. As well as the << LINK REMOVED >> website. Then there were the leaked e-mails over at GamesIndustry.biz as well as even more material over at eurogamer.net As for the Rockstar/Team Bondi thing, Rockstar had initially had plans to make Team Bondi, Rockstar Sydney, But prolonged contact with Team Bondi management pretty much sunk that idea. And the only reason the game got done when it did was because of Rockstar, not because of the management team over at Team Bondi. Plus, because it was Rockstar who was footing the bill as well. Considering how ticked off both regular devs are, as well as Rockstar at the management, the chances of them being innocent choirboys is pretty much zilch.

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2-red

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@BoabDreeps You're entitled to your opinion, and yes, L.A. Noire could be interpreted as an "interactive movie". However, I would call it the BEST "interactive movie" to date, and what the hell is wrong with that?? I don't think a movie or even an HBO miniseries could have done this IP any justice. Mainly because I, personally, really enjoyed the so-called "pointless" playable parts of the game. What makes games superior to all other forms of media is the ability to set your own pace and explore the world as much or as little as you like. The reason for the difficulty being laughable at times is to accommodate a larger audience, namely older generations who don't enjoy being punished for not knowing staple gameplay conventions that the rest of us take for granted. The point is; love it or hate it, L.A. Noire is definitely a large step in the right direction. A game that ANY generation can find some appeal in.

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BoabDreeps

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I thought maybe a bit of time playing that piece of s**t game would wise people up to how shallow it was. Going by the comments here, it looks like the motion-capture gimick has stuck. It's sad to hear about anyone losing their jobs, but this game sucked big time. They could have made a movie with a fraction of that budget and saved us the time meandering through the pointless playable parts of this interactive movie. If R* have any sense they will slam a torpedo in to the side of this lacklustre IP.

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darkcomedian

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They don't deserve this. Not by a long shot.

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txgamerwavg

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Man that suck for losing a job for 100 hours for week. Ouch.

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Unfallen_Satan

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@Valas_Azuviir The fact that Rockstar even intervened in Team Bondi's operation is a concern to me. I believe as of its closing, TB was not a subsidiary of Rockstar. While in this case the intervention might have benefited both LA Noire and the staff of TB, I am against the system or practice that regularly permits large publishers to interfere with non-conforming developers using their publishing deal as leverage. It introduces a level of complexity and potential abuse not present between book publishers and individual authors. I confess I would not want to work in a 12-hour day, 7-day week environment. However, during my graduate student days, 12-hour day, 6-day work week did happen. I didn't mind because I loved the work. If the management at TB just wanted to use its staff as slave labor, then the staff could surely have quit or even sued, like Infinity Ward staff have done, if laws or contracts were broken. If they were working on something they love and it needed all that time, I don't see the reason for their complaint. The worst thing that could have happened would be the staff exploited the conflict between Rockstar and Team Bondi to try to force a change in their work condition through non-contractual means. In that case, I actually feel sorry from TB management, since there might not have been any wrong-doing at all.

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Reuwsaat

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Great talent never goes to waste. Hope they are contracted by a better company than R*.

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Kastigador

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If had to guess, they're closing down because of government intervention, essentially. Whenever the government gets involved and the media is covering it, it basically suffocates everyone with red tape and legal manuvering. The studio didn't have much of a brand value yet being under the shadow of rockstar, so it makes perfect sense to shut down, reorganize and hire most the staff back, and leave the whole worker quality of life debacle under a skeleton company name. There will be sequel for sure.

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be_skeptical

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So why are they closing? All of the articles on this just say they are closing, but there is no reason given.

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MERGATROYDER

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Wow. How many Australian studios have been closed this year? I haven't had time to pick it up/play L.A. Noir, but I'm really looking forward to it soon. Sad news for a studio that produced such a well received title.

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Blackheart_RE

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I hope they don't do a half-ass port on the PC like they did with GTA4

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DJCartmell

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Oh noooooooooooooooo! What a waste of a good franchise and development team!

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atarigrad

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Just another example of corporations answer to no one. While small business owners pay the price. Not just in the US but globally. Sad but I'll bet these talented people open a new studio within months. I'm sure EA or THQ would sign a deal with them. Microsoft if smart should create a new studio with this group.

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TheGreyArea

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after literally being responsible for pushing a vital area of gaming forward, with their use of their innovative motion capture technology, it is a huge shame to see their ship sink. I hope they can at least be content in the legacy they have left, and more so in what that tech' will go-on to provide future games. shame.

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Ificationer

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[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

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mull20641

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Wow Australian developers are useless...They finally make a top notch AAA game with critical and commercial success and they still go down.

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shkar

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what a shame !!! LA Noire was just EPIC !!! Amazing by all standards,,,,,,,,,I don't know what is happening to people nowadays !!!!!!!!

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adam1808

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At least they didn't go out with a whimper, we'll always remember them as the studio that stuck with it

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J_Dangerously

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@Neo_Sarevok I think you underestimate Rockstar. They've been slowly building up a reliable stable of IPs since GTA III's success. GTA, Bully, Red Dead, and now LA Noire. They're not going to toss away a profitable franchise simply because of a few bad decisions by Team Bondi's management. They'll most likely absorb and re-hire a large chunk of the dev team under a new Rockstar branch fully owned by Take Two. I wouldn't be surprised to see a sequel some time during the next-gen console phase.

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CTR360

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bad news la noire its amazing game

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Neo_Sarevok

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@ Ratatoskr321 I doubt there will even be an LA Noire 2. Hell, we'll be lucky to get anymore of the new cases they said they'd release.

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Sendmn23

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this is what happens when you have a bad management team... had they kept things cool with Rockstar I seriously doubt this would be happening.... oh well lesson learned. The former management team at team bondi can think about it while they stand in the unemployment line. to bad for the rest of the guys though... I hope they find jobs soon.

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mingolo

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Wow, they get worked to exhaustion, release an awesome game that gets great reviews and sells fantastically.....and they go under. I feel bad for Team Bondi's employees right now, and I don't say this often.

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attentaeter85

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I hate hearing about people losing a job. I hope they all find something.

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