Test Drive Unlimited dev goes on strike - Report

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

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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.
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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