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This Week in Games - The Leaks of Us


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maximilianjenus



Joined: 29 Apr 2013
Posts: 2181
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 12:33 pm Reply with quote
Yeah, the whole crunch time story sounds bogus as hell; according to my friends ( who care more about this than me) most of the people who quit naughty dog/this project were seniors who knew exactly how crunch time works and it seems that a toxic working environment was the thing at fault.
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AngryMoM



Joined: 16 Sep 2015
Posts: 51
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:02 pm Reply with quote
Didn't even know there were huge leaks. So glad i rarely use social media.
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#810704



Joined: 15 Mar 2014
Posts: 62
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:12 pm Reply with quote
Apparently, the genesis of this whole dispute wasn’t just the pay. It was only part it, and from the rumours going round, and the situation may have been pretty dire for the people who worked at ND.
Hundreds of furloughed staff had approached Naughty Dog to ask for an advance on the post release bonus they are contractually obligated to receive. To those who don’t know a very common industry practice is to underpay workers during production and promise them huge bonus six months after the games' release. The more the game sells, the bigger the bonus they receive. As such, employees had made plans around this bonus (weddings, buy a house, send kids to college, etc.) on the premise it would make its initial release date. Then the corona virus happened, which resulted in the game being delayed indefinitely, and all those plans going up in flames..

As a good chunk of the employees had BARELY been paid for the work, they were hoping to use their bonuses to weather the storm, so that they and their families could get by. But Naughty Dog flat out refused the request to advance them even a portion of their future bonus. According to an insider "the employee was told that his contract stated he would be paid out 6 months after the game released OR not at all". The employee was threatened with termination for making the request. The studio was worried more employees would demand their bonuses now if they gave this one employee his bonus early. To add insult to injury, senior staff (including Neil Druckmann) asked for and received their bonuses early. This pissed off the majority of employees at Naughty Dog.

The leaks were a way of forcing the studio to release the game sooner rather then later. By forcing their hand, it meant the bonuses could have been given to fellow employees earlier rather than potentially waiting till God knows when to get the money owed. It wasn’t just to stick it to ND. Even so, it’s impossible to verify any of this given the nature of this dispute so take it with a grain of salt, we’ll have to wait and see as more stuff comes out. Either way this isn’t painting a good look for the company.


Last edited by #810704 on Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:16 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Greed1914
It's Over 9000!It's Over 9000!


Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 3489
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:13 pm Reply with quote
The Last of Us leaks are really disappointing to see so close to release. Thanks to comments sections and the Youtube algorithm recommending videos that had spoilers in the titles a day after I watched news videos reporting that leaks were out there, I've at least got the broad strokes.

That said, I'm actually kind of intrigued to see what they do with it. There are aspects in what I've seen that make it understandable why some wouldn't like it, but lots of stories don't look good if you've only got the big story beats and not everything in between. Plus, some of it still seems to fit within the overall theme of this particular game. So yeah, despite it seemingly not being the popular thing to say right now, count me as someone who still plans to buy the game.

The bit about it being a disgruntled employee does have some credibility based on recent reports and comments from former employees. On the other hand, I would think that someone fed up with the company would have enough empathy for their coworkers that went through it with them to not do something like this. Going through that just to have if fall apart at the finish line would be devastating. Even Jason Schreier, the guy who wrote an extensive article just recently about the crunch problem at Naughty Dog apparently thought it was going too far. I've also seen some speculation that it had to do with a pay dispute, but I'm not sure I believe that since the leaker would have to know that Sony would almost certainly end up suing them for far more than the employee was owed. I guess the reasons could be true, but it would take things being bad enough that somebody just plain didn't care how destructive it was to their coworkers or themselves I'm certainly not condoning crunch culture, but the typical response to it seems to be to quit and maybe talk about bad experiences, rather than damage the game itself.
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BadNewsBlues



Joined: 21 Sep 2014
Posts: 4129
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:44 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
(read: 2K Games holds exclusive rights so you have no choice)


Any company whose made WWE games has held exclusive rights before 2K, it was THQ, before them it was........LJN.

This isn’t like Madden and NFL 2K where the NFL offered up exclusive rights after years of multiple publishers making NFL licenses games and EA won the bid.
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AiddonValentine



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 1787
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:46 pm Reply with quote
-TLOU2: Hoo boy, this one is complicated. Yeah, the leak sucks for people, especially those who devoted years of their lives to it. But then again, maybe Naughty Dog should have seen this coming what with their horrible history of crunch and then guys like Druckmann playing "Oh woe is me!" even though he's senior staff and doesn't deal with that on the same level as the people in the trenches. People have their breaking point and even if it's selfish and nonsensical, they will do things to get retribution because they have had enough. If anything, I find is to just be another example of how dysfunctional a lot of "AAA" development is.

-WWE: Speaking of which, looks like the WWE continues its clown show when it comes to video games. I hope whatever wrestling game Yukes is working on is good. Though what I really want is for CAPCOM to bring back Saturday Night Slam Masters
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Kaylee Smerbeck



Joined: 26 Jul 2017
Posts: 72
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:58 pm Reply with quote
I knew someone who's dad worked for Naughty Dog. He never came home and gained a fair bit of weight
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Beatdigga



Joined: 26 Oct 2003
Posts: 3050
Location: Here!
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:09 pm Reply with quote
The WWE dumpster fire to put out another, larger dumpster fire has just made me hope AEW can make a game and make something halfway decent.

TLOU2 sounds like a train wreck, but given the history of Naughty Dog with their culture and the rumors of people hired, I’m not surprised. Not like I was ever going to play the game, but this is just the sort of thing they deserve.
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meiam



Joined: 23 Jun 2013
Posts: 2666
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:25 pm Reply with quote
#810704 wrote:
Apparently, the genesis of this whole dispute wasn’t just the pay. It was only part it, and from the rumours going round, and the situation may have been pretty dire for the people who worked at ND.
Hundreds of furloughed staff had approached Naughty Dog to ask for an advance on the post release bonus they are contractually obligated to receive. To those who don’t know a very common industry practice is to underpay workers during production and promise them huge bonus six months after the games' release. The more the game sells, the bigger the bonus they receive. As such, employees had made plans around this bonus (weddings, buy a house, send kids to college, etc.) on the premise it would make its initial release date. Then the corona virus happened, which resulted in the game being delayed indefinitely, and all those plans going up in flames..

As a good chunk of the employees had BARELY been paid for the work, they were hoping to use their bonuses to weather the storm, so that they and their families could get by. But Naughty Dog flat out refused the request to advance them even a portion of their future bonus. According to an insider "the employee was told that his contract stated he would be paid out 6 months after the game released OR not at all". The employee was threatened with termination for making the request. The studio was worried more employees would demand their bonuses now if they gave this one employee his bonus early. To add insult to injury, senior staff (including Neil Druckmann) asked for and received their bonuses early. This pissed off the majority of employees at Naughty Dog.

The leaks were a way of forcing the studio to release the game sooner rather then later. By forcing their hand, it meant the bonuses could have been given to fellow employees earlier rather than potentially waiting till God knows when to get the money owed. It wasn’t just to stick it to ND. Even so, it’s impossible to verify any of this given the nature of this dispute so take it with a grain of salt, we’ll have to wait and see as more stuff comes out. Either way this isn’t painting a good look for the company.


I mean, the reason those are set in the future isn't because company like to be dick to their employee, it's because they literally don't have the money before the game ship and sell. It's an ugly situation, but it's not like there's no rational to it.
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#810704



Joined: 15 Mar 2014
Posts: 62
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:40 pm Reply with quote
meiam wrote:
#810704 wrote:
Apparently, the genesis of this whole dispute wasn’t just the pay. It was only part it, and from the rumours going round, and the situation may have been pretty dire for the people who worked at ND.
Hundreds of furloughed staff had approached Naughty Dog to ask for an advance on the post release bonus they are contractually obligated to receive. To those who don’t know a very common industry practice is to underpay workers during production and promise them huge bonus six months after the games' release. The more the game sells, the bigger the bonus they receive. As such, employees had made plans around this bonus (weddings, buy a house, send kids to college, etc.) on the premise it would make its initial release date. Then the corona virus happened, which resulted in the game being delayed indefinitely, and all those plans going up in flames..

As a good chunk of the employees had BARELY been paid for the work, they were hoping to use their bonuses to weather the storm, so that they and their families could get by. But Naughty Dog flat out refused the request to advance them even a portion of their future bonus. According to an insider "the employee was told that his contract stated he would be paid out 6 months after the game released OR not at all". The employee was threatened with termination for making the request. The studio was worried more employees would demand their bonuses now if they gave this one employee his bonus early. To add insult to injury, senior staff (including Neil Druckmann) asked for and received their bonuses early. This pissed off the majority of employees at Naughty Dog.

The leaks were a way of forcing the studio to release the game sooner rather then later. By forcing their hand, it meant the bonuses could have been given to fellow employees earlier rather than potentially waiting till God knows when to get the money owed. It wasn’t just to stick it to ND. Even so, it’s impossible to verify any of this given the nature of this dispute so take it with a grain of salt, we’ll have to wait and see as more stuff comes out. Either way this isn’t painting a good look for the company.


I mean, the reason those are set in the future isn't because company like to be dick to their employee, it's because they literally don't have the money before the game ship and sell. It's an ugly situation, but it's not like there's no rational to it.


The delay in the bonuses in of itself wouldn't have caused the situation as stuff like this tends to happen. That isn't what set them off. What set them off was the fact that people like Neil Druckmann (aka the people responsible for their poor working conditions to begin with) asked for the SAME thing and got it in advance, whilst everyone else was left to fend for themselves. That was the breaking point apparently. As you said though, this situation is ugly, no two ways about it and am sure it's about to get a whole lot worse, given Sony won't take it lying down.
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jellybeanbandit



Joined: 18 Jun 2019
Posts: 99
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:00 pm Reply with quote
Beatdigga wrote:
TLOU2 sounds like a train wreck, but given the history of Naughty Dog with their culture and the rumors of people hired, I’m not surprised. Not like I was ever going to play the game, but this is just the sort of thing they deserve.


Naughty Dog went downhill when Neil Druckmann fired Amy Hennig from the company and took over her stuff for himself. The new TLOU spoilers sound hilarious if true (hard to fake high quality videos like that, though)
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getumbuck



Joined: 15 Feb 2008
Posts: 131
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 5:01 pm Reply with quote
jellybeanbandit wrote:


Naughty Dog went downhill when Neil Druckmann fired Amy Hennig from the company and took over her stuff for himself. The new TLOU spoilers sound hilarious if true (hard to fake high quality videos like that, though)


Amy Henning is a legend, when it comes to writing amazing video game stories. I will always respect the lady who gave us the Legacy of Kain series. What Neil Druckmann did to her is insulting in every sense of the word. That alone is reason enough for me to never buy one of their games.

After having read the spoilers, I sort of feel bad for any fans of the series. The story seems pretty horrible.
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SilvaStreamer



Joined: 29 Jan 2018
Posts: 5
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 6:12 pm Reply with quote
I don't support leaks of any sort but I feel that they had it coming for them. Delaying the game 3 times is not a good excuse. They were being perfectionists and wanting to get GOTY again by not releasing the game at a promised date.
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Kaylee Smerbeck



Joined: 26 Jul 2017
Posts: 72
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 6:26 pm Reply with quote
Maybe performance compensation isn't a good idea
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DavetheUsher



Joined: 19 May 2014
Posts: 355
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 7:25 pm Reply with quote
Kaylee Smerbeck wrote:
Maybe performance compensation isn't a good idea


In the real world performance compensation is perfectly fine since it's based on meritocracy. A salesman making commission for each sale they close is pretty common and I don't see anything wrong with rewarding their skill at it. But in the realm of video games you get weird clauses like games having to reach certain Metacritic review score averages, which is completely arbitrary and completely in the hands of random people at hundreds of online outlets rather than the people who actually worked on the game itself. Some angry dude at some random website having a bad day getting mad at your game can cost you a bonus which seems pretty silly. The video game industry is just weird and a lot younger than other business models.

As far as leaks go, hey, it worked. Hours after the videos popped up suddenly The Last of Us 2 got a release date. Magically and totally coincidentally, I'm sure Laughing Even if you disagree with the method, they sure knew how to light a fire under Naughty Dog's butt and get that game to come out. Don't have any interest in the game myself, but with all the people upset at crunch time and game dev treatment, looks like someone finally did something about it after everyone else just kept doing the tweet/article of "crunch time bad, stop it" and nothing being done about it. Actions speak louder than words in the end..
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