DevourerOfTime

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My Game Developer & Publisher Shit List

Hey, did you know? Capitalism is bad and the people who make the major decisions in this industry end up being capitalists of just truly shitty proportions. Abusive practices, harassment of their employees, underpaying, breaking of labour laws, actively including content that is racist, transphobic, white supremacist, etc, and hundreds of other abuses that, even if I didn't work adjacent to this industry, I would find inexcusable.

So here's the developers I've decided that, hey, maybe I shouldn't give money to these assholes if I can help it.

This is a living list and will be added to as more developers and publishers have their shittiness dragged out into the light.

Remember: Fucking Unionize.

List items

  • The one that started it all. The EA Spouse blog dragged this shit into the light for the first time for many people outside of the industry. I have heard for years to stay away from EA unless I want to be chewed up and spat out.

  • Fuck Activision.

    That's all. That's the explanation.

    Fuck em.

  • While ND deserves inclusion for the sexual abuse of a developer by one of the executives of the company being swept under the rug, 2020's release of The Last of Us 2 really opened the floodgates on just how shitty it is to work at Naughty Dog.

    And it has nothing to do with the office pet policy.

  • Never put a company on a pedestal when they haven't earned that spot. A bit of free Witcher 3 dlc and people were ready to claim they were the second coming of Jesus fucking Christ.

    But if Cyberpunk 2077 will be remembered for anything (and, given the reviews so far, it's not gonna be for being a revolutionary game), it's going to be just how much shit CDPR decided they could get away with when they dangle the shiniest toy in front of the gaming public.

    Because between transphobic PR reps, grossly misguided attempts at "representation" that somehow managed to make adding transgender options more transphobic than leaving them out, white supremacy memes in the text of the game, crunching developers, promising you're not going to crunch your developers and crunching them anyways, promising you're not going to crunch your developers and having it exposed that *you've already been crunching your developers for almost a year*, some truly ugly and out of left field antisemitism, becoming the gold standard for "edgelord marketing" in video games, and, not least of all, creating a game that is shockingly similar to what one would make if they wanted to *kill people with epilepsy*, I don't want to even give this studio my attention let alone my money.

    I deleted my Good Old Games account at the first disgusting thing they pulled on that list. The fact that it got so much worse has not made me regret that decision.

  • One of the few times I will ever be glad that the rights for games were in the hands of the publisher, not the developer.

    Fuck you Mike Z.

  • 2020 is a year we all want to forget, but if you remember one thing from this year, remember just how badly executives at Ubisoft sexually harassed and abused their employees.

    Dec 2021: aaand now they're doing NFTs

  • Reminder: Rockstar had their developers working 100+ hour weeks to make Red Dead Redemption 2.

    That's approximately less than 12 hours off a week if we assume they were also getting a healthy amount of sleep, which they no doubt weren't.

  • I mean, I already mentioned EA so BioWare should be implied from that, but Bioware deserves some special mention over just how the crunch culture at this game developer (tied with EA's ruthlessness on meeting release dates) have resulted in their last two games being utter failures that more care, better management, and less ridiculous demands from the publisher could have easily been classics of their respective genres.

  • Not even when getting Disney money did Epic Games ever pay those kids they stole those dances from. Or stop crunching the Fortnite team from what I've heard.

    Here's a good trick tho: Always claim the free games on the Epic Game Store. It's a pretty reliable way to take Epic's money and throw it to a developer that deserves it more than they do.

    So yeah, there are valid reasons to hate on Epic. They don't have to involve you being a racist pig and basing it's on them being partly owned by a Chinese company (Somehow I am supposed to believe that is worse than it being owned by an American one) and/or you being a simp for Gabe Newell.

    Oh, and speaking of Valve...

  • Fuck Valve.

    They've had over a decade to curb their community around steam from being an alt-right breeding ground and a haven for harassing developers, but haven't done a single fucking thing. And I'm sick of it. If I never have to buy a game on Steam again, it'll be too soon.

    And it's not just Steam that cements Valve on this list. Their corporate structure, while being praised on a surface level for being "flatter" than most companies and "not having bosses", hides this clique-y power dynamic that leaves every developer in a state of anxiety, fear, backstabbing, and cutthroat competition with their other employees.

    Turns out structure is important, especially the part of structure that protects employees.

  • I shouldn't have to tell you why Amazon can go to hell at this point.

  • More crunching developers, but with a disgusting twist!

    Some artists who worked on the most recent Mortal Kombat have reported experiencing PTSD due to them being required to look at *real, actual victims of extreme violence* as reference material.

    If I could kill one thing in this industry (besides abuse of developers in its many forms), it would be the strive for realism.

    Because you know what's better than realistic physics of an eyeball dangling out of its socket? Three rib cages exploding out of someone's chest comically.

    Every. Fucking. Time.

  • Mostly for crunch, but I'm still wtf'ing over those torture porn death scenes in the Tomb Raider reboots seven years later.

  • CEO has exploited employees and developers of games they've published and continues to be a racist, anti-Semitic, sexist trashbag.

  • Run by a literal, actual nazi.

  • Dangen was pretty close to falling off this list, but not fully cutting ties with former CEO Ben Judd after his sexual abuse/harassment/assault was exposed kind of prevents this company from ever being respected again unless there was a serious shakeup.

  • Those in position of power either are sexual predators or have protected sexual predators, have made the studio incredibly unsafe for women.

  • A writer for Arenanet was viciously harassed by gamers for the crime of... [papers rustling]... let's see here... [more papers rustling]... refusing to be told how to do her job unsolicited by some gamer online.

    Obviously Arenanet took the steps to deescalate the situation, protect their writer who had done nothing wrong, punish those in the community that were leading the harassment campaign against the writer, and let this nontroversy blow over.

    You know, if they were a competent company. But instead the president of the company himself bowed to the harassment campaign and fired her. And fired anyone else at the company who defended her.

    Arenanet not only loudly proclaimed to their staff and fans, but the industry as a whole: harassment campaigns can work. And they sure as hell do work at Arenanet, no matter how misogynistic, anti-Semitic, and vicious they are.

    Broke my heart to delete my Guild Wars 2 account, but this is not a company I ever want to support.

  • The only game developer to my knowledge that had a gender discrimination lawsuit against them be settled (because who cares about justice when money is the true American form of justice) resulting in them having to pay a settlement to *every woman who ever worked for them*.

    Plus, I'm preeeettty sure Anthony Burch still works there.

  • Founder and CCO has been accused of sexual harassment and abuse. Oddly got his start at Ubisoft. *thinking emoji*

    Huh. Seems like protecting and promoting abusers will then make the rest of the medium worse as they spread worse their toxicity across the entire industry.

  • Randy... Randy... Randy.. Bo Bandy...

    Oh Rannnndyyy...

  • Actively collaborate and work with serial abusers.

  • There is not one game from this studio that hasn't been homophobic or transphobic. Please SEGA: I know you're one of the best companies to work for as an LGBTQ+ developer in Japan, but you really have to spread that to your subsidiaries.

  • Making games based around racist stereotypes is never a good look.

  • As per a gameindustry.biz article written on Jan 25th, 2021: "One former employee described an incident that occurred during a team meeting on Season, where one group was presenting its idea to have the main character, Abby, be able to play the guitar. Someone remarked in front of the group that this feature "wasn't realistic" because the guitar was too complicated for a woman, and that she should play a ukulele instead. This remark went unchallenged."

  • Patenting the Nemesis system is anti-consumer, anti-developer, and just pure greed. This sets an extremely dangerous precedent for the entire game industry and some corporate fucks are the genesis of it.

  • I feel I should remake this list to put this at number 1 because reordering it would be somehow dishonest to me.

  • Stole artwork from artists in his games to sell NFTs of. Fuck that.

  • I know I included Activision already, but I might as well include all the developers under that whole shit bubble that have some serious restructuring to do to ever get a cent from me again.

    Blizzard is just the hardest one of the bunch. It was my favourite developer for many years. I've played everyone of their games. I was still even playing Hearthstone daily up until the reports came out.

    Now I can't even stomach looking at their games.

  • Fuck Konami

  • Hey did you know Netflix is making games now?

    Fuck those transphobic pricks!

  • There's shitty microtransactions, and then there is wargaming.

  • Scratch that. There's shitty microtransactions, then there is charging thousands of dollars for a ship in a game that is not out yet.

  • Just a supreme piece of shit.

  • Remember when they did an AMA on a site notorious for its pedophilia and a far-right cesspool? I do.

    Says all you need to know about the people in charge of that company!

  • It's an old wound at this point, but I'll never forgive them for partnering with TotalBiscuit when he was in full "chase women out of video games with pitchforks and torches" mode during Gamergate.

    Rest in Piss, you shit cracker.

  • Speaking of youtubers being incredibly shitty and developers associated with them doing nothing about it!

    In 2017, Jontron said some just deeply racist shit on the internet. Like just the type of shit that will get you sideyed by Republicans for saying the quiet part out loud.

    It took less than 24 hours for his voice to be removed from Yooka Laylee. It's been 4 years and the same has not been done in A Hat In Time.

  • December 2021. Another month, another expose on some big developer being absolute shit.

  • Forgot to include ol King.com in the ABK trifecta.

  • So when you buy a company, you buy their problems and responsibilities too.

    Now I'm not saying Microsoft won't do the right thing, just that they haven't yet. Until my sources at ABK are happy, I'm not happy.

  • Microsoft

  • *picture of me with tears streaming down my face pointing a gun at the double fine baby*

    Microsoft.

  • Microsoft

  • Microsoft

  • Microsoft

  • Microsoft

  • Microsoft

  • Forgot to include them under Activision

  • Microsoft

  • Microsoft

  • Microsoft

  • Microsoft

  • Microsoft

  • Microsoft

  • Microsoft

  • Microsoft

  • Microsoft

  • Microsoft

  • Microsoft

  • Microsoft

  • Not just because they're Microsoft. More workplace allegations of sexism, harassment, bullying, forced burnout, etc.

    But this one is not due to Microsoft meddling, but Microsoft's hands-off approach. Undead Labs ballooned and management floundered.

    Read the whole report on Kotaku about it for more info.

  • Workplace abuse and blackmailing employees.

  • A workplace full of sexism, racism, abuse, ableism, and really disgusting "justifications" for rape. Has a policy where you can say anything and you will not be fired or reprimanded for it (hence the blatant racism and sexism)

    Thank you Venturebeat for writing the exposé on this behaviour.

  • Sexism. Workplace harassment. Systemic sexism. Hope the 9 women (and counting) that are involved in the lawsuit against Sony take that shit all the way to the bank and live their best lives.

    Hope Sony does the right thing and cleans house of those who allowed this to happen.

    Thank you to Axios for publishing the story on these findings.

  • Ken Wong emotionally and verbally abused his employees, especially women, which ultimately lead to one developer attempting suicide.

    Thank you to People Make Games for publishing a video exploring this harassment.

  • Ken Wong's studio. Creator of Florence and Monument Valley.

    Currently Ken Wong is the only employee after the studio imploded from his harassment.

    Play the games the studio made because many wonderful people made them, but just don't pay for them.

  • While Steve Gaynor has stepped down from Fullbright after the Polygon article talking about his abuse of his employees, I still won't ever willingly buy a new game with his name attached to it.

  • Complicit in Ken Wong's abuse of his employees. When word of Ken's behaviour got out, Annapurna actively encouraged Ken to close Mountains and reopen another studio with people who would be more easily abused.

    No one was identified as forming this plan and policies within the company and Annapurna has refused to comment on or investigate this incident. This leaves the entire company complicit.

    Annapurna is a publisher. They do not make the games they sell. If there is no way to pay the developers for the games they made without Annapurna benefiting, I will be pirating them.

  • This one hurt to hear about.

    Robin has been a part of the indie scene for a long time and has done a lot of work on gender inequality in the game industry.

    But hearing about her extensive emotional abuse of her employees is sickening.

  • Robin Hunicke's studio.

  • Yo fuck Roblox. All my homies hate Roblox and their exploitative practices.