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.

  • 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 here, 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.

    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.