One of Australia's most promising studios faces closure
Team Bondi, the LA Noire developer engulfed in a working practices scandal, has entered administration.
The Sydney studio, which at its peak had employed over 100 staff, now faces closure. An administrator will, by convention, seek to reshape the business so it can continue as a going concern.
However, it appears that the Team Bondi management and some of its staff have already resigned to the fact that the studio will close. Employees are already in deep discussions with other companies.
Develop understands that some Team Bondi assets and many of its staff are being transferred to Kennedy Miller Mitchell (KMM) – a Sydney production studio that works across a range of media, including games.
An insider, who engages with both companies locally, has said that many, or all, Team Bondi employees have been offered a job at KMM.
A Team Bondi spokesperson declined to comment on the matter when approached by Develop. A statement from the company was sought though had not materialised.
Troubles for Team Bondi began when a group of developers claimed they had been unfairly removed from the LA Noire credits roll.
That sparked further whistleblowing from former studio staff, some of which claimed to have worked 100-hour weeks, including weekends, in order to meet project milestones.
Then internal emails began to leak and circulate, many of which detailed further the controversial work practices at Team Bondi.
The overtime scandal began to engulf Team Bondi – an independent studio which relies on reputation to win work contracts.
The company may have escalated the problem itself by not issuing any statements that challenged the overtime allegations, save for one opinion piece written by a senior developer.
Team Bondi’s collapsing business will be a momentous loss for the Australian games industry.
The studio had a promising future ahead after it finished development on debut project LA Noire, a game that won critical and commercial acclaim. The crime epic is, to date, the UK’s second-biggest selling game at retail in 2011.
LA Noire’s spectacle of advanced facial animation technology had wowed even film critics, and it has been long-rumoured that Rockstar will use the same tech for many of its future games.
These circumstances combined gave the impression that Australia had found its new flagship studio in Team Bondi, a pioneer for the new age of triple-A games.
But the group's fall from grace couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Australia had for many years suffered massive studio closures, such as with Krome, and was generally considered to be in decline before Team Bondi broke onto the scene.
Now Team Bondi is set to leave the industry as Australia suffers even further losses. THQ recently closed down two studios in the country, bringing an end to more than 100 Australian jobs.