Exploitation of developers 'is getting worse'

Exploitation of developers 'is getting worse'
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

May 4th 2012 at 3:23PM

'If a publisher wants to find something that is wrong with a milestone, it's very easy for them to do' says David Doak

The exploitation of developers by publishers has been getting worse over the last few years, the co-founder of Free Radical has claimed.

In an interview with Eurogamer, David Doak spoke frankly about his experiences creating Timesplitters, Second Sight and the cancelled Battlefront 3, and said some publishers were happy to exploit workers to get games made.

He said that those who were passionate about creating titles were encouraged to endure “all kinds of abuse” to do their job, and feels it has only got worse in recent years.

"Everyone knows all the horror stories about development, and it's a real shame, because it turns people off it in the end,” said Doak.

“There's this aspect open to exploitation where because it's your dream job, doing something you really love, you should endure all kinds of abuse to do it. Having watched it from the sidelines for the last few years, it seems to have gotten worse.

“It's just this big furnace that burns people. It's like that thing, where if you enjoy sausages you shouldn't see how they're made. That applies to games."

Doak claimed that despite hitting agreed milestones for the Battlefront 3 project, publisher Lucasarts began to use “stalling tactics”, and hadn’t paid the studio’s workers for six months during development, as it was ready to pass on the work to Rebellion.

"If a publisher wants to find something that is wrong with a milestone, it's very easy for them to do so as there are so many grey areas within a deliverable,” he said.

“If the contract says, 'Graphics for level X to be release quality,' who can say what's release quality? And there you have it."

Former audio director Graeme Norgate added: "LucasArts hadn't paid us for six months, and were refusing to pass a milestone so we would limp along until the money finally ran out. They knew what they were doing, and six months of free work to pass on to Rebellion wasn't to be sniffed at.”