Mortal Kombat Devs Speak Out About “Severe Crunch” at Studio
Various developers from NetherRealm Studios, of Mortal Kombat 11 fame, have come out with stories of the "crunch culture."
Lately news has been coming out about working condition at some gaming studios, from Rockstar Games to Epic Games. Mortal Kombat 11‘s NetherRealm isn’t exempt from the list, according to various tweets from full-time workers and multiple contractors as well as a new article from PC Gamer.
Once such account from James Longstreet, a software engineer at NetherRealm for two years, is quite telling of the “crunch culture” that pervaded the studio:
it's been 8 years, and they've made it clear to me that I'm persona non grata there anyway so, fuck it: working at NetherRealm on MK9 nearly killed me. I didn't sleep more than 4 hours for months. from january to april 2011 i was at work more than half of the time
— Jiminy Snackmouth (@jlongstreet) April 23, 2019
The entire Twitter thread describes his experience in full detail. And Beck Hallstedt, who contributed to Injustice 2 as a contract concept artist, adds tales of her own trials at NetherRealm, which according to her own Twitter thread came with even more discriminatory practices:
i know women that were not included in scrum meetings because they were "distracting" for the guys
— bonka honkstedt (@beccahallstedt) April 24, 2019
Former contracted QA analyst Rebecca Rothschild corroborates Beck’s story:
I worked as a contractor at NRS and can confirm everything @beckhallstedt has laid out here. Lots of amazing people work at NRS, but there are serious, systemic issues that need to be addressed. https://t.co/Q7XPDgzcJ2
— Rebecca Rothschild (@RBonksR) April 25, 2019
And previous QA tester Isaac Torres, who worked at NetherRealm on Injustice and is now a designer at Iron Galaxy states: “I crunched for about 4 months straight…I was regularly doing 90-100 hour weeks and worked every single day.
“I was tired all the time. It took me about 30-45 mins to get home since I had to take a bus. But I know someone who stayed on the couch in the office to not risk falling asleep while driving. I literally had no life for several months. There just wasn’t time. I would get to work at 9 or 10 am. I would leave at 2-3 am. And then that process would mostly repeat itself. Honestly, I have no clue how I did it. I’m pretty sure I aged 20 years in the span of three months.”
There are plenty more stories from other developers, some who remained anonymous due to fear of blacklisting and retribution. But one message is clear — the conditions laid out here are troubling and must be addressed in order to create a better environment for those who work hard to bring us such great games.
There was recent backlash involving Mortal Kombat 11 the game itself due to the difficulty of the Towers of Time mode. And before then in lighter news, some of the main developers revealed their favorite fatalities in a video.
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