Following the news of Epic Games’ ongoing crunch with Fortnite, former NetherRealm Studios developers reported their work abuses on Twitter.
If the mood of the video games industry from Telltale Games’ shuttering onwards has told us, it’s that the game industry is long overdue for unionization. There are way too many abuses of the workforce in creating video games that generate millions and billions of dollars for its corporations, and NetherRealm Studios is just one of many companies that are reportedly engaging in harmful practices to its employees.
It was @jlongstreet on Twitter who read Polygon’s report on the culture of ongoing crunch at Epic Games that kicked off the conversation of how NetherRealm treats its employees when working on video games such as their Mortal Kombat franchise, embracing the inherent whistle-blowing nature of their behavior by sharing their experience making Mortal Kombat 9.
“Working at NetherRealm on MK9 nearly killed me,” they wrote. “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.” They go on to explain how they made a 1% raise over three years, took one day off between Jan. 1, 2011 and Day 1 patch certification, and how it’s reportedly worse now with crunch going on since September for Mortal Kombat 11.
Becca Hallstedt saw the thread and added their experience working with NRS over the course of five months, getting paid less than male counterparts for their work, how women were too “distracting” for men to be included for scrum meetings, and a host of other problems. PC Gamer posted other sources to further detail the reports of NetherRealm work culture, with Warner Bros. Interactive not responding for requests to comment ahead of publication.
The fact that so many workers experience unhealthy levels of crunch at harmful levels of pay continue to highlight reasons why those working in the non-management video games industry need unionization. That way, workers will be able to work in solidarity to earn better a work-life balance in work hours, benefits and actually being able to take time off from work. Without it, this life-sucking lifestyle will continue to be the norm, not the exception.