Former Gameloft Employee Worked Insane Hours, Felt Company Wanted ‘Quantity Over Quality’

By on July 18, 2011

Early this morning, I came across an article about a former Head Studio Programmer at Gameloft who worked 120 hours a week. I posted this article on Twitter to see what the gaming community had to say about this.

For those who aren’t familiar with Gameloft: They’re a Paris-based developer and publisher, founded by the Guillemot brothers, founders of Ubisoft, with offices all around the world. You might have heard of some of their iOS games, like N.O.V.A., Gangstar: Crime City, 9mm and dozens of others. They’ve also released games for PC, Mac, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

It turns out one of my friends used to work for Gameloft, and he sent me this e-mail about his experience with the company back in 2007. Here’s his e-mail (verbatim).

I’ve spent many hours a day on pixeljoint.com (one website I still go often to), and pixelation forums (http://pixelation.wayofthepixel.net/), pretty much the only two huge forums where pixel game artists would communicate. Tons of jobs for big companies were arranged through these forums, including best selling GBA and DS titles. Smaller companies would use them for job placement as well.

Then of course there was the one company that stood out. Gameloft.
Their approach to EVERYTHING is quantity over quality. You’d be surprised at that, knowing that their games are actually decent, but man this is so true.
They basically open as many offices in as many countries they can. Later I learned that was actually due to a super high rate at which their people quit. Many didn’t last a few months.
I am pretty sure programmers / etc were treated in a similar manner, but here are some accounts from artists:

- “Expect ubiquitous management issues: remote decisions, language barrier, infrequent/brusque/sometimes misleading feedback, high turnover, low starting salary. Artists work under the game designers, who are often new to the industry (English majors, etc.). Projects often require indexed photographs and concept art. Limited/no creative freedom. The benefits are satisfactory (health and dental) and New York City has its own appeal.”
This is the KINDEST review of them I’ve heard, and it’s a public one too so it’s toned down.
http://www.wayofthepixel.net/pixelation/index.php?topic=5144.0

That same person later told that his decision to quit came shortly after he did a pile of revisions on character portraiots, got a NO on all of them and in the end was told: “whatever, get some people offof google images and resize them”. Seriously.

- Their art direction is HORRIBLE, all of their offices around the world reporting to ONE art director in the french office, thousands of revisions and ZERO feedback other than like itdon’t like it.

- Insane work hours, that are especially frustrating because people who worked there knew that the result of not hitting deadlines was that very management “approach” that led to thousands of revisions on each detail and basically squeezing the life out of every employee.
Basically they’re micromanage control freaks, but when a control freak is bad at management, bad things are bound to happen.

I personally declined their offers twice. Once I was really pursued by their Indian office (lol…), the other time was actually their Ukranian office.
Instead of opening their office in my city, Kyiv (the capital of ukraine and the business capital here as well) they opened it in Kharkiv, a city well away from here (cheaper rents was the reason… pretty weird that a successful company would be so cheap). One thing that surprised me is at how actively their HR tried to convince me to move to Kharkiv after I said I’m only interested in local jobs. It was pretty much obnoxious, gave me another impression that I’d rather stay away.

Of course, this is just one e-mail from one former employee. I truly hope this isn’t representative of the whole company.

 

Danny Pena

About Danny Pena

Founder & Co-host - Since 2001, Danny Peña’ has been at the forefront of Internet video game community building. Known for his unmistakable voice and interview skills. For press inquiries or additional information: email me. Bio: about.me/dannypena | Twitter: Godfree | Follow me on: Xbox Live: Gamertag - GODFREE | Nintendo Network - Godfree | PSN: GodfreeGTR