Respawn Entertainment, developers of Apex Legends, has stood up against claims that suggest that the studio is crunching through COVID-19. An unnamed team member wrote an appraisal of the business on Glassdoor, and shared it on the Reddit Platform of Apex Legends, saying that Respawn and its parent Electronic Arts could not do so. However, other businesses have overturned timelines, and software improvement accounted for the decrease in profitability.
Glassdoor is a forum for consumers where current and former workers can share their background with businesses worldwide. A current full-time team member has posted the comment analysis (also highlighted by Reddit), suggesting that the studio failed to deal with the consequences of the COVID-19.
The unnamed team member lauded Respawn ‘s innovation and recent office changes during her review of the studio. They also complained, however, that Apex legends had strict schedules, bad preparation, and lack of treatment.
“Mostly every other game company has extended project deadlines […] to accommodate for lower efficiencies and general stresses or anxiety during COVID-19, but not on the Apex project,” reads the review. “I feel extremely stressed and burnt out trying to keep our seasonal releases on the same aggressive timeline as pre-shelter in place productivity. I currently work 12-13 hours a day, and there is no separation between my home and work life.
“We have no idea how to do a live service project, which means poor planning decisions and no sizing of work. [There has been] no attention to employee health during this period. We get two conflicting messages of ‘please take care of your health’ and ‘we must keep the same schedule and work even longer hours to meet our deadlines.'”
There’s no argument in saying most Respawn comments on Glassdoor are optimistic. Still, Apex Game Manager Chad Grenier admitted that he was dealing with the pandemic in reaction to these latest concerns.
When coping with the Reddit case, Grenier commented on Respawn, having only kept in mind the best interests and the safety of its staff, but that it was “indeed very hard on the team.”
“We certainly didn’t have the tools, tech, or systems in place to make a smooth transition to going from several hundred person teams on the same campus to a completely remote studio. During this transition, I knew that not only was work going to be more difficult and less productive, but people would also be dealing with a scary global pandemic,” he wrote.
“Add to that the pressures even in a normal environment of making a live service game, and we were set up for likely the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced and are still facing as we continue to work from our homes.”
Grenier said that he was vocal in speaking to the staff to “only work as much as they can,” and he repeated this message in cooperation with EA bosses. He clarified that developers were advised that delays would be OK if they could never finish their work without collapsing and speaking to their bosses or suppliers. To order to guarantee the well-being of workers, incentives, including guaranteed days off, have since been offered.
The creative director acknowledges that, after being advised that it is OK to break deadlines, the person who wrote the updated report said it is “absolutely right in how they felt, and they were working too much” He indicated that an attitude of “rockstar” sometimes drives people to hit their own back. That Respawn team members “learned to look for the signs” and to check-in with their employees more often.
He said that no one needs to lift their hand and state that they will not meet their deadline. Nobody wants the one who is delayed with a function. No one needs to wear down or turn down the fans. Everyone needs to fix the bug, finish the excellent new character or start-up, and run the new game, and gets crushed to do so unknowingly.
“That’s how dedicated this team is, they’re amazing. Because of this, all of us leaders on the team have learned to better look for the signs, check-in more regularly with the developers, and push features back proactively after reading the signals, instead of waiting for someone to raise their hand.
“Are we perfect? No, of course not. Do Respawn and EA 100 percent care more about the health of the team than the game and its profits? Even in non-pandemic times. As one of the original Respawners, I can honestly tell you that Respawn (and EA) has been a great place to be over the past ten years and is a place that puts the people first.”
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