WORKING AT GAME DEVELOPMENT STUDIOS

Many game studios are relatively brutal places to work. Starbreeze has received the most coverage here but many other studios have also got a lot of problems to face. Payday 2 has fallen into DLC and microtransaction hell.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 came out last October and Activision brought in over $500 million in the first three days. Activision is a listed public company and so far they have been able to survive. Treyarch is the development group for Call of Duty.

Black Ops 4 was changed after two years of development to add a new battle royale mode to the game. Activision realized it needed a game to try to cash on on the growth of the genre.

Valve added a battle royale mode to Counter Strike: Global Offensive as the whole industry made a move to cash in. Black Ops 4 was overhauled to have a single player campaign and the battle royale multiplayer.

The Division 2 has also seen a lot of changes subsequent to its release as the development team works not only to fix bugs. An update today was 8.2GB worth of new fixes etc.

Developers are usually better paid but many are simply contract positions. The same is done for QA testers who are hired on contract to help the developers clean up the code. Generally management are the only ones who get a bonus when a game is successful.

Overtime for a $13 per hour tester does bring time-and-a-half when they worked past eight hours, and double time when they worked past twelve hours. Some projects may have two or three shifts so that operations are 24 hours a day. Most testers are treated badly by management and few if any perks are provided.

Developers get a bigger paycheck and they also get overtime. Developers are testers alike have worked a lot of hours while management struggles to see what is selling the most. For this reason management has to be focused on financial results as well as game sales etc.

Game development is a risky business as anyone who has got into the business can testify. The current hoopla over the battle royale genre may change overnight when something else captures the gaming communities interest. Given the time it takes to develop a game, brutal changes can be hard for staff to comprehend.

Starbreeze has laid off a lot of staff to focus on Payday 3. They have sold off everything else. They still have a core developer group but very few QA testers are present. Starbreeze is pegging their hope on Payday 3 Without those experienced QA testers feedback they may end up with a disaster. Starbreeze does not have a penciled in estimate for release yet.

Many studios reduce operating costs wherever they can and in the summer air conditioning may not be available. This puts a whole new meaning to sweatshops in tech. Nike and Adidas sportswear are the best bet in hot offices. Air conditioning however can improve productivity.

Looking at a development workgroup, making the office more comfortable leads to better morale and better productivity. To eliminate overtime, using rotating 4 shifts to operate 24/7 is one solution for achieving maximum production.