The serious business of making games

I was going to ask you… why did Paradox pick Barcelona for the new studio?

As far as I am aware, its because thats where the talent wanted to be. Johan and Fred and a bunch of other folks have moved there from Stockholm. Also as a growing global company under Ebba’s leadership I think Paradox is enjoying the process of starting new studios wherever they see a real opportunity to create games that can resonate with the new broader audience.

Its similar to Berkeley/Bay Area with us. This is just where we are already and where we like to be, we have access to (arguably) one of the best talent pools in the world so Paradox was delighted to start a studio here, less delighted by the local cost of living, but thats true for all of us :) Likewise Barcelona is within the EU in a great location so talent will hopefully be attracted to that.

Hope that helps!

Thanks, Rod. I was just unsure how a Sweden-based company would choose Barcelona for a new office, but what you’ve explained makes sense. Barcelona is a great city (or was when I visited in 1992)!

Fantastic news. Cheers to the leadership at Paradox. Are there any clear avenues to making this applicable to the whole company, @Rod_Humble? Maybe that’s more a matter of workers getting organized in other countries?

I dont know yet is the short answer and we are a public company so not sure what might be material so I wont speculate :(

I can tell you Paradox HQ holds all studios to the highest ethical standards around employee rights , customer rights and working conditions but gives fairly wide autonomy at the national level and leeway for local cultural attitudes and business practices to hit that standard. So what works for the studios in Sweden may or may not work for the studios in another country.

I know I will be watching how it goes in Sweden with I am sure interested developers outside of Paradox, so we shall see.

Yes, it is worth pointing out that in Sweden, 85% of the employees in the private sector are covered by these types of collective agreements. It’s definitely the norm here, and even more so for large, publicly-traded companies.

AT&T is discussing a sale of its Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment gaming division in a deal that could fetch about $4 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

Take-Two Interactive Software, Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard have all expressed interest in buying the gaming division, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. No deal is assured or imminent, two of the people said.

Many of the video game titles within Warner Bros. Interactive are tied to Warner-owned intellectual property, including “Harry Potter,” “Game of Thrones” and “The Lego Movie.” The unit also owns the “Mortal Kombat” and the “Scribblenauts” series. A deal might involve a commercial licensing agreement where AT&T can continue to get revenue from its IP, the people said.

That reminds me, WB gaming owns Rocksteady Studios I think. I wonder what they’ve been working on for the last 5 years? Arkham Knight came out in 2015.

I think that Warner unit has created two of my favorite games this generation: Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War.

I hope ActivisionBlizzard doesn’t end up with this series since they’ll inevitably shit all over it.

Like 90% of Warner’s games are licensed properties rather than original IP. They want to continue being paid for those licenses after selling the company, but to also get 4 billion dollars (like half of Ubisoft’s market cap) for this hollow shell. It’s kind of hard for me to understand what the commercial logic would be here for the buyers.

Oculus/Facebook buys Ready at Dawn, the Order 1886 studio.

Having shipped titles to multiple platforms in the past, Ready At Dawn is a veteran game developer with some serious chops—as well as a VR pioneer. They’ve created four titles for the Oculus Platform, including Lone Echo , Echo Arena , Echo Combat , and Lone Echo II , which is currently in development. In addition to setting the bar for narrative VR experiences, Lone Echo re-wrote the playbook for VR movement mechanics with the debut of Ready At Dawn’s signature innovative continuous locomotion system and full-body IK (inverse kinematics). The zero-g mechanic is used throughout the Echo Games franchise and lends itself well to VR beginners and competitive VR esports alike.

Hey what do you know, they’ve been working a Suicide Squad game for the last 5 years.

https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2020-06-22-yes-batman-arkham-developer-rocksteady-is-making-a-suicide-squad-game

“Suicide Squad kills the Justice League”?

I’m trying to remember the movie. Let’s see, there was Harley Quinn, and Will Smith’s character was Headshot, I think. I can’t really remember the others. Jai Courtney was a character, but I don’t remember what. Oh well, I’m sure Rocksteady will do a much better job of introducing them than the mediocre movie did.

I wish I could forget that movie Joker so easily.

Glad it isn’t another Batman Arkham, this could be interesting. Should be fun to fight against the heroes.

What a shit show Blizzard is these days.

There is a lot of back and forth in the Boycott Blizzard thread right now on it.

I remember in the very first Forza game for the original Xbox, when I got the ability to make my own car paint jobs, one of the first things I did was to make an American Flag themed car, since it’s easy to make that and have the car look good, even with my non-existent artistic talent.

This news reminded me of that moment.

https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2020-06-27-turn-10-bans-the-confederate-flag-in-forza

image

I have to wonder how on earth they would detect something like that though. I guess image recognition has gotten pretty good these days.

Damn, as dumb as the confederate flag is, General Lee is the best car this side of KITT.

Might as well belong in the Avellone thread, but since it’s not about him…

One current employee, who confirmed their identity to Gamasutra but asked to remain anonymous, said the issue runs even “deeper and wider” than what’s currently being reported, and said the “clear pattern of problematic behavior” that exists within Ubisoft became apparent within a few months of them joining the company.

Painting a damning picture of the Ubisoft hierarchy, they told us how the company is run like a “mafia,” with promotions often being handed out to those willing to “take a bullet for the family,” while those who don’t play ball are punished by way of lower salaries and slower career advancement. Those ‘family members’ accused of abuse and misconduct will often be shuffled around internally, with Ubisoft content to hide the issue in plain sight, letting abusers act with impunity, and putting more employees at risk.

They detail a chronically inept setup that has ushered in an era of systemic misconduct by instilling those in power with a sense of immunity. It’s a claim corroborated by the multitude of reports shared on social media last week involving those in high-level positions such as Ubisoft editorial vice president Maxime Beland, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla director Ashraf Ismail, product and brand marketing manager Andrien Gbinigie, and associate public relations director Stone Chin, all of whom are facing allegations of predatory behavior and abuse.

“Reports of abuse would be silenced instantly,” they explain, outlining how the HR department enables misconduct through inaction. They also claim that, in those instances where people in power are removed, Ubisoft isn’t looking to drive meaningful change, but rather protect its brand image and create a “false culture of growth and transparency.”

“People complain in small groups, but the previously mentioned faux transparency just kills any chance of actual change. It is such a well-functioning system of control, because there is a lot of conversation happening in the company. It just leads nowhere. An audit in Ubisoft leads nowhere 9 times out of 10,” they said.

“Problematic events often spark widespread passionate conversation on the internal social system ‘MANA’ as well as locally in many studios, where concerned staff air their very legitimate complaints. Yet as we can see today, change has not happened and is not happening.”

Allegations against a former member of the Ubisoft Massive HR team, who reportedly propositioned a male employee at a work party in exchange for a promotion. Multiple accusations against Gregg Baker, a former community developer at Ubisoft, who was reported as far back as February 2009 for sexually harassing women. Those concerns were passed on to management at the time. Nothing was done. Other damning claims that detail how Ubisoft North Carolina would attempt to sweep sexual harassment allegations under the rug by handing out gift cards to those who complained or witnessed instances of abuse.

“Not only was I given a gift card instead of them helping me, but they gave my entire team one because they were witnesses to it,” wrote one former worker on social media. “But tell me Ubisoft – why did HR give me more money than the others? For silence? Or because I was the actual victim?”

Hopefully they were gift cards for some place better than the company store.

Kongregate is in trouble.

https://www.kongregate.com/forums/1-kongregate/topics/1916387-important-kongregate-announcement

As most of you know, Kongregate.com was first created in 2006. The gaming industry has changed a lot since then!

During the intervening years, Kongregate as a company has grown and adjusted with those industry-wide changes. Today our business is largely focused on developing games and flash, as you are aware, is slowly going away. That means that Kongregate.com will need to evolve as well.

We will be rolling out several changes to the website over the coming days and months, the first of which is that we will no longer be accepting new titles on Kongregate.com as of today. We also will not be adding any more badges to games. You will still be able to play our existing library of over 128,000 amazing games and developers will be able to update their games as normal.

In addition, we will be disabling a number of Kongregate.com’s social features later this month and in the future. We know that this change will be frustrating to many of you, but we wanted to give you a chance to plan for it, so you don’t lose contact with the many friends you’ve made on Kongregate.com over the years.

Please be aware that as part of our focus on developing games, we will have fewer resources to support Kongregate.com. That said, our support team will do their best to help players experiencing in-game issues.