Team Bondi Employees Owed Over $1 Million

Team Bondi Employees Owed Over $1 Million

image

Over 75% of the defunct L.A. Noire studio's debt is owed in unpaid wages and bonuses.

Following months of allegations of employee mistreatment and bad management (from publisher Rockstar, no less), the size of L.A. Noire developer Team Bondi's debts forced the ailing studio into liquidation earlier this week. Now an analysis of the papers filed during its liquidation has revealed that most of the company's debt - over 75% - is owed not to corporate creditors, but rather to former employees.

According to Edge, papers filed to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission reveal that Team Bondi's total outstanding debt comes to AU$1,425,156.78 ($1,402,265.97), of which $1,074,283.28 is owed to former employees in unpaid wages and bonuses. The studio's former boss, Brendan McNamara, took the biggest single hit; he alone is owed $102,495.16. Three of his top colleagues, all of whom disputed claims of horrendous working conditions in the run-up to development milestones, are also owed between $99,155.21 and $19,120.17.

On the corporate side, Depth Analysis, a company which is owned by McNamara and was used to develop L.A. Noire's revolutionary facial animations, is owed a total of $145,795.83. Bogus Films, the casting agency run from the same address as Team Bondi, is owed $24,781.75. Team Bondi's accountants are owed a total of $54,427.01.

Although L.A. Noire sold reasonably well and shipped over 4 million copies worldwide, its development was seriously hampered by bad management and employee dissatisfaction. An investigation into Team Bondi's working practices undertaken by the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) will hopefully put to rest the arguments over working conditions - but in the meantime, former employees will be left wondering how long it'll take for their unpaid wages to be fulfilled by what's left of Team Bondi's assets.

Source: Edge

Permalink

That's a lot of money for a person, but for a company working with one of the richest publishers in the gaming world it doesn't seem like an amount they should have gone into administration for.

Well the second it's on PC and it runs well there going to get alot of sales. Me included.

FlashHero:
Well the second it's on PC and it runs well there going to get alot of sales. Me included.

shortly afterwords there will be people wondering "why did I buy this anyway?"

I have L.A. Noire on the 360.... yet the last time I played it was the week it came out. Its just that forgettable.

Also, cue to the people claiming it will get pirated when it comes to the PC in 3...2...1...

FlashHero:
Well the second it's on PC and it runs well there going to get alot of sales. Me included.

There were a lot of sales anyways. I'd say 4 million units sold, especially for a new IP that isn't a shooter, is really good. That's why it's so strange and sad that the dev team that made it is now out of work and many are owed so much. It sounds like it's due to Rockstar judging by the other issues with how they were treated during development, but I don't know that for sure.

Plus, haven't you learned by now that Rockstar has pretty much stopped caring about PC gamers entirely?

It's such a shame to hear that they are owed so much money. I do have hopes for the investigation looking into mistreatment of staff will at least not only assist with this one particular case, but also help other companies within the gaming industry.

Events are similar - I can't go too much into it. But yeah. It'd be nice to see some form of formal response on it.

Anyway... I am also surprised that they are in liquidation but maybe I'm not too well-versed on the Team Bondi subject to know, it just seems a small amount to go into liquidation.

Its a good lesson for everyone. Unless you get a check for your work you walk. Never compromise on that no matter how much the person who wants you to work for free begs.

Because if you give anyone opportunity to screw you they will, even if it isn't malicious but because you are a "low priority".

FlashHero:
Well the second it's on PC and it runs well there going to get alot of sales. Me included.

I'm sorry but "Alot" is not a word.

OT: I find it funny that Brendan McNamara is owed $102,495.16. That's a lot of money.
Oh well.

Alandoril:
That's a lot of money for a person, but for a company working with one of the richest publishers in the gaming world it doesn't seem like an amount they should have gone into administration for.

I know what you mean, I guess it means the publishers really didn't believe in these guys. They must have considered them a real hazard otherwise a million? That's nothing to soak up. You can get bet if Valve or even Media Molecule were ever a million in debt there'd be a lot of folks lining up to pay it off.

It's a shame too, because it seems like the people at the top really loved their game, cutting everything they were owed to get it finished. But maybe it was a 3D realms situation and the management just didn't have the skill to see things get done :( If nothing else the idea they had was fantastic

I think the game's greatest achievement was that it set the gold standard for facial animations. However, it's major flaw was that there was more to see and witness than there were things to do.

Yeah, the story was pretty good and I know that "games are art" and all that, but if I'm spending most of the time watching animations rather than actually doing something, I cannot call it a game. It's more of a movie then. Worse than a movie, in fact, because let's face it - video game writing and graphics at their best are nowhere near as close when it comes to quality.

Kapol:
There were a lot of sales anyways. I'd say 4 million units sold, especially for a new IP that isn't a shooter, is really good.

*Bolded emphasis is mine*

Technically, I don't think that's true. 4 mil were shipped, though it didn't specify how many copies were actually sold. As the previous article on the matter pointed out, there is an important difference between the two.

It's highly likely that they may have shipped far more copies than people were actually interested in buying, especially considering that it only reported selling 900K copies in the first month, it's been out less than five months, and not a lot of games these days have sustainable sales numbers. I'd feel confident in guessing that there's at least a million copies of the game still sitting in warehouses and stores somewhere or other, most of which won't be sold until they hit the $10 bargain bin.

Space Jawa:

Kapol:
There were a lot of sales anyways. I'd say 4 million units sold, especially for a new IP that isn't a shooter, is really good.

*Bolded emphasis is mine*

Technically, I don't think that's true. 4 mil were shipped, though it didn't specify how many copies were actually sold. As the previous article on the matter pointed out, there is an important difference between the two.

It's highly likely that they may have shipped far more copies than people were actually interested in buying, especially considering that it only reported selling 900K copies in the first month, it's been out less than five months, and not a lot of games these days have sustainable sales numbers. I'd feel confident in guessing that there's at least a million copies of the game still sitting in warehouses and stores somewhere or other, most of which won't be sold until they hit the $10 bargain bin.

True, I suppose I hadn't taken that into consideration. And, given the prolonged development time and likely the cost of using/working on the technology for the facial capture they used, it's likely the cost overtook the actual profit. Though selling 1/4 of the total shipped in the first month alone leads me to believe that they sold the majority of sold copies. Of course, majority in this case means 'over two million.'

Kapol:

FlashHero:
Well the second it's on PC and it runs well there going to get alot of sales. Me included.

There were a lot of sales anyways. I'd say 4 million units sold, especially for a new IP that isn't a shooter, is really good. That's why it's so strange and sad that the dev team that made it is now out of work and many are owed so much. It sounds like it's due to Rockstar judging by the other issues with how they were treated during development, but I don't know that for sure.

Plus, haven't you learned by now that Rockstar has pretty much stopped caring about PC gamers entirely?

I may have misread it somewhere. But I thought it was that Rockstar started pulling away when they received credible reports of how the Team Bondi management was treating its own employees. Rockstar didn't encourage the mistreatment. They found it deplorable? or am I remembering that wrong?

Rockstar just needs to nut up and bring out RED DEAD FARKING REDEMPTION for the PC and they will make a bunch of money. I played RDR on the PS3 and I would easily buy it for the PC. Not interested in LA Noir on the PC at all, rented it for the PS3 and it was boring. Why Rockstar will release a bunch of their other titles on the PC but not RDR is beyond me.

I'm happy that most of the money is owed to the people who had to work in crunchtime - at least the investors got most of their money...wait

But seriously, hopefully those employees will get some of the back wages after Team Bondi's assets are sold.

Shame. While L.A. Noire was flawed, it had potential, and could've been a great launching point for Team Bondi as a developer to follow. Instead, it fell due to greed and general asshole behavior. I just hope the employees can find work for new companies that will treat them right.

Wow. Team Bondi really seems like the reincarnation of Tiger Telematics, except on the software side. (They were the guys who made the Gizmondo. Quite a sordid story with those guys.)

Imagine having to work in shitty conditions (those allegations were denied, but if they owe over $1,000,000 just to their employees, I really doubt the working conditions were great) and then not getting all the money you worked hard for.

Damn, that really sucks.

Team Bondi made the mistake of selling the name and the rights to the L.A Noire "franchise" (if there was to be a franchise that is), to Rockstar. Every bit of intellectual property associated with L.A Noire now belongs to the publisher. Thus, Team Bondi have nothing to bargain with. They spent 7+ years making one game, moving from the PS2 to the PS3/360. They received a ton of bad press in relation to their management practices. Rockstar have made it clear that they never want to work with Team Bondi's management team ever again. And many employees have left dissatisfied. This spells INVESTOR DEATHTRAP to anyone who is even remotely aware of what investors like. No sane investor would ever put money into Team Bondi after L.A Noire was released. I mean think about it:

1) A horrible management team
2) They took 7~8 years to make ONE game. No matter how good that game is, 7~8 years is far too long
3) A lot of talented employees left the company
4) Rockstar have the intellectual property rights to any possible L.A Noire sequel. So the one good thing Team Bondi made, is out of their hands. They couldn't make a sequel even if they tried
5) They still had a debt left over from the development process of L.A Noire.
6) Other studios have put out better selling games, with less hassle, in shorter time frames

When you put it like that, who on EARTH would finance Team Bondi's next project? You'd have to be a gibbering fool of an investor.

Which is sad, because despite all the negatives, Team Bondi made a genuinely good game. A lot of people, myself included, enjoyed the story of L.A Noire and had fun playing it. The motion-scan face technology is AMAZING and I sincerely hope that Rockstar continue to use it in their games. Brian McNamara might have been an ogre of a boss, but he had a good eye for detail, he wrote a compelling story and he was a perfectionist (you can take that as a positive or a negative depending on your mindset). And it is always sad to see a struggling developer, especially an Australian one, close even after achieving the dream of shipping a well-received game. So many Australian developers have shut their doors, and that's sad to see, because now Australian game developers/programmers/artists have no choice but to go overseas if they want to find employment.

Despite railing on Team Bondi for the majority of this post, I did not want to see them close. I wanted a change in management, but I am sad to see them go. A lot of people have not only lost their jobs, but now they are stuck with a CV which states that they've only worked on one game their entire career, which means they'll have a tough time finding future employment, even if the one game they worked on turned out good.

Korolev:

Which is sad, because despite all the negatives, Team Bondi made a genuinely good game. A lot of people, myself included, enjoyed the story of L.A Noire and had fun playing it. The motion-scan face technology is AMAZING and I sincerely hope that Rockstar continue to use it in their games. Brian McNamara might have been an ogre of a boss, but he had a good eye for detail, he wrote a compelling story and he was a perfectionist (you can take that as a positive or a negative depending on your mindset). And it is always sad to see a struggling developer, especially an Australian one, close even after achieving the dream of shipping a well-received game. So many Australian developers have shut their doors, and that's sad to see, because now Australian game developers/programmers/artists have no choice but to go overseas if they want to find employment.

Despite railing on Team Bondi for the majority of this post, I did not want to see them close. I wanted a change in management, but I am sad to see them go. A lot of people have not only lost their jobs, but now they are stuck with a CV which states that they've only worked on one game their entire career, which means they'll have a tough time finding future employment, even if the one game they worked on turned out good.

unfortunately that ain't to be mate. I think it's quite a sad day to see another Australian Developer shut down. and that's australia's problem the government spends too much time putting efforts into supporting more taxes when they should be supporting local industry.
But it does give me an idea, there should be an Australian Game publishing label, and Aussie devs could all be under the label. but alas it won't happen. because there are no development studios left that i know of except Halfbrick.

sravankb:
Worse than a movie, in fact, because let's face it - video game writing and graphics at their best are nowhere near as close when it comes to quality.

Um, I disagree. Look at any game Bioware has put out; they all have amazing writing. I mean, some parts of Mass Effect 1 were a little cheesy, but still, nearly all of their dialogue is superb, on level with or even better than a lot of movies. And I'm not sure what you mean by "graphics," as in, it's not live action like movies are?

LA Noire was most definitely a game. Yes there was a heavy emphasis on the story and the case solving, but that was all interactive. Much of the game was cutscene, with no control over the main character, but there were enough shoot outs and action sequences in between, along with the crime scenes and interrogation, to make it playable.

The game was far from perfect, but I thought it was a very unique experience, with one hell of a noir atmosphere.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here