Metro: Last Light Studio Exec Downplays Poor Working Conditions

Metro: Last Light Studio Exec Downplays Poor Working Conditions

Andrew Prokhorov

The creative director at 4A Games says things are a little rougher in Ukraine than most other places, but he doesn't want to make a big deal about it.

Jason Rubin, who took the wheel as president of THQ in May 2012 but couldn't stop its slide into oblivion, ruffled some feathers yesterday with an article describing some pretty deplorable working conditions at Kiev-based 4A Games, the team behind the Metro shooter franchise. It all sounded very Third World, according to Rubin's report, as the studio struggled to deal with unreliable electricity, card tables and folding chairs as office equipment, corrupt government officials and more.

Not everyone agreed with his assessment - Aubrey Norris, public relations warrior-princess at publisher Deep Silver, tweeted that Rubin "knows NOTHING" about the situation - but it certainly got a lot of coverage. It also finally earned a response from someone actually at 4A Games, specifically Creative Director Andrew Prokhorov, who had high praise for Rubin but also implied that his tale of woe might have been a little overstated.

"We've worked with THQ for 10 years (as we are the guys who made Stalker, too), and Jason is the only THQ President who visited us in Ukraine. And he did this on his second week in THQ," Prokhorov wrote in a comment on Rubin's GamesIndustry column. "Keep in mind that he only had few months to somehow fix the situation. Alas, that didn't work out."

"It is a fact that our work conditions are worse than those of other developers outside Ukraine. I don't think anyone can doubt that - yes, it's true that American and most of European developers operate in a country far more comfortable than Ukraine," he continued. "And yes, the publishers pay them more. This is clear: the more 'reasonable' the country the less the risks. And we don't want to be all dramatic about that - after all, better conditions are earned, and we strive to do this as soon as possible :)..."

Prokhorov thanked Rubin for the article but asked that publisher Deep Silver, which acquired the franchise in the wake of THQ's collapse, not be blamed for failing to put 4A's logo on the Metro website, because everything from the acquisition of the IP to the game's release happened so quickly. He also noted that in the end, 4A's working conditions aren't particularly relevant to anyone outside of 4A.

"The final consumer doesn't care about our conditions. And this is RIGHT," he wrote. "We need no indulgence."

I imagine that's an easier perspective to maintain when your game is enjoying widespread acclaim from critics and consumers alike, but even so, that's the kind of attitude that deserves some serious respect. Well done, Mr. Prokhorov - and here's hoping that you'll have some better furniture for the next one.

Source: GamesIndustry

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And what if we do care about conditions? There have been games I haven't bought after hearing there was a case of bullying on the dev team. So yeah, if a dev or publisher abuses their hardworking staff, I won't be buying their games, so I've all reason to know the working conditions.

We should care more about where the stuff we enjoy comes from. Especially from a dev that has to smuggle in office chairs but still makes good games. Though I am sure the Ukrainian secret police were in no way involved in this ambiguous post about the Ukrainian work conditions :)

All glory to Ukraine!

Pedro The Hutt:
And what if we do care about conditions? There have been games I haven't bought after hearing there was a case of bullying on the dev team. So yeah, if a dev or publisher abuses their hardworking staff, I won't be buying their games, so I've all reason to know the working conditions.

Thing is, I don't think the working conditions have to do with publisher mistreatment so much as them being based in the Ukraine based on the articles.

Now granted, maybe the publisher did have some stuff to do with it prior to Reuben's taking the reigns based on what he's said about it, but even then who the hell knows. When you're talking about a company having to smuggle dev kits into the country, bribe government officials to get chairs into Kiev, etc. are their biggest problems really their publisher?

I agree though, I care about their conditions and I hope they improve. They're a really talented developer and deserve not only a lot of success, but a lot of credit for accomplishing what they do in the conditions they have.

Look at that some people dont want to be pitied. Wierd concept, right?

Vivi22:

Pedro The Hutt:
And what if we do care about conditions? There have been games I haven't bought after hearing there was a case of bullying on the dev team. So yeah, if a dev or publisher abuses their hardworking staff, I won't be buying their games, so I've all reason to know the working conditions.

Thing is, I don't think the working conditions have to do with publisher mistreatment so much as them being based in the Ukraine based on the articles.

Now granted, maybe the publisher did have some stuff to do with it prior to Reuben's taking the reigns based on what he's said about it, but even then who the hell knows. When you're talking about a company having to smuggle dev kits into the country, bribe government officials to get chairs into Kiev, etc. are their biggest problems really their publisher?

I agree though, I care about their conditions and I hope they improve. They're a really talented developer and deserve not only a lot of success, but a lot of credit for accomplishing what they do in the conditions they have.

While true, Ukraine is also seeking to get EU membership, that does mean that average working conditions should be comparable to those of other EU member states. If things are this dire then they might have to wait several more years still, or make urgent work of getting up to EU standards.

It's sad that he's under the impression that consumers don't give a shit about the story behind the box. I mean, I'm sure it's true for the majority of buyers, but I wouldn't say that's a rule of thumb. Hearing Rubin's account, and how humble (or coerced) this dude is makes me more eager to buy Last Light earlier than I had planned. I had a similar situation with L.A. Noire, where I knew I would be giving money to people who tore families apart and made a damned coal mine out of a dev studio.

Some of us care, Mr. Prokhorov. Focus groups, market analysts, and the like may take a bit of the humanity out of the group that buys your game, but some of us do take notice and care. It feels weird to be considered the nebulous and uncaring "money source".

He's not actually saying that consumers don't care, he's saying that it's not their responsibility to care. I'm sure he knows full well that a lot of shooter fans have mad respect for what 4A does under less-than-ideal circumstances, but he doesn't expect to be given a pass just because things are tough in Eastern Europe. That's a hell of an attitude, especially in this day and age when a game can literally sell millions of copies and still be considered a failure because it didn't make any money.

Pedro The Hutt:

I agree though, I care about their conditions and I hope they improve. They're a really talented developer and deserve not only a lot of success, but a lot of credit for accomplishing what they do in the conditions they have.

While true, Ukraine is also seeking to get EU membership, that does mean that average working conditions should be comparable to those of other EU member states. If things are this dire then they might have to wait several more years still, or make urgent work of getting up to EU standards.[/quote]
Or just cheat, like Greece did.

Seriously though, with that kind of corruption going on they're never going to make it. And I know for a fact that it used to be pretty bad here... just not as bad as it seems to be in Ukraine. This is nearly worse than Egypt...

Andy Chalk:
It also finally earned a response from someone actually at 4A Games, specifically Creative Director Andrew Prokhorov, who had high praise for Rubin but also implied that his tale of woe might have been a little overstated.

Well he certainly found a creative way to make sure he keeps his job.

WashAran:
Look at that some people dont want to be pitied. Wierd concept, right?

The prouder people are, the less they have to be proud of.

Someone get this man a recliner and a hot tub, stat!

But seriously, you've got to admire their modesty and independence. I wish them the best.

It really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that sweatshop workers feel compelled to come out and defend their employers. Doing otherwise would be a quick way to get fired. Even anonymously it can bite you in the rear.

However, it's of course likely he does believe what he said. Though I think it's a bit misguided, and contrary to what Mr. Chalk said, I don't think I'd call it respectable to say consumers shouldn't care. Any decent human being should care about the conditions of their fellow people. Not just those who make things for them either.

If we don't have a moral responsibility to care about one another than what the hell moral responsibilities do we have?

jeez talk about being humble, although this is kind of a typical stereotype i imagine in places like that

Yea, well don't let this stop the rampant statist chauvinism in games journalism. Trying to further national stereotypes.

Last Light was one of the best games I've ever played, in my life. The only thing I hated about it was that it ended, and there isn't a Stalker-level open-world counterpart with the same attention to detail and fidelity. Whatever the working-conditions were really like... I can't thank them enough for making this game the way they did.

I read that article and I have to say... I am 1000% behind this guy. Him and his team get all the respect in the world from me. The truth is, they weren't beaten or made to work in inhuman conditions. Most of the complaints that Rubin had were from the the general condition of the country and locations of the office, not from horrible mistreatment from a publisher. They don't have the best office, but they have an office that allowed them to produce a fantastic game. No one on the team is coming forward and talking about how horrible the conditions were and how they were mistreated.

People need perspective, and that is what a lot of people lack around here. If you aren't from the Ukraine and have better working conditions, awesome. But you cannot judge their conditions by yours. Most of the team is probably happy to have a job that pays them steady and probably pretty good wages, based on their national standards of course. When people from another country start dictating what work conditions should or should not be in another country, and then people from that country say butt out (specifically the workers), you need to shut your pie hole and let them worry about them. That is reality. Reality is not they should have identical working conditions to a richer country that has a stable power grid and more disposable income.

Edit: I should mention that the goal of the country is always to raise the working conditions for it's people. I'm not arguing for no improvement. I simply saying the the snap shot offered by one man on one visit is just that, a snapshot. It's not indicative of the day to day working conditions, only the workers can be accountable for that.

And to think that some people complain about not having freshly brewed, expertly roasted, freerange organic, Ethiopian coffee in their office every morning...

Someone send these guys a bucket of KFC. No chips though, they need no indulgence.

humble and not knowign better is what i get from it. coming from a second world country myself, i know how we live and think "Thats just how live is supposed to be" and when somoen from 1st world comes and sees it they get appalled since according to them bums live like that. but for us thats just a normal reality. thats why so many who emigrate never look back, they taste the good stuff. lets take electricity. it is so stable in western world that people make clocks basedo n electrical input and they run better than regular ones (more precise). the current is so unstable here that such a clock goes forward or backwards for HALF AN HOUR each day. and electricity downtimes while less common here now still happens. Such unstable electricity is a snife to the throat for pretty much all electronic devices plugged in, though often most of it is absorbed by the power regulator (think: PSU unit in PC). electronic devices here usually have some sort of defence now when sold here and most people keep a device meant to stabilize that from the "big jumps" here since those can fry everything connected each time. yet still this is not as common practice as we would like and something that really should ahve been fixed from the suppliers end to begin with.
Tl; dr: my point being: if you are used to bad condition they dont look that bad.

Wow...mad props..

that's a hardcore stance

 

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