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.