Claims have emerged via GameIndustry.biz that Rockstar Games will be cutting its ties with the Australian games studio, and will not be publishing Team Bondi’s next title. The recent controversy surrounding working conditions and what ex-employees, the ‘Bondi Eleven’ have said about oppressive management by studio boss Brendan McNamara has attracted negative views and opinions from the game industry and gamers alike.
Internal emails were revealed to GamesIndustry.biz of unsavoury work practices including overtime, pay freezes and demanding schedules. According to an ex-employee at Team Bondi, the relationship between Rockstar and Team Bondi has been souring for quite awhile.
“I’ve heard a lot about Rockstar’s disdain for Team Bondi, and it has been made quite clear that they will not publish Team Bondi’s next game,” said an ex member of staff at the Australian studio.
“Team Bondi are trying to find another publisher for their next title, but the relationship with Rockstar has been badly damaged – Brendan treats L.A. Noire like a success due to his vision but I think Rockstar are the ones who saved the project. They continued to sink money into LA Noire, and their marketing was fantastic. Without their continued support, Team Bondi would have gone under several years ago.”
A seven year production cycle and a delay that saw L.A. Noire get pushed from a 2009 to a May 2011 release has not bode well with Rockstar Games.
Despite the long production time, Rockstar was rewarded by placing faith in L.A. Noire with the game going on to sell millions and received positive reviews by critics. Part of the success though may be attributed to Rockstar Games contribution and marketing, steering the game in the right direction.
Rockstar on a lower level offered assistance with production, providing their own programmers, animators, artists, QA and more to assist in the project. According to the anonymous Team Bondi ex-employee, Rockstar became frustrated with the direction Team Bondi were taking which in turn caused friction between Rockstar and Team Bondi as Rockstar took more creative control.
“Rockstar also made a huge contribution to the development; their producers were increasingly influential over the last two years of the game’s development, and overruled many of the insane decisions made by Team Bondi management,” said the source.
“It’s also worth pointing out that Rockstar used to be very keen on making Team Bondi something like ‘Rockstar Sydney’ – the more they worked with Team Bondi management, the more they came to understand that this was a terrible idea.”
A scaving email was sent by Brendan McNamara in response to a redesign of the L.A. Noire logo where Team Bondi branding was left out, further highlighting the unease between Rockstar and Team Bondi management.
“Every dog has its day and there’s going to be hell to pay for this one,” wrote McNamara in an email intended for one designer but accidently sent to the entire team. “I’ll never forget being treated like an absolute **** by these people.”
Those hoping to see a sequel to L.A. Noire may be in for a wait as I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of this.