LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga was released earlier this year, and for many, the final product lived up to all of their dreams and expectations. Players got to experience pure joy and bliss as they ran through all nine core installments of the franchise. Sadly, the same can’t be said for those who made the game possible.
Back in January, Polygon released an article that detailed allegations against TT Games and a work environment of crunch and mismanagement. Employees made it clear how they felt mistreated and “soft-black mail[ed]” by those in charge.
The claims certainly didn’t paint a pleasant picture of those in charge of the highly anticipated Star Wars game. While it seems some aspects of the studio have changed for the better months later, sources indicate that there still remain more problems for the developers.
More Problems Arise for TT Games
While speaking with Fanbyte, anonymous sources from within TT Games, the developer behind LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, detailed the changes made within the studio since the infamous Polygon article, alongside the problems that still remain.
The crunch and overtime culture seem to be taking a much-deserved hit, with management making an effort to crack down on any overtime worked by employees. However, it seems that’s about as far as the improvements go.
Reportedly, management has “treated the [Polygon] report… as a thing of the past,” with issues like "nepotism, poor communication between departments, and micro-management” still at large:
“Overall, they told me that management at the company treated the [Polygon] report and the problems outlined within as a thing of the past. This is despite various employees, including four new sources, voicing concerns about some of the later issues mentioned in the article, such as nepotism, poor communication between departments, and micro-management — problems that are still said to be having a negative impact on morale, staff retention, and TT Games’ next project.”
Sources also talked about how management had actually “brought forward” a big trailer, so that it would debut sooner “[as] an attempt to distract from the contents of the report:”
“A collection of four current and former employees who were there on the day, however, told me that the trailer itself was brought forward, with the original plan being to release the gameplay footage later that day at around 4 pm. The decision to move the trailer forward, they believe, was an attempt to distract from the contents of the report.”
At town hall meetings within the company, the “article was presented as an attempt to kybosh the LEGO Star Wars trailer” released at the time and the newly released trailer was “[brought] forward for damage limitation:”
“‘The article was presented as an attempt to kybosh the LEGO Star Wars trailer,’ says one former employee who was there on the day — a sentiment shared by three others. ‘Everyone knew it was bollocks. They brought it forward for damage limitation. There was no comment to staff about the allegations really. The town hall on the day was more about ‘There’s an article, don’t go talking to anyone.’”
TT Games has seemingly continued to struggle with its latest LEGO project thanks to “near-constant revisions and poor communication:”
“But 10 of the sources I spoke to say TT Games has struggled with this latest LEGO project due to near-constant revisions and poor communication between departments. This has led to frustration among some members of staff, with multiple employees claiming the management of both the Director of Game Development Eric Matthews and Head of Game Mark Green are contributing to these problems.”
As for after that new LEGO game, “TT Games’ R&D department… is said to be focusing solely on new LEGO ideas to pitch,” despite the status of its license for the iconic brand being up in the air:
“According to the employees I spoke to, it’s currently unknown what the studio will move on to after this next big project is done, and whether that will include LEGO. But the recent success of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has made some staff hopeful that TT’s future with the LEGO license is secure, at least for the time being. TT’s R&D department, meanwhile, is said to be focusing solely on new LEGO ideas to pitch — a decision that has disappointed some inside the company who are worried about the company’s future beyond the LEGO license. In the past, TT Games has made several attempts to come up with pitches for non-LEGO games, going as far back as 2016. This was in order to “future-proof” the company against the loss of exclusivity, but none of these ideas ever resulted in a finished product.”
Skywalker Saga Developer Aims for Better Days
It’s a shame that workplace issues like this still exist in the gaming industry, let alone anywhere else. With how big the industry is and how passionate many of the artists behind them clearly are, many are likely to picture a happy and vibrant work environment—something that’s clearly not always the case.
Hopefully, keeping the blinding spotlight on TT Games will force it into making the changes necessary to better the environment of the developers making people’s favorite games possible. It seems that it has already worked in part, given the decrease in overtime and crunch hours. The trick is to keep applying pressure, so the trend continues.
Fingers crossed that TT Games continues to genuinely improve, so those under its banner will be able to continue crafting beloved games. If it doesn't clean up its act, the company likely won’t have many more employees for much longer.
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is available to play wherever games are sold.