Respawn Entertainment has been accused of “aggressive” working practices that has left an anonymous employee “burnt out,” and the company has now responded to the claims (via GamesIndustry.biz).
“I feel extremely stressed and burnt out trying to keep our seasonal releases on the same aggressive timeline as pre-shelter,” read the review submitted by this employee on Glassdoor. “I currently work 12 to 13 hours a day and there is no separation between my home and work life.” This review was then published to the Apex Legends’ subreddit, where it gained attention from players and developers.
“We have no idea how to do a live service project, which means poor planning decisions and no sizing of work, means we actually have very little idea of how much we can accomplish in a given month,” continued the review. This employee also shared that the team feels conflicted when Respawn tells them to look after their health while requiring them to work long hours with no modification to pressing deadlines. “I am so burned out that I am considering leaving without a next job to go to just so mentally I can be in a better place,” concluded the review.
Chad Grenier, director of Respawn’s battle royale title Apex Legends, has now responded to the review. “We certainly didn't have the tools, tech, or systems in place to make a smooth transition to going from several hundred person team on the same campus to a completely remote studio,” he admitted in a reply to Reddit, and stated that these claims “fall on [him] as the leader of the Apex team.” He also added that Respawn and its parent company Electronic Arts have done their best to manage the impact of working remotely on their employees. Grenier said that there are benefits like unlimited paid time off for those suffering physically and mentally or those who are carers for someone in their household. Employees have had the opportunity to claim purchases made to make remote working easier and more efficient, and the companies have offered additional pay to compensate for increased energy and internet bills.
“Like a broken record I continuously asked that people speak up to their managers or producers if they will not be able to get their work done on time without crunching,” he continued. “I’m definitely not trying to say this person who wrote the review is wrong, and I’m not defending myself against the review. They’re absolutely right in how they felt, and they were clearly working too much, despite being told it was ok to miss their deadlines. The problem is not with the intent of Respawn’s leadership, we’ve got everyone’s best interest in mind.”
Grenier cited the dedication of the team to improving and ameliorating Apex Legends as a possible factor affecting this employee’s experience. “Everyone wants to fix that bug, finish that cool new character, or get that new gamemode up and running, and will crunch themselves unknowingly to get it done,” he explained. “That’s how dedicated this team is, they're amazing. Because of this, all of us leaders on the team have learned to better look for the signs, check-in more regularly with the developers, and push features back proactively after reading the signals, instead of waiting for someone to raise their hand.”
“Are we perfect? No, of course not,” he stated. “Does Respawn and EA 100% care more about the health of the team than the game and its profits? Absolutely, even in non-pandemic times. As one of the original Respawners I can honestly tell you that Respawn (and EA) has been a great place to be over the past 10 years and is a place that puts the people first.”