For a long time, I had a buddy who worked in the game industry, first at Interplay (old school gamers know these guys well, especially Fallout fans) and then at GameSpy. He was usually my source for inside scuttlebutt on the industry, but unfortunately he died in 2007 shutting off that info wellspring.
Well, on Monday, I started talking to a guy I met on the bus when he finally mentioned that he worked for Obsidian - in fact, he is their main job recruiter (I don't know if he's cool with my revealing his name, so I won't yet).
After giving him an earful about the excessive game-breaking bugs and glitches in Fallout: New Vegas we started talking about other things in the industry that suck.
This morning, after telling him how much I adore RDR, he laid this on me:
Last July, R* San Diego laid off 40 developers of the team that created RDR despite the fact that the game had shifted nearly 2 million units. At the time this happened, R* San Diego Studio Manager Steve Martin (no, not that Steve Martin) said:
"As is typical with game development, our team sizes have always fluctuated over the course of the development cycle. As Rockstar San Diego transitions from the launch of Red Dead Redemption onto future projects, we are realigning our resources in order to continue to develop games as effectively as possible. We are ensuring that all employees who are affected by these changes are being treated with care."
What I found out today was the real reason they were let go. The layoffs occurred mere weeks before the royalty returns were to be divvied up among those most responsible for the game. So, instead of reaping the benefit of the grueling hours (by some accounts mandatory 6-day weeks and 12-hour days) put into making this astonishingly great game, the development team was fired thus absolving R* from having to turn over any of the royalty money to them.
Personally, this depresses me. It is very clear that a lot of care and love went into this game. I feel that these people should be compensated handsomely for the piece of art they helped create, most especially because R* continues to profit (somewhere around 9 million copies have been sold now) from the game itself and all of the DLC content.
I think denying those developers their due is seriously bad form on R*'s part.
And I'll bet if these developers were still working there, the bugs and glitches still existing in the game would have been fixed properly by now. Also, until R* put out another GTA, RDR is going to be their meat and potatoes because, let's face it, L.A. Noire just ain't as good as it could've been and no one will be playing it a year from now.