DON'T NOD decried by French games union over poor working conditions

"The STJV is concerned about the future of the studio"

08 February 2024
by quence 2
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DON’T NOD is the publisher behind the Life is Strange series, Gerda: A Flame in Winter, and Harmony: The Fall of Reverie. While many of their games have received critical acclaim, they aren’t immune to being accused of creating a poor work environment for their employees. Today, the STJV (Video Game Workers Union) in France has shared an official press release on their web site decrying several aspects of the company’s practices.

STJV indicate that they have received numerous testimonies from employees about mistreatment during their time with DON’T NOD. They report on mismanagement, frequent deadline changes, lack of long-term visions on projects, and an overall poor quality of life for workers. Negotiations with the union have also been ignored or not taken seriously.

STJV shared a summary of the complaints in the Twitter thread below:

The STJV says that they are concerned for “the future of the studio, its productions, working conditions”, and that they haven’t received any meaningful dialogue in return from the company. It remains to be seen if DON’T NOD will respond to these accusations in the near future, or what they plan on doing to improve their current perception.

Click here to read STJV’s full post for yourself, or see below for a snippet translated into English.

The Don’t Nod studio is known for its narrative games tackling topics of inclusion and diversity. Its official website goes even further and affirms “that at the heart of everything we do […] we take care of each other”, and that this “is the central theme of our values”. Unfortunately, as is often the case in the video game industry, these values, so often highlighted in corporate communication and in the press, are not put into practice.

On May 31, 2022, Don’t Nod took advantage of the announcement of its new visual identity to tease six potential new productions under development, including 4 internal and 2 external production lines. A little over a year later, on October 19, 2023, Don’t Nod goes further and announces during the presentation of its “H1 2023”, to mark “activity up 10.3%, a record balance sheet ( 60M€ cash net of debt), and a pipeline of 8 games in production”.

We are sounding the alert on the situation of Don’t Nod employees.

The STJV is concerned that the company is not capable of managing these multiple parallel productions:

  • deadlines change very frequently
  • the information and instructions given to the teams are contradictory
  • employees are moved from one team to another without having a long-term vision on projects
  • a grueling reorganization, which took more than a year to put in place, left entire teams in the lurch.

In a studio where productions follow one another in ambient chaos, the time and long-term vision necessary for quality of life disappear, leading to more stress among employees and provoking boreout/burnout situations, placing us all in anticipation of decisions taken by management. The STJV is concerned about the psycho-social risks that await studio workers, given the significant number of situations of unhappiness and work stoppages that have been reported to us.

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Comments (2)

hawk

5M ago

I don't think I've ever heard a game company brag as much as Don't Nod about their humanitarian views and accomplishments. It would be interesting if they're not particularly kind to the humans that work for them.

But the stuff they list up there sounds like regular "video game development" stuff. It's not good. Nobody likes bad communication and deadline changes. But it happens.

Edited 1 time

conangiga

5M ago

Sounds like my company alright. Or every other company really.