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Former THQ executive reveals extraordinary development hardships for Metro: Last Light studio

By Matt Gerardi • May 15, 2013

Jason Rubin, formerly of the Uncharted studio Naughty Dog, joined flailing game publisher THQ last May as the company’s new president. As you may know, he wasn’t exactly able to turn things around, and THQ is no more. One of its last almost-done titles was Metro: Last Light, which, after being sold off to the German company Koch Media, made its way to store shelves this week. Reviews have been generally positive (our review will be up tomorrow), but in an op-ed published on GamesIndustry International, Rubin calls attention to the less-than-ideal working conditions under which developer 4A Games put the title together. The studio, working out of an abysmal space in Ukraine, faced frequent power outages and struggled to procure the high-tech equipment needed to put together a game of this scope, Rubin says. It’s conventional wisdom by now that game development is a very tough business, but if what Rubin says is true, 4A endured some extraordinary hardships. (The bit about the chairs is especially sad.) If there’s one quote to take away from the whole thing, it’s definitely “4A is to developers what the Jamaican Bobsledding team is to Olympic sport.” Good one, dude.

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13 Responses to “Former THQ executive reveals extraordinary development hardships for Metro: Last Light studio”

  1. These new mini-updates are killing my productivity, you guys. Your site used to be just a breakfast thing for me! Now I can check multiple times a day and find new things. Real considerate.

    But, seriously, I love to see the site growing this way.

  2. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    Wow…that is equally depressing and inspiring.  They must have really loved their work to do it in such horrible conditions.  Here’s hoping they get recognition in the form of jobs in better companies in the future.

  3. Kyle O'Reilly says:

    How in the frack are we going to do anything about the deplorable working conditions of game studios?  It seems like even the successful, “look we’ve got snacks in the fridge” studios like Bungie and Blizzard still treat crunch-time as a necessary thing where people work ridiculous hours for ridiculous days.

    Seriously, how do we stop this?

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      The crunchtime isn’t even necessarily the problem.  The breaking of labor laws by refusing breaks or overtime pay and working seven days a week and then firing everyone as soon as the work is done – now THOSE are problems!

    • KidvanDanzig says:

      Getting out of the Ukraine and into Poland or somesuch equivalent would be a start

    • The_Misanthrope says:

       Really, at this point, I’m really amazed that the AAA games industry hasn’t toppled like a house of cards.  There are so many negative factors, any of which could hit a breaking point and bring the whole thing down:  the often horribly unfair working conditions (as well as the complicity to not talk about such conditions), unreasonable publisher benchmarks tied to Metacritic scores, the burgeoning-but-still-beholden-to-the-big-publisher games press, bloated budgets that often lead to thin profit-margins, studios failing on their own or bought up and gutted, etc. etc. 

      Maybe I’m just doom-saying, but it just feels like there’s bound to be some sort of crash–or at least a major paradigm shift–coming.  I’m just not sure what form it will take.  Will a major strike in the industry force conditions to change?  Will the press actively start holding the industry accountable for their misdeeds (there are attempts, but often they end up post-mortems, too late to change anything)?  Will publishers rethink the way they do business?  There are just so many ways this could go.


    I’ve never understood why this guy and Andy Gavin left Naughty Dog and it’s always bummed me out considering how big a fan I was of Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter 

    I mean, you can’t say it did anything good for their careers, nobody probably even remembers who Andy Gavin is 

  5. Citric says:

    I never really had much interest in Metro Last Light before, but now I kind of want to buy it, just because holy crap.

    • SamPlays says:

      I watched the video review on another site it seems like a pretty decent title regardless of circumstances. I wasn’t expecting it to be a stealth game and the visuals look nice. Apparently poor AI is a major flaw but that applies to humans on a non-artificial level, too, so is it REALLY a flaw or just a mirror of society? I might pick it up when it’s in the bargain bin for $10.

  6. SamPlays says:

    Like most things in the media, I’m sure this is slightly exaggerated. 4A was able to afford the highest quality wedding chairs available in the Ukraine and power outages are, like, totally common in Eastern Europe. Bobsledding? Is big joke in Ukraine.

  7. KidvanDanzig says:

    Are they also like the Jamaican Bobsled team in that they were a huge disappointment directly after they overcame hardships?