It Was Crunch Time At Mortal Kombat Studio

NetherRealm developers finally spoke out after hearing the news about the brutal crunch over Fortnite’s development.  Basically, there were allegations showing up on Twitter from a former employee.  Crunching was nothing new at NetherRealm Studios, as the employees were experiencing it as early as Mortal Kombat 9, all the way through Injustice fighting games.  He also mentioned that they would crunch months at a time and receive poor pay.

On Mortal Kombat 9 crunch officially began after New Year’s day 2011.  Of course, we did a bit of pre-crunch before that, just to make sure we were in a good spot for crunch.  This was on schedule documents. this was not a wink-wink-nudge-nudge ‘passionate hardworking’ thing, this was mandate, James Longstreet, a software engineer at NetherRealm.

I took one day off between Jan 1 [2011] and the day the day 1 patch was approved. It was my birthday, and it was on a Sunday, so it was ok if i was just on call. I was allowed to go to a friends’ wedding (on call of course) on a Saturday night, after working an 8 hour shift first. Those were the only two days i didn’t work from at least 10 am to at least midnight. We were all doing this. I mean, except the bosses, of course, who would leave after dinner.

PC Gamer had a chance to talk to a former QA tester, Isaac Torres, who worked from 2012 to 2013.  His official work was on Injustice.  He stated that he crunched for about four months straight and was doing 90-100 hour work weeks, working 7 days a week.  Isaac stated that he was tired all the time.  He use to take the bus, but he knew someone who would fall asleep on the couch in the office, so they wouldn’t fall asleep behind the wheel of their car.  Isaac said that he would start a workday around 9 or 10 am and wouldn’t leave the building until 2-3 am.

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Beck Hallstedt, a contract concept artist on Injustice 2, stated on Twitter that NetherRealm Studios, “needs to be exposed for predatory and abusive behaviours in the same ways that Riot, Epic, and Telltale have.”  “This company relies heavily on temp workers that work for 9 months and off for 3 months and have no benefits, plus working near minimum wage.

Another QA analyst, who wanted to remain anonymous stated that she did make $12 hourly wage and how that fed into the crunching.

I managed to get by for a while, but it got to a point where I had to put my student loans on hold. If it weren’t for the money made during crunch, I’d likely have had to settle for a different job and industry, which was something I didn’t want to do because this is what I had just finished school for and had a passion for. I didn’t want to throw that all away even though I probably should have thought differently.

We brought up the harassment, the bathroom issue, the secret nicknames that the devs had for all the female employees, the lack of women who actually had full-time jobs, the singling-out that we experienced, etc. etc. It took a year for the EEOC to decide that apparently nothing bad had happened and on top of it all NRS insulted my coworker and me, telling us we were misremembering everything and taking personal jabs at our skills.

To, it seems that all these studios have problems one way or another.  For everyone to come forth on their problems, I am not sure if they are doing it to  hurt the company or just to let everyone know.  Do we really know what goes on behind the scenes? It seems to be not always the greatest.  I would love to know everyone’s thoughts on this situation.  Comment below!

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Scott Hurd
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My name is Scott Hurd and I reside from eastern Pennsylvania. I have my Master’s degree in Criminal Justice. I have a passion for video games and always wanted to do something that included video games.

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