Who Do You Trust in Games Industry Accusations?

Who do you trust when a game developer or publisher misled or victimized a worker? And what do you do when that victim sometimes turns out to be a liar?

By LCLupus, Posted 11 Nov 2022

The games industry has its history of exploiting the concept of a contractor, such as by hiring people by the hundreds and dragging them along for years with the promise of a permanent position that doesn’t need to be renewed on a three-, six- or twelve-month basis. These people often work full, salaried positions but do not receive the benefits of permanent employees. Companies do this because it’s easy to get rid of them when it’s no longer desirable to have them around, such as when quarterly financial reports come around and company needs to fire some people to artificially increase the appearance of their earnings.

You see, we live in a world where almost everyone has a boss. It’s the way it’s been for a very long time, and there are all sorts of issues with having a boss who is, in some way, a problem. In recent years, we’ve seen a reckoning in the games industry with regard to this as more workers come forward about their experience in abusive or harassment-filled workplaces, and the fight between contractors and employers is a major one.

This is a big issue, but it’s one that can be difficult to see for regular people. We are not privy to the contracts that these people sign, we do not get to see the machinations of the executives who make these decisions, and we do not know the real necessity or duplicitousness of corporate decisions.

Therefore, it may be best to examine some more high-profile cases to try and understand who is generally in the right and who is generally in the wrong. We’ll look at two such cases today, the ongoing, recent case of Hellena Taylor and Bayonetta 3, and the once seemingly dead but recently reopened case of Mick Gordon and the Doom Eternal OST.


Bayonetta 3, Doom Eternal, Feature, Latest
 

The Hellena Taylor debacle may be more recent in people’s minds as the gaming community received, only a few weeks ago at the time of writing, a tweet thread by Hellena Taylor, the original voice actor for the character of Bayonetta. In this thread, which consisted of several videos, she detailed the way in which she had been offered insultingly low pay to return and provide the voice of the titular character in Bayonetta 3. She also called for a boycott of the game and to donate the money you would have spent on it on a charity instead. The response was instant and heartfelt.

Many people resonated with the way in which she had been a part of something big and then didn’t get the money she deserved to reprise her role. However, a later report from Bloomberg disputed Taylor’s account, and instead stated that she had been offered significantly more than she’d discussed in her videos, but had turned down that amount to demand even higher pay. Platinum Games, the Bayonetta 3 developers, refused and instead started the search for someone else to play Bayonetta in the sequel.

This new account was immediately attacked by Taylor as a lie, but things have become increasingly murky. It hasn’t been helped by the fact that Taylor seemingly, albeit unintentionally, sent online hate mobs after the new Bayonetta voice actor, Jennifer Hale. So, we are now in a situation where it appears that Taylor lied to garner sympathy and support. And crying wolf tends to be a way to get people to turn against you. But before proceeding, let’s have a look at that other case.

Mick Gordon is an absolutely fantastic composer who has composed the scores for games like Doom (2016)Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and LawBreakers. And because of his great work on the Doom reboot, he was brought back to do Doom Eternal. So, everything should have been just fine, but it wasn’t. The game itself had a perfectly good score. It was great. The man’s a brilliant composer. But soundtracks are not only in games and are also sold as standalone soundtracks to either buy separately or as part of collector’s editions. This is where the problems come into play for Doom Eternal and Mick Gordon.

The OST received some pushback because it was not to the quality that fans expected. The audio files were compressed and badly mixed, and it was discovered that Gordon had only mixed a handful of the tracks. This led to speculation about what happened during development, and this led Marty Stratton, an executive at id Software, to write a Reddit post in which he criticized Gordon’s poor conduct. This was back in May 2020.

This story seemed dead and buried until a few days ago, in which Gordon released an extremely long statement on Medium, that is worth the read if you have the time, and it details the ways in which id Software planned everything poorly, failed to inform him of decisions, didn’t pay him for ages, and a whole range of other problems. The issue is back in action.


Bayonetta 3, Doom Eternal, Feature, Latest
 

Now that we have these two stories sitting here before us, let’s have a look at them together. On one hand, we have a contractor who may have lied to gain clout because they know that a corporation cannot easily respond to accusations like this because of how large and unwieldy corporate structures are. And on the other hand, we have the story of a corporation besmirching the name of a sole contractor to save itself from the decisions that it made to try and crunch its way through development.

Cases should always be seen as unique and individual because circumstances differ. What happened with Taylor and Platinum Games is different to what happened between Gordon and id Software. Furthermore, both cases are completely different to the mass layoffs large corporations periodically do or the crunch culture that various companies covertly endorse. However, while determining who is in the right and who is in the wrong, it is generally best to see both sides.

What about when both sides do not respond? Platinum Games has not made a definitive statement with regards to Taylor’s accusations other than some denials. They can’t just come out and say things. The dealings they do behind closed doors are kept confidential, and some bad PR may not be worth revealing those confidential matters to the public.

This is why investigative journalists like Jason Schreier, who published the Bloomsbury article on the Bayonetta 3 debacle, are useful, as they can reveal both sides when both sides cannot necessarily speak. But that isn’t very definite, is it? It also doesn’t help that, in the Doom Eternal OST case, Mick Gordon waited until November 2022 to properly respond to accusations back in May 2020. Both sides sometimes never become public, especially when the corporation decides to pay the dissenting voice to keep quiet.

Therefore, even though there are cases like Taylor and Platinum Games, in which the blame appears to be more on the contractor’s side, we should still listen to the voices of the contractors first. Listen to the potential victims first. They are the ones with considerably less power. This does not mean that people should then attack the accused, but it does mean that demands to hear both sides should be made.

You will not often find a corporation that actually apologizes for what they’ve done, but some level of accountability should be held. If it turns out that the accuser was lying, then they could also face accountability, but that isn’t how it usually goes. For every one Taylor, there are dozens of those who have been victimized by the more powerful, and if we start to believe that everyone who comes forward is a possible liar, then people won’t come forward at all.

We should want to live in a world in which those who have been hurt are able to seek help, and so we should rather believe the victims until they are proven to be liars, rather than believing the corporations because they make stuff you like. Consumerism shouldn’t be the reason people are too afraid to tell their stories.  

 

Justin van Huyssteen (@LC_Lupus)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Bayonetta 3

77/100

Platform(s): Switch
Publisher(s): Nintendo, Nintendo of America Inc.
Developer(s): PlatinumGames Inc.
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Hack And Slash, Fighting
Release Date: 2022-10-28

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