Team17 Digital CEO Michael Pattison has promised change following a report into working conditions at the studio last week. He says an "extensive report" will be compiled regarding staff complaints and also describes NFTs as "totally outside" Team17's values.
What is Team17 doing about last week's report?
Last week, a damning report emerged regarding working conditions at British publisher Team17. Staff complained of low pay, lengthy working hours, and sexual harassment, with management largely indifferent to any complaints put to HR. Now, Eurogamer has details of a meeting held by Team17 Digital CEO Michael Pattison in which he acknowledges that "action has to be taken". Pattison says he's launching an immediate review into QA staff pay (a particular sticking point in the report) and that the company would refocus its efforts on a lower number of games with a higher bar for quality in order to get Team17 off a perceived "continual treadmill" of releasing games.
Pattison also once again acknowledged Team17's hasty backtrack on its "environmentally friendly" Worms NFTs, describing NFTs in general as "totally outside" the company's principles and values. It's possible to read this as a veiled swipe at group CEO Debbie Bestwick, who many seem to think of as one of the biggest problems at the company. However, Pattison doesn't make any direct reference to Bestwick or her decision-making process when opting to get into the NFT space.
Addressing the issue of sexual harassment at Team17 (a problem brought up by several staff members who suggested they were being "gaslit" when complaining to HR about it), Pattison reiterated Team17's "zero tolerance" sexual harassment policy. He said he wanted to work on relations between other departments and HR, as well as generally improving the relationship between departments across the company. Pattison described it as a "sweet spot" between pleasing shareholders and pleasing employees in the meeting. According to Eurogamer, staff say they are "cautiously optimistic" about Pattison's promises, although they also understand that actions speak louder than words.
The gaming industry's problem with working conditions
Unfortunately, the gaming industry's problem regarding employee working conditions and toxic workplace environments is becoming apparent in more and more places. The ongoing Activision Blizzard lawsuits and employee complaints show that this problem is endemic in at least some of the industry's biggest studios, as do Ubisoft's ongoing woes. Meanwhile, controversies at Fullbright and Lab Zero Games show that the indie sphere is far from immune to similar allegations.
It remains to be seen whether Pattison and Team17 will make good on their promises. In the meeting relayed to Eurogamer, Pattison said he was confident the studio would "pull things around" and that there was still a lot to be proud of regarding working for Team17. Given that many of the studio's problems either appear to stem from or to heavily involve Debbie Bestwick, improving things without addressing the issues she seems to be causing might be difficult, but we'll have to wait and see what happens. Of course, we'll bring you more on this as soon as we get it.