Many of us know what it is like to leave a job behind due to the uncomfortable mixture of overbearing, interfering bosses and/or inefficient and demeaning ways of working. However, most of us don’t have bosses that are (a) interesting enough to bother writing about after we’ve escaped or (b) in the public eye to the extent that Dan and Sam Houser and their team at Rockstar games are.
A disgruntled ex-Rockstar employee is certainly aware that tittle tattle about his ex-employers at the Grand Theft Auto
factory is of some interest to gamers, with Rockstar's former web producer Jeff Williams posting in embarrassing detail on his blog about his time at Rockstar.
“This is a company that seems to be in the news a lot lately, so there seems to be no shortage of interest,” writes Williams. No kidding!
Of course, the guys at Rockstar have come under increasingly closer scrutiny in recent years, following the massive successes of the GTA
series, as well as the highly-publicised scandals surrounding the Manhunt
games and the ‘Hot Coffee’ hidden sex scenes in GTA: San Andreas (pictured here).
You may also remember that SPOnG reported back in March of this year on ’Rockstar: The Rise and Fall of a Dynasty’
– a detailed look at the history of the company and its key players.
Williams seems to attempt to dismiss Rockstar as a one-trick-pony, suggesting that the company is overly reliant on the success of the GTA
series, conveniently managing to forget Rockstar's more recent successes with videogame classics such as Bully
, Table Tennis
and the ever-popular Midnight Club
With all that in mind, here’s a few choice excerpts from what Williams has to say about his time at Rockstar on his blog:
“Every Rockstar project turned into a huge clusterfuck. I mainly blame this on a horrendously inefficient company structure combined with a few individuals who thought they were hot shit but really didn't know anything about either video games or marketing. By that time, Rockstar was arrogant to the point of absurdity.”
Ouch! Can you feel this man’s pain? It continues:
“Every project involved at least four different approvals – ‘Scott’ [William’s boss], Jenny Gross, Dan Houser, and Terry Donovan. If any one of them requested a change, the project would be sent back. Often they didn't communicate and didn't agree with each other, so we'd do one change only to have someone else up the chain ask us to change it back. Then an argument would inevitably ensue. And when I say "argument", I mean "screaming at the top of your lungs and throwing objects around the office" type of argument.”
Commenting on Manhunt
, Williams says that he “didn't support Manhunt's release" and that "it may sound surprising, but there was almost a mutiny at the company over that game. It was Rockstar North's pet project - most of us at Rockstar Games wanted no part of it. We'd already weathered plenty of controversy over GTA3
and Vice City
- we were no strangers to it - but Manhunt
felt different…[it] just made us all feel icky. It was all about the violence, and it was realistic violence. We all knew there was no way we could explain away that game. There was no way to rationalize it. We were crossing a line.”
Referring to the well-publicised 'hot coffee' scandal, Williams goes on to state that he, along with a number of employees, knew about the sex scenes in question and that one of his colleagues, “just assumed the scenes would be removed before the game was released. Technically they were, but they were still accessible in the game for the technologically apt. One of Rockstar's recurring problems was underestimating the technical ability of its PC game customers. In short, I don't think "hot coffee" was intentional - or at least I don't believe those scenes were intended to be found. Rockstar just didn't think anyone would go to the trouble.”
Williams claims that he left the company for personal reasons and because he “became infuriated with the company's inefficiency and unwarranted arrogance. Not to mention their lack of taste in video games! Rockstar thought they were better than everybody else, but they weren't good enough for me.”
You can read William's full and frank account of his experiences at Rockstar over on his blog
SPOnG has spoken with Rockstar in the UK this morning who told us in no uncertain terms, "no comment."
Let us know what you think in the forum – Does Williams make any valid points? Or are these merely the bleatings of a disgruntled man?