A former programmer at Codemasters' shuttered Guildford studio has published a scathing accusation of the company's work practices.
Semi Essessi, who now works at Escapist Games, alleges that Codemasters withheld pay and made employees work overtime with no compensation. He further alleges an administrative error that caused redundancy packages to be paid out incorrectly.
Essessi does state, however, that "When I signed up one thing that sold me was the promise of TOIL (time off in lieu) for overtime - the truth was that this was removed within days of my starting, and every minute of overtime I worked was unpaid." He also added that he never took the issue to the top brass "in a serious way" despite having issues with the lack of overtime benefits.
"After laying us off, after horribly mistreating us, after cocking up the redundancy procedure and best of all, just before Christmas, they are coming at us aggressively because they made yet another mistake," Essessi writes. "The best of it is that they owe us money, many of us have outstanding expense claims or were not reimbursed for overtime. Codemasters are famous for not paying their bills on time...
"Some employees did so much overtime that their hourly rate was less than minimum wage - and the company made no effort (despite its legal obligations) to prevent this from happening... I have a general feeling of anger that the redundancy is ultimately down to the people at the senior level having left a studio to burn through £20 million of expenses with out any checks and balances in place to safeguard the investment, and yet we were blamed for this."
Read the whole account on his personal website here
The Guildford studio was closed after the commercial failure of Stuart Black's first-person shooter, Bodycount
- a project that saw Black leave the company before it was even completed. Before then, it was SEGA's dedicated Racing Studio. The outfit was acquired by Codemasters in 2008.
SPOnG has contacted Codemasters for comment.UPDATE:
Codemasters has responded to SPOnG with the following statement. "The company has been, and continues to be, in dialogue with Semi regarding the reimbursement of funds paid into his account following an administrative error, as it is entitled to. As the conversation regarding his personal situation is ongoing, the company has not, as alleged, pursued it as a legal matter with him.
"The company’s advisors are now aware of the additional comments that Semi has published and these will be addressed with him directly through the appropriate channels as necessary."