Bodycount Developer Details "Unlawful" Working Conditions, Codemasters Responds

Illustration for article titled Bodycount Developer Details "Unlawful" Working Conditions, Codemasters Responds

Semi Essessi, who was unfortunate enough to have worked on Codemasters' abysmal first person shooter Bodycount, says that wasn't the worst part of his job.


Essessi spilled the beans to Eurogamer earlier this week, detailing what he claims were "unlawful" working conditions.

He says that he was not compensated for over 400 hours of overtime he worked leading up to the game's launch and that many of the things he was tasked to do exceeded his job description by leaps and bounds. He goes on to say that Codies promised him time off as compensation for his overtime, but the only time he got off was when he was let go as Codemasters' Guildford studio shut down last year. Worse yet? When he took his complaints up with HR they said he wasn't entitled to any overtime pay at all. Bollocks!

However, things suddenly seemed a little better. Essessi and his co-workers received an extra month of pay on their final paychecks, maybe Codies was trying to make good after all?

Not so fast.

Essessi says Codemasters soon asked for the money back and claimed that it was an accounting error. They wanted him to pay it back almost immediately. The problem was he'd already spent the money trying to wipe out a large chunk of the debt he'd accrued from moving to Guildford to work at Codemasters! Double bollocks!

I needed legal advice and they were asking me to repay the money faster than I feasibly could get any. In fact they were asking me to pay by bank transfer as well, meaning I would have to make a payment immediately to have any chance of meeting their ridiculous deadline

Essessi obviously had trouble meeting Codies' deadlines and they soon threatened to petition for his bankruptcy.

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. 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 without any checks or balances to safeguard the investment, and yet we were blamed for this!


Triple bollocks.

Essessi concluded his story proclaiming, "I am sick and tired of big businesses being incompetent and getting away with it because of fear and naivete. I don't like bullies, I never have, I never will."


Now that the story has gone public, Codemasters has responded to Eurogamer and Essessi saying:

The company has been, and continues to be, in open 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 advisers 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.


That sure isn't saying a whole lot, guys.

Laid-off programmer details "unlawful" last days at Bodycount studio [Eurogamer]

Reinventing the Wheel [Semi Essessi's Blog]

It's always unfortunate to hear about developers shutting down, and even more so when they're being treated poorly. However, this story ain't over yet, so in the meantime have a seat next to MJ and grab some popcorn:


You know what? That's all because people tolerate shitty games. They buy them and companies just don't really try to make any good games. Just by their luck, if a rushed game ends up kinda good and sells acceptable amounts, they have no reason to stop doing that. Good games require a lot of time and they don't want to do that.

So I blame all the people who buy mediocre and below quality games. Since video games are unacceptably expensive compared to all other things you can buy (movies, music, books), it's just a money machine. This needs to stop. Don't buy mediocre games let alone bad ones unless they are priced accordingly (~5/10 $ at most). Good games worth some 30$ but not more. Until then people'll continue to buy overpriced shitty games and companies won't even try to create a good game as long as it sells.

I wish all companies followed Valve's example but that won't happen unless people do something about it.