Chad Grenier, Apex Legends game director, and other devs at Respawn, have defended working conditions at the studio, after a negative review of the EA-owned company garnered a lot of attention.
The ongoing global health crisis has caused unprecedented issues in a host of occupations, including video game design. A host of companies have delayed content releases and made adjustments to their game's scheduling in order to cope.
One Respawn employee, however, has hit out at their employers in an overwhelmingly negative review on Glassdoor. The employee's review is from April 2020, and criticizes Respawn for a number of things. While positive comments center on office improvements and knowing how to make an engaging game, there are far more negative observations.
The post details "burnout, stress and heavy anxiety" experienced at Respawn, while working on Apex Legends. The employee states that they are working 12 or 13 hours a day, and do not feel deadlines have been flexible enough to accommodate the difficult working conditions. It also states that there has been "no attention" paid to employee health.
The review was posted to the Apex Legends subreddit, where it quickly garnered attention.
A number of Respawn devs on Reddit joined the conversation, with many defending the company. Chad Grenier, game director at Respawn Entertainment, was one of these who spoke out.
In a lengthy response, he stated: "I truly believe Respawn has it's employee's best interest and health in mind, and always has... As the Apex team leader I was vocal every day telling people to only work as much as they can. This was reiterated by Studio leadership, and EA leadership as well."
"Regarding deadlines and delays, I was very vocal to the team about their deadlines," Grenier continued. "Like a broken record I continuously asked that people speak up to their managers or producers if they will not be able to get their work done on time without crunching. Delays would be ok, we just need to know one is needed."
On the topic of the anonymous staff member behind the review, Grenier clarified that he does not believe them to be "wrong", but that many of their staff do not want to let each other, or the game's fan base down.
He summarised: "Are we perfect? No, of course not. Does Respawn and EA 100% care more about the health of the team than the game and its profits? Absolutely, even in non-pandemic times. As one of the original Respawners I can honestly tell you that Respawn (and EA) has been a great place to be over the past 10 years and is a place that puts the people first."
Other developers at the studio also commented. "I can honestly say that I personally feel very supported by my teammates and my leaders," said Moy Parra, an animator on Apex Legends. "Respawn is not a perfect place but damn do they put the well-being of their developers as a really high priority."
It's fair to assume that the ongoing world health situation has created more issues for video game developers than it initially seemed, which may go some way to explain the difficult conditions some staff are experiencing.
Respawn and EA are yet to make an official statement as a company.