Team Bondi and L.A. Noire
At the same time as the posting and coverage of the Rockstar Spouse story, another story broke regarding the working conditions of the Team Bondi studio in Sydney, Australia. Similar to the EA Spouse and Rockstar Spouse accounts, this story began with the use of social media. An anonymous individual, using the handle "Veracious Shit", posted a series of over 40 tweets about the making of the game L.A. Noire at Team Bondi. Team Bondi worked on this game in partnership with Rockstar Games after breaking off a partnership with Sony.
The tweets caught the attention of the game community and media in Australia and then spread around the world with coverage on various game media sites and an investigative journalism piece by freelancer Andrew McMillen.
The following section archives these stories.
This recap by journalist Andrew McMillen provides a timeline for how the story emerged: Why Did L.A. Noire Take Seven Years to Make?
- The 0riginal Twitter posts by veracious_shit chronicle Team Bondi CEO Brendan McNamara's experiences with Sony Leeds, Sony Entertainment and Rockstar Games as he worked to create L.A. Noire: Veracious Shit (veracious_shit) on Twitter
- The revised Credit Roll for L.A. Noire was released by some Team Bondi employees following dissatisfaction about the actual crediting of the game: L.A. Noire Credits - The complete credits for Team Bondi and Rockstar Games' L.A. Noire
A follow-up article by Andrew McMillen shares the additional information obtained from his anonymous sources: The Emails Behind The Whistle Blowing at Team Bondi
The story was covered by a range of game industry outlets and blogs. The following represents a selection of these:
- Tsumea: Jan 27, 2010: Anonymous Team Bondi Tweets Causing a Stir
- Kotaku: June 26, 2011: Inside the Seven-Year Labour Pains of L.A. Noire
- Develop: June 27, 2011: Team Bondi dev culture 'hostile and brutal'
- Develop: June 28, 2011: Team Bondi interrogated: The list of accusations
- iTWire: June 28, 2011: Troubling allegations swirl L.A. Noire
- This is My Joystick: July 15, 2011: The Team Bondi and Rockstar fallout « Neil Hughes
The CEO of Team Bondi, Brendan McNamara responded to the allegations in a story run by Develop where he essentially dismisses the concerns: This isn't a 9-to-5 job, says defiant McNamara
Known industry analyst Michael Pachter also weighed in with unsympathetic words for the employees of Team Bondi: Pachter Says Team Bondi "Wasn't Entitled to Overtime Pay"
After the story broke in the summer of 2011, the International Game Developer's Association was reported to be investigating the allegations. Despite the headlines of many of these stories, the IGDA was actually only quoted saying that they would need to first speak to Team Bondi, but if the allegations were true, they would be unacceptable practices. As for an investigation, it is unclear what action the IGDA may have taken behind the scenes. They were only quoted as giving out their email address and asking members of the Team Bondi community to come forward with concerns.
- VG 24/7: IGDA to investigate Team Bondi crunch policy
- Kotaku: IGDA Investigating Team Bondi Over ‘Unacceptable’ Work Practices
- GamesRadar: L.A. Noire's Team Bondi under investigation for "harmful" working conditions
- PSX Extreme: IGDA Investigating "Brutal" Team Bondi Working Conditions
- Tsumea: IGDA looking to investigate Team Bondi for brutal crunch, wants ex-developers to contact
- Game Politics: IGDA Promises Investigation into Team Bondi's Alleged Employee Abuses
- Develop: Industry outrage at 'brutal' Team Bondi crunch
L.A. Noire was released in the summer of 2011 just before McMillen published his 'tell-all' articles. Following the release, a number of important developments continued to take place for the studio.
First, Gamasutra News reported that Rockstar would never work with Team Bondi again due to the badly damaged relationship that resulted from the making of L.A. Noire. It was the opinion of some that Rockstar was attempting to distance themselves from the bad press that seemed most tied to McNamara himself: Report: Rockstar Will Not Work With Team Bondi Again
Soon after the release of L.A. Noire, the studio declared bankruptcy, despite the success of the game:
- igxpro.com: L.A Noire Developers Goes Bankrupt
- Rock, Paper, Shotgun: LA Noire Devs Team Bondi In Administration
Team Bondi - and all of its assets - were acquired by the Australian multi-media production company KMM (Kennedy, Miller, Mitchell) and reports in August, 2012 indicate that McNamara and his current development team have another title in the works.
In all the resulting good news for gamers and for studio execs, Tracey Lien of Kotaku Australia mused about what happens to developers when studios shut down. Otherwise, the hubbub about poor working conditions in the game industry seemed to fade away again: What Happens To Developers When A Studio Closes