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Gameloft accused of illegally overworking staff

Monday, 18th July 2011 04:49 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Mobile developer Gameloft is reportedly guilty of more than churning out “derivative” iOS games. According to a former employee, it’s working staff to the breaking point.

“Some weeks I was work­ing 100 to 120 hours a week. Starting at 9:30 AM, going home at 2:30 AM, and then com­ing back into the office at 8:30 AM to start work again was not unusual,” Glenn Watson told games.on.net.

“It was after I worked four consecutive weeks of fourteen-hour days – including weekends – that I realised I needed to resign.”

Watson, an industry veteran, served as head studio programmer at Gameloft Auckland, and describes conditions very far from those allowed under New Zealand’s health and safety laws – which include a 12 hour limit on working days. Watson accused Gameloft of using “delaying tactics” when asked to consult with a mediator from the New Zealand department of labour.

A recruiting agency told games.on.net that Gameloft Auckland had a “very unusual” willingness to employ junior staff, and Watson said some starters had worked 24 hour shifts.

In its desire to meet deadlines, local Gameloft management reportedly gave employees deadlines weeks in advance of those demanded by superiors, resulting in huge amounts of unpaid overtime, during which staff were allegedly kept back after working hours and assigned to inappropriate roles – Watson gave an example of an artist forced to work on as a tester on a different project.

Although emails from Gameloft reportedly advise staff that “no one is held here against their will if they do not wish to work over their con­trac­tual hours”, employee contracts are said to stipulate that staff must work “reasonable hours” without pay. These working hours are apparently determined by management on a case-by-case basis.

Similar allegations have recently troubled Sydney-based L.A. Noire developer Team Bondi.

Gameloft, a mobile developer and publisher founded by the Guillemot of Ubisoft-owning fame, has around 4,000 employees in 20 countries, and pulls in €100 million in revenue each year. It has produced over 250 games since 1999, some based on Ubisoft properties such as Assassin’s Creed and Rayman. Other popular titles include N.O.V.A. and Order & Chaos.

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