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The Mysterious Downfall of Team Bondi

LAphelps

Remember Team Bondi, the developers of surprise hit L.A. Noire earlier this year?

Well ever since the game hit the shelves, there have been dark rumours floating around about the supposedly slave-like working conditions over the seven year course of the game. I mean, I’m not the kind of guy to kiss and tell (or game and tell, or whatever) but there were just so many people talking about how “horrible” it was working on L.A. Noire that I couldn’t help but add precedence to some of the rumours.

Especially considering that Team Bondi is officially closing down. But more on that later.

Here let’s take a look at some of things I heard:

  • Work weeks were generally around 60 hours long, or more: this one is probably true. The majority of people know how a 40 hour work week can stretch when you have a major project due. Now imagine the “major project” is “due” every week for three years straight. Yeah, that’s a lot of man hours.
  • Staff were fired if they couldn’t maintain the hours: Once again, if the first rumour is true than that pretty much confirms this one. In most industries, and especially the game industry, if you aren’t a team player – you aren’t playing. I can definitely see some family men or women deciding that L.A. Noire wasn’t worth missing out on their lives for the better part of a decade. Unfortunate.
  • Staff were fired, and then uncredited in the final product: This one is the most disturbing to me, and one I haven’t been able to prove or disprove at this point. The idea that somebody could work for, say, four years on a project and then not even have their name attached to the final product is nothing short of horrifying. I mean, dude, that’s basically lying. I know, I know. The credits of L.A. Noire were long enough to begin with, but give credit where credit is due.

Doesn’t seem like much does it? And yet here we are, a game developer who launched a hit (4 million copies sold) title and started a brand new IP are closing down instead of expanding.

Now, this isn’t completely unexpected. Earlier this year when Team Bondi moved into “administration” (never a good sign) there were reports of them selling off their assets to KMM (an Australian production company), and you don’t sell off your shit unless you are about to jump ship.

That’s not to say that L.A. Noire won’t make a sequel, Rockstar and Take Two Interactive will be handling the franchise from now on. So don’t worry L.A. Noire fans.

But now that the closure is final, I can’t help but wonder what exactly went down in the offices of Team Bondi. Was it the concentration camp that we were led to believe? Or is it simply a hardworking game studio which suffered from the vindictive actions of some disgruntled ex-employees?

This is a mystery too big for me to solve. Now if only Cole Phelps were on the case...

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