Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
October 21, 2014
arrowPress Releases
October 21, 2014
PR Newswire
View All





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


Capcom overworks devs, treats them with 'no mercy,' says  Street Fighter  producer
Capcom overworks devs, treats them with 'no mercy,' says Street Fighter producer
June 12, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

June 12, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
Comments
    33 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Capcom's Yoshinori Ono, the producer behind major fighting games including Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter X Tekken, is a bit unhappy with his employer, claiming that Capcom's overbearing demands led to his sudden hospitalization earlier this year.

Ono told Eurogamer that ever since the launch of Street Fighter IV in 2008, he's been tasked with not only making Capcom's flagship fighting games, but also with coordinating marketing efforts, appearing at press junkets, and more. He leads quite a busy life, and at times, he said he's been pushed to the edge.

"Capcom doesn't allow a trade union or any sort of worker movement you see," he said. "So if I complain I will probably get sacked. You have to say it for me, OK? I want you to write: 'Capcom overworks Ono'. That's your headline."

In March, Ono's health took a sudden turn for the worse, and even after spending some time in the hospital, he found that Capcom's management didn't hesitate to put him right back to work.

"Nobody told me to take a rest. When I returned to work, Capcom didn't even acknowledge that I had been in hospital. There was no change in my schedule. I was at home for an entire week before the doctors allowed me to return to work," he said.

"When I returned to my desk there was a ticket to Rome waiting for me. There's no mercy. Everyone in the company says: 'Ono-san we've been so worried about you.' Then they hand me a timetable and it's completely filled with things to do."

Ono added that he doesn't think his situation is unique. Rather, he's noticed that Capcom employees regularly disappear after finishing a new game, and he suspects it's because they've been worked far too hard.

"After I passed out, I was thinking in the hospital: there are so many people at Capcom that, over the years, have disappeared at one time or another. Suddenly, in that bed I understood what happened to them... The day after a game is finished and goes off to manufacture there are 10 empty desks, their previous occupants never to be seen again."

Despite being overworked himself, Ono said it hasn't made him any more sympathetic toward the younger staff members on his teams.

"Quite the opposite," he said. "I am a middle-aged man so I am saying to the younger ones: 'You have the energy, the stamina, the get-up and go. You should be doing better.'"


Related Jobs

Zynga
Zynga — Chicago, Illinois, United States
[10.21.14]

Senior Software Engineer (Front End)
Harmonix Music Systems
Harmonix Music Systems — Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
[10.21.14]

Senior Product Manager
Harmonix Music Systems
Harmonix Music Systems — Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
[10.21.14]

Web Developer
Cloud Imperium Games
Cloud Imperium Games — Santa Monica, California, United States
[10.21.14]

Marketing Director










Comments


William Johnson
profile image
Yoshinori Ono sure does sound like a great guy. Too bad he works for Capcom. He should rage quit and join Inafune, Mikami, or Kamiya at one of their new companies, or start his own company.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
profile image
Yep.

Might be particularly bad at Capcom, but it's like this in other parts of the industry too. It seems to be the growing trend. My experience is that you are seen as an object and not a person if you work at a game studio; since you are working the "dream job" you better put in insane hours for flat pay to make some execs rich (ignoring the fact that it's not much of a "dream job" working on generic shooter number three thousand). Then when your project ships you are kicked to the curb with no royalties to look forward to, and scramble to do it again not out of passion but out of needing to pay rent, wanting to escape the guilt of drawing unemployment, wanting to avoid having your home foreclosed, etc. This leads to a numbing mentality where it is impossible to care about what you are working on as anything more than a temporary life raft leaking air, which is not how good games are made. And it's not how healthy lives are lived either.

Nobody in the triple A sector gives a fuck about you. Three jobs of good reviews followed by layoffs has taught me this. And yes, it seems to be this way in other industries as well, but commonality doesn't make something right. The ruling elite top/middle manager class have become heartless subhuman instruments of torment that ship your jobs overseas then take your home when you can't afford to pay for it -- and they need to be eliminated. I don't think violence is the answer, but the difficulty with doing what is the most efficient and ethical answer - collectivizing and striking - is that the media driven by corporate interest has pushed the lie that unionizing is evil, unpatriotic, etc. etc. Wrong. Game Theory. Imagine a competitive game with less "win" slots than players and the possibility for temporary alliances. The obvious strategy when one person or a few people get ahead is for the weak players who are behind to form a temporary strategic alliance to increase their odds; this is what a union is. This is all that a union is. If the ruling elite don't want unions, then let's convert our economy from a cutthroat competitive one where layoffs are seen as strategic moves instead of tragedies into a cooperative game where temporary alliances can be replaced with permanent alliances between all. Until then, this _is_ class warfare, and the working/poor classes sure as hell didn't start it.

To say we shouldn't have unions because there is the potential of them to become corrupt too is to say we shouldn't put out home fires because of the potential for water damage. Union corruption is possible, but it is slow and easy to plan around. Wage slavery and the shrinking middle class are urgent problems now leading to depression, post-job loss suicides, foreclosures, and other atrocities that make me wonder how much longer we will have a "first world". We can collectivize temporarily, hell we can collectivize long-term without giving away our rights to selfish third party power-whores who would take advantage of a union structure. Have faith in our intelligence. To give unions legs beyond their sole logical purpose is a mistake easily avoided, yet it is paraded as the inevitable outcome in order to keep wage slavery in place by making the working class scared to even talk about unionizing, as if working longer hours for less wages and less job stability while the rich get richer is just "the way it's supposed to be". It is absurd, inhumane, immoral, and frankly as worthy of violent retort as any "let them eat cake!" mentality toward the lower classes, but I do hope we can wise up and fix this without violence.

EDIT: Full disclosure, recently let go for "not being happy" working at a crunch-mentality job. Was assured that I did my job well and got good reviews. Was assured I wasn't being let go because I was a loose cannon or bringing the team down. I am depressed now in a way I don't feel comfortable describing as the idiotic reflex response to depression seems to be "oh let's get this guy to a mental institute" as if there is no obvious externality that can be addressed causing said depression (such as rebalancing the power between labor and capital that capital stole). My ex-boss said he reads my gama comments and assured me that my arguing for better working conditions on here had nothing to do with the decision; I refused to sign the gag-order severance to keep my freedom of speech available so I can do what little I can to let people know there is hope to fix this shithole of an industry. Ex-Boss, I hope you read this so you know my fire has not been put out. And I am not alone. The ones with talent will inherit the glory we rightfully deserve from the ruling class that have developed an elaborate prison system around our dreams and desires to contribute to humanity in a _healthy_ way. There is still time to change this before it gets ugly. Pick your side carefully, things always get ugly when people are pushed to their limit.

As always, anyone who wants to talk (anonymously if you must) can contact me at eiyukabe at gmail dot com. Still trying to conglomerate to free the people who are being abused by this god-forsaken industry. I don't have any power, I don't have any press connections, but I do this because it is all I can do. I have been emotionally battered to the point that I don't even enjoy making games anymore, so I don't fear being blacklisted. I don't even really fear hatred, poverty, or death in light of the courage I see that I must have to fix this broken world. I speak non-anonymously because I've considered my life and dreams throwaway now. Someone has to do it to fight back against exploitation; here's hoping I can make a dent.

Alan Rimkeit
profile image
This post is as powerful an argument for real Indie games and movements like Kickstarter as I have ever read on Gamasutra. I used to want to work in the industry. Knowing the truth that has been revealed to me over the last past couple of years has changed that in a profound way. The only way I see is for the "little people" to band together to create our own system. Stop "playing their game" if you will. Do not sign contracts for so called riches that will never come. Keep control of our own creative ideas. Self publish even if it means making smaller games or projects.

I want to make games so people(mainly kids) can have fun. Like I did when I was young. We need to go back to how things worked back in the 80's before everything got taken over by the huge money grubbing corporate bean counters who only answer to the stock holders on Wall Street. When creative people made games out of the love for fun in their basements and garages. We need to go old school in a new way.

As for Yoshinori Ono, I wish him the best of luck. But he needs to leave that corporate ran slave labor grind fest. Start his own studio. Go on Kickstarter to make his own games. I am sure he has enough friends with industry experience to start a studio of worth. People would give him cash just on his cred and notoriety alone, a la Tim Schafer. Stop being slaves, revolt and start our own game.

BTW, I too do not care about being public either. I am never applying for any job working for any AAA studio ever. That thought makes me sad. Others can, but I wont do it. Too many terrible stories about abuse that frankly scared the crap out of me. But I still will make games for the love of fun. Not to get rich or famous. But for fun. Like games should be.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
profile image
"I want to make games so people(mainly kids) can have fun. Like I did when I was young."

You have no idea how much that helps my sanity, to hear someone else feel that way; thank you.

Regarding the indie movement, Indie Game: The Movie just came out on Steam today for anyone (like me) who did not get a chance to see its theatre screenings. I just finished downloading it and haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but hopefully it can motivate people to find ways to keep their dreams from being corrupted by corporatism and show people that success can come from wanting what's best for your audience instead of wanting what's best for your share holders.

And yeah, I see no reason for myself to give the mainstream game industry any more chances. I feel like a fool for giving it three, but there is no reason I must doom myself to be a fool forever. Jobs in other industries and indie development on the side, hoping you don't get screwed over like some indies do with BS trademark infringement lawsuits (a la Langdell) or have your game cloned by Zynga. Seems to be all one can do.

Alan Rimkeit
profile image
Your welcome Jeff. People like you and your anecdotal stories have saved me a bit of pain I would imagine. I am sorry to hear about your experiences. Your not the first nor the last I would imagine.

I will watch this movie you recommend. I wonder if it is on Netflix as it sounds like a documentary of sorts. They have a lot of those as of late. I don't have Steam. Maybe I should remedy that soon. I did not know that they are distributing movies via Steam these days. How wonderful that must be for smaller art house movie makers.

I plan on making games on the side as I work in another job like you mentioned. This seems to be the plan of action for many aspiring Indie game creators. As for the fears of getting your ideas stolen from you, well, that is always the risk is it not? We can only try our best. If you ever come to Austin, TX please look me up. Maybe we can go have a pint.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
profile image
"I wonder if it is on Netflix as it sounds like a documentary of sorts."

It looks like it can also be found here: http://www.indiegamethemovie.com/

"If you ever come to Austin, TX please look me up. "

Sure :). Not sure if that will happen soon as I'm hanging out in the south east for the near future trying to get things back on track, but thanks for the invitation.

Eric McVinney
profile image
Ya know, having worked around the globe for certain AAA studios (mainly publishers), I'm *VERY* happy working for a small start up. No bull---- crunch hours appearing at the last minute, nor having to deal with piss poor management. Everyone who pulls their weight gets the job done and you actually get to see the results. I like, no, love creating new ideas and sharing them with everyone on a mutual level. It feels absolutely wonderful not having office politics involved, as well :|

Thomas Grove
profile image
@Alan Quality of life for some Indie developers is equally bad and also leads to health problems.

Ron Dippold
profile image
Jeff, since you've got enough likes here (including me) I am just Liking you for the Nyanpire avatar.

E McNeill
profile image
Jeffrey: This really needs to get posted as a true call-to-arms, rather than just a comment.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
profile image
@E McNeill

I can make it an official call to arms if you like, I'm ready for that. A few other devs and I started talking via email already in a sort of call-to-arms manner, and we got a website started with the intention of providing public advice and private forums for developers to collaborate on fixing the industry so they get the respect and success they deserve. Of course in a slightly ironic twist we all got distracted by sporadic crunch. Probably time for me to get back in touch with them now that I am unemployed and not crunching; even if they still are, I should be able to put in the gruntwork to make the site presentable.

Does private forums seem like a good idea? The logistics aren't easy: anonymous posting would be good for whistle blowing on poor working conditions, but there should be some form of identity verification to keep middle managers from sneaking in and spying on what their devs are doing to try to fix things without being fired. Also even though I think it is beyond time for such tactics, I think there should be some form of stop-gap to keep it from getting ugly with the true end goal of peace in the game industry, not just tearing suits limb-from-limb (unless they really ask for it ;] ).

What kind of call to arms did you have in mind? Might be something better than I've been able to think of.

E McNeill
profile image
Jeffrey: I don't think you need to be concerned with anybody infiltrating your forums. Set something up, explain why you think something needs to be done, and let people be anonymous or not. The developers are going to be more interested and more numerous anyway, so just let the conversation roll. Set a calm and rational (not angry) standard for discussion, and perhaps start out by looking at unions in other entertainment fields (like moviemaking) for inspiration. EDIT: A start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Alliance_of_Theatrical
_Stage_Employees

Christopher Moller
profile image
Dear Jeffrey,

I liked your post so much that it made me register here so that I could comment.

I too was involved in the games industry, and I noticed the same trends.

So I took my animation/programming skills on towards the film production direction, with the ultimate aim of creating indie content and working as an indie on projects I liked. I now work with a small team on novel projects.

How can we change the gaming industry?

Well, in our research, we recently came across this hilarious, but true, patent:
google.com/patents/US20120052930?printsec=drawing#v=onepage&q&f=fa lse

System and method for the heros journey mythology code of honor video game engine and heros journey code of honor spy games wherein one must fake the enemy's ideology en route to winning (where in this case, the enemy is, as Jeff states, "The ruling elite top/middle manager class have become heartless subhuman instruments of torment that ship your jobs overseas then take your home when you can't afford to pay for it -- and they need to be eliminated." )

See figure 14!

"FIG. 14. shows the spy game in the context of agreeing with fanboyz so as to get hired at their fanboy videogame companies, conforming to the hipster fanboy opinions as one rises to the top, so as to fire the upper level management and create awesome, epic games with exalted storytelling instead of fanboy fluff. The player must make choices in word and deed. The choices consist of things like: “Do you agree with the hip Fanbabies/Fanboyz in words and/or deeds? YES (you go lzozlzlz boobies! More boobies! Less story/less Dante! Beatrice's boobies! (Forgoing the hero's journey mythology code of honor.)) Fanbabies/Fanboys/Fanmbas hire you to develop games. Do you feign agreement with the hipster Fanboyz/Fanmbas in words and/or deeds? If yes, Ascend corporate Ladder, to Where you can fire the fanmba management and create Exalted games with story, soul, and meaning. But the games are not that great as you wasted too much time fanboying up Instead of cowboying up. If no, Fanboyz/fanboy management exiles/fires you. You, the player, thus fails to infiltrate corporation and leverage their assets to create Exalted games With story, soul, and meaning, And save world With renaissance. Be Resurrected like NEO (as your ideals are immortal) and create even greater games! Yay! Getting rejected rocks! We must lose the life we have, so as to find the one we were meant for, out beyond the corporate-state death stars of game creation. FIG. 14. (This is why the Hero's Journey Mythology Code of Honor is so valuable, because when the arrogant hipster fanmba rejects it you can found an exalted games company on the keystone the fanbabies tossed aside. He who Lzozlzlles last lzozlzlzls best!) "

Thanks again Jeffery.

Hold on to your ideals, as ultimately, that is where all true art comes from.

Alan Rimkeit
profile image
@Thomas Grove - Yes, that may be true. But at least it would be on my own time for my own reasons. Intent and purpose make all the difference I have found.

Achilles de Flandres
profile image
Definately agree with everything you said in your post. I have been laid off three times in 2 years. Did good work and never complained, once the game shipped, I was let go and had to scramble to find another job, and I was so desperate that I took it for half of what I made before. It's been nothing but a downward spiral.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
profile image
@Christopher haha, that is great. While it gave me a laugh, I have to admit that I don't understand what they are going for by making it an actual patent application instead of a satirical blog post.

kevin williams
profile image
We have to remember that Capcom has form for staff workload - the original developer of STRIDER suffered greatly in developing his art and would go on to have a breakdown. Capcom management has a track-record of unreasonable milestones, and also a difficulty in taking responsibility. How much of this is to due with an inferiority complex against the larger corporations (game houses), or just a poor management structure has yet to be revealed.

Alan Rimkeit
profile image
Man, I loved that game Strider. I put so many quarters into that game it was crazy. Sad to hear your story. :(

Joe McGinn
profile image
Too bad as a producer he's not moving things forward, since he says he treats his young guys the same way. He, in other words, is part of the problem.

Alan Rimkeit
profile image
Yes, it sounds like the Japanese game market needs to follow in the footsteps of Steam and Kickstarter. They have been talking of a general "malaise" that has killing the video games industry there. I think I have figured out what it is. They are all working themselves into hospitals or worse. They need a paradigm shift for the good of themselves. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won't. Maybe they are all doomed. Who knows.

Jonathan Murphy
profile image
The game industry can be brutal on your health. I got gall stones from crunch time. It made me stop and think about what I'm working for.

Eric McVinney
profile image
Oh (majority of the) Japanese gaming industry, have ye learned nothing yet? Wasn't it enough for you when Inafune left Capcom?

Jerome Goomba
profile image
i totally agree with all that have been said. curretly working for a french start up, my dream is not to join big studio like ubi soft. I prefer small team with human management.

@Eric Sadly this kind of story does not happened only in the japanese gaming industry. Crunch time and overwork is a reality in a lot of studio which is sad because it feels like it is normal which is not.

Eric McVinney
profile image
Oh, I do realize it's not just happening in the Japanese industry, but since this article was about a Japanese developer/publisher... ;)

David Oso
profile image
lol...no mercy man

Inafune complained about things like this, Capcom just don't care.
It's time for him to leave.

Colin Ferguson
profile image
I imagine Yoshinori Ono's employers aren't exactly happy about this interview, and why he couldn't communicate it to them face to face. Being really, really overworked and burnout is a pretty bad combo. Poor guy. It is, however, immensely disrespectful to communicate your job disatisfaction via the press. I hope he's got enough socked away for a vakay and his contribution to a start up.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
profile image
"I imagine Yoshinori Ono's employers aren't exactly happy about this interview, and why he couldn't communicate it to them face to face."

I'm sure plantation owners weren't happy about being in the dark about the underground railroad.

You're not in the mainstream game industry are you? This is the only way we can change things; the people in power in this industry that have any power to fix things ignore us. Speaking up and using press to pressure the evils in this industry into behaving honestly is what we need to be doing, and frankly it's only a small part of what we need to be doing.

This is like saying it's disrespectful to publicize spousal abuse; just compromise with your abusive spouse who has all the power over you and hope they change with no incentive to? Hell I'm a nice person and I've tried that at work, just to be laid off anyway. It just. Doesn't. Work. And no you don't just walk away and save your own hide, letting them abuse the next spouse; you do exactly what Yoshinori is doing -- expose evil any way you feel comfortable doing so the world can become a better and more just place. This is exactly what they deserve for ruining our industry, and as more people do it it will snowball as we realize we are united.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
profile image
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/analogy?s=t

Jeffrey Crenshaw
profile image
No analogy is 1:1; give me an analogy that you think I can't find a "flaw" in. If you give an "analogy" that is completely 1:1 then it is no longer an analogy, it is a tautology. Analogies and tautologies are both valid and serve different rhetorical purposes. But linguistics is not the important issue of our times, so I want to get back to the topic I was addressing.

The similarity I was going for is that the power holders (employers/ slaveowners) are never happy when those they have power over (employees/ slaves) try to improve their lot. It's a matter of degrees really. Sure slavery involves a lack of options for people. Although really this isn't true as those people "could" choose to revolt and risk their lives or they "could" choose to escape (via, say, an underground railroad) or they "could" kill their owners. Their owners aren't using mind control are they? Why, the fact that they choose to work in the fields shows volition on their part, so where's the harm? Modern wage slavery involves a multitude of options for people, except that they can only choose to work at a job that exists and that is willing to hire them and when they do they can't "go home to their families" any time they want as their employer can legally demand they work twenty hours a day every day. And then we are back at slave-like coercion -- they don't "have" to have jobs, they can quit and avoid getting unemployment and then not be able to pay their mortgages and lose their homes.

I still think slavery is worse than wage slavery in the same way that shooting someone is worse than punching them, but why quibble about degrees? Evil is evil (tautology, since that seems to be the standard you are going for). At the very least comparing wage slavery to slavery is _NOT_ "asinine", and I find the thought that it is, well -- asinine.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
profile image
Just to clarify, wage slavery is not a phrase I made up to be a boat-rocking punk, it has a history and real psychological role-oriented negativities that tie it to physical slavery: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wage_slavery#Self-Identity_Problems_
and_Stress. I hope you will research the topic a bit, if you have the time.

"to be in a life situation where one experiences relentless demands by others, over which one has relatively little control, is to be at risk of poor health, physically as well as mentally." I believe if you analyze a random cross section of society, you will find a lot of people who have done all the "right" things (they are not bad or lazy people) but have suffered avoidable travesties (job loss, depression, losing their homes) from systemic flaws. It's more complicated than "if you don't work I'll whip you", but it is _incredibly_ important that we don't shrug these issues with our society off as they lead to immense opportunity costs regarding individual happiness and practical liberty (theoretically we are all "free", but the wage slavery system has made it so owners of capital have a lot more opportunities to exploit and increase their own happiness than owners of labor, and seeing as a society can operate without capital but not without labor, this is backwards from what it should be).

Eric McConnell
profile image
What's the solution, Guilds like the film industry?

Shawn Lord
profile image
The first step is to get interested individuals communicating about these issues in common forum on a more regular basis.

We've been working on establishing a nonprofit to take a more active approach to tackling quality of life issues. It's coming along, but ultimately, it's not a case of, "if you build it they will come..."

If we don't take an active role in this, it's not going to fix itself - most companies don't see the immediate benefit in making these changes.

Even as we build momentum, we need to get the word out to folks that have an interest in concepts like game development policy and process reform, trade guilds, unions, or tools to help give devs more information and options.

Check us out here: www.thecollectiveagreement.org

Thanks,
-Shawn

May Kaneshiro
profile image
It's sad that some game studios treat their developers in this way. We are not an AAA game studio and like all studios, we work hard to make a successful game, but not at the expense of our employees. As a game producer for a children's virtual world game based in Vancouver, I know that we are still hiring (locally and remotely if the talent is great!) and based on this article, I'm wondering if we're too soft on our developers. Just kidding.. Seriously, we officially gave our entire development team the day off for July 20th in celebration of The Dark Knight Rises movie so everybody has a long weekend to relax and enjoy the movie.


none
 
Comment: