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July 14, 2020
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Former temps claim NetherRealm has long history of exploitation and abuse

Former temps claim NetherRealm has long history of exploitation and abuse

May 2, 2019 | By Chris Kerr

Mortal Kombat developer NetherRealm came under fire last week for allegedly exploiting contractors and normalizing crunch, with a handful of former developers speaking out against the studio. 

Now, an investigation from USgamer has lent more credence to those allegations, and suggests the studio has a long history of abusing contractors and fostering toxicity. 

Detailing their own experiences at the studio, four former members of NetherRealm's contract team -- who worked on games including Mortal Kombat 9, 10, and Injustice 2 -- recalled how the company would "take advantage" of their contractors, with full-timers often treating them like second-class citizens. 

Those interviewed spoke of how the studio would string temps along with the promise of full-time gigs so it could finish projects, and explained some contractors would "break down because they could not keep up" with the workload -- with one source claiming they worked a 220-hour month at one point.

"The number of temporary workers at that studio is high and competition is fierce," commented one source, while another claimed the "lowest tier of contractor employees were put in the same windowless room."

It's also alleged that NetherRealm would regularly poach ideas for key features like fatalities from temp staffers, because the studio wouldn't have to pay them anything extra. Meanwhile, full-time employees would also apparently abuse their position by dictating every aspect of a temp's working day and handing out offensive nicknames.

"I know full-time employees that would take extra long lunches and told contractors when they could take their lunch, or when they could take their break. They would micromanage us," commented another former contractor. 

"[Temps] were called nicknames behind their backs and they were very inappropriate, especially for women. A lot of the nicknames for women were really perverted and disgusting."

To learn more about this story, you can read the full article over on USgamer.

Update: In a brief statement handed to Variety, NetherRealm has pledged to investigate all of the allegations against it, and explained that creating a "positive work experience" and reducing crunch time is a top priority. 

"At NetherRealm Studios, we greatly appreciate and respect all of our employees and prioritize creating a positive work experience. As an equal opportunity employer, we encourage diversity and constantly take steps to reduce crunch time for our employees," commented the studio.

"We are actively looking into all allegations, as we take these matters very seriously and are always working to improve our company environment. There are confidential ways for employees to raise any concerns or issues."

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