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Relic close to shutting down - not profitable

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16 Jan 2018, 05:47 AM
#1
avatar of SturmtigerCobra
Patrion 310

Posts: 887 | Subs: 11

Relic Breaking News:
"One bad game away from the studio shutting down"

This was posted Jan 3, 2018 on glassdoor studio reviews by a current Relic dev/employee + official response by Relic GM (the studio boss/director);
"One bad game away from the studio shutting down"
https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Relic-Entertainment-Reviews-E533032.htm
I have been working at Relic Entertainment full-time
Doesn't Recommend - Negative Outlook - Disapproves of CEO

Pros

- Relic has a talented and hardworking engineering team that is the backbone for keeping Relic up and running.
- Reasonable annual bonuses have been provided even though the studio hasn't been profitable.
-Overtime isn't crazy for the most part outside of the necessary crunches before a milestone or game launch.
- Solid history of successful and well-known games in the back catalog.
- Good effort at promoting social events from the big events like Summer BBQ and Xmas Party and small ones like movie and gaming nights.
- Nice central location in Yaletown close to transit hubs and restaurants, but the office itself isn't great as there's always funky smells from the restaurants below and a lack of office perks like ping-pong, massage chairs and casual spaces.
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Cons

- There's a lack of career growth opportunities with no structure or guidance in place to help people advance their careers.
- Annual compensation increases for cost of living and inflation are very poor (around 1% or less each year)
- There's no great office perks or benefits to take advantage of aside from the gym membership discount.
- There's some serious cultural and people issues that need to be addressed (see advice below).
Show Less

Advice to Management

The Game Side
The RTS and Strategy genre is pretty much dead and unprofitable outside of a few titles like Total War and Starcraft. As a studio we need to evolve or die and unfortunately we haven't chosen to really evolve and make games that people want to play in this current market. We should take a very serious look at what the landscape for RTS and Strategy games are and assess if we have the right people and technology to create hit games.
The People Side
I think the biggest issue with our current leadership team is that we may have the wrong people in key decision making roles when it comes to the game's direction. We don't understand what gamers want and end-up over-analyzing what we think they want. There's no culture or support for speaking-up as a couple of people on a team will make decisions that everyone has to follow. This has led to a culture of distrust and apathy.
Advice
- Don't do these post-mortems and bring in experts if there's never going to be a proper follow-up or attempt to change and improve things. It frustrates the team when we do this big show around self-review and wanting to change and then never doing anything afterward. It's good to see that we're aware that there are problems that need fixing, but it's a real downer to see that we don't follow through at all with improving things.
- We need to look at a different system of developing games where the balance of power and decision making isn't placed on a couple of people who ignore team feedback and lead us down the wrong path. It caused a critical failure with Dawn of War 3 and it's now causing our next big game to be an epic failure as well because the team's opinions simply don't matter. It's insane that a couple of team members decide the entire direction of the game without any real effort to get input and buy-in from the team. This approach could work if we had the right visionary type people, but we don't - instead we have design leadership who are invisible, out-of-touch or who are extremely difficult to work with due to their arrogance and bully-like approach.

The Bottom Line
A lot of us love working at Relic and working with each other. But we're all honestly saddened by the direction the studio has taken over the past few years. It's clear we lack an identity, a positive culture and the right leadership to inspire and guide us forward. There is a heavy feeling in the studio that if and when our next big game releases and is a flop then it's game over for Relic. We're not going to get a 2nd or 3rd chance especially after the Dawn of War 3 fiasco. Talk to your people and really dig-in to what worries them and keeps them up at night. There will be a common concern that we simply aren't equipped with the right leadership to lead us to success.

Response by Relic General Manager/Studio Director;
Relic Entertainment Response Jan 15, 2018 – General Manager
Hey,

First, I want to say thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, I really do appreciate it. Many of the points laid out here we’re aware of, but you’ve given me a lot to think about as well.

We’ve been growing a lot as we gear up for our new projects. This is a really great thing for the future of Relic, but with that comes growing pains as well. I totally hear where you’re coming from regarding the dynamic with your leaders and managers. I’m not happy that you (and likely other employees) feel that you’re not being heard. Our games are the product of each and every person in the studio and I don’t believe we can be successful if we aren’t listening.

Given that you’re a current employee, I have a favor to ask of you – keep the feedback coming! Speak up at our AMAs, we can go grab a quick coffee, or you can just send me an email. I always want to hear your thoughts, not only about the good things, but also where we can improve and if I’ve let you down. Especially if I’ve let you down.

I’m proud to work with some of the most talented people in the industry, and it really will take all of us to keep Relic great.

Justin

Former Creative Assembly employee and full time youTube/twitch producer DarrenTotalWar talk about AoE4 and Relic in recent youtube videos (see below). Darren predicts Relic will close down if they mess up with AoE4.

33:47 - Excited for Age of Empires 4?
1:08:49 - Will AOE4 be good?

Darren Disclaimer;
I rely on steam spy stats to discern that DOW3 was a failure commercially. I don't know how SEGA view it internally. I don't know the budget for the game. I worked as a video editor on a marketing team within the Total War team, in a different continent.

This is just speculation. I predict industry news for many studios, based on articles, steam spy information and playerbases etc. I do not, nor have I received insider information about anything going on at Relic. So I have not "confirmed" anything. I just also share the feeling that after a few bad games, a studio may close down.


DARREN JOINS CA!
https://forums.totalwar.com/discussion/146771/darren-joins-ca
https://twitter.com/darrenrop?lang=da

Darren has previously made CoH2 beginner guides that were posted on official CoH website.


Longer explanation what might happen (worst case scenario prediction) I posted here;
https://www.coh2.org/topic/62922/relic-working-on-age-of-empires-4/post/649118

On a personal note;
I applaud the current/former devs that so far have spoken about Relic internal troubles.
Community and customer trust is earned by being honest/consistent, so plz no more smooth talking leaders.
Remember transparency is a double edged sword so it's time to clean house.
aaa
16 Jan 2018, 06:12 AM
#2
avatar of aaa

Posts: 1483

coh2 wasnt bad. Main problem woth this game is its single digit iq axis community that ruin everything on daily basis.
I switched to lichess for now https://lichess.org/@/Fairplayer1. RTSs are too unstable, prone to changes including wrong ones
16 Jan 2018, 06:13 AM
#3
avatar of Tobis
Senior Strategist Badge
Donator 11

Posts: 2295 | Subs: 4

Surprising absolutely nobody.


I'm a bit concerned that they have announced AoE4 and released literally no information about it at all, even after 4 months. I imagine they are trying to drum up the hype train early to gauge public opinion on what people want; DoW3 clearly shows that Relic has no idea.
16 Jan 2018, 06:35 AM
#4
avatar of Rosbone
Senior Mapmaker Badge

Posts: 1404 | Subs: 2

LUNATIC THOUGHTS:
It seems odd that they would build a new building if they plan on closing it down. Unless the city is giving them incentives to use the building. Sometimes a city will give you the building cheap or not get tax revenue for a few years as incentive.

Every place you work at will have someone complaining about something. If the bosses are on you "the place sucks they are jerks". If they let you do your job and dont bother you then "they are not professional."

But as I have said 100 times before:
"I think the biggest issue with our current leadership team is that we may have the wrong people in key decision making roles when it comes to the game's direction."
Someone at Relic is high up and somewhat incompetent. Maybe they are really cool so everyone goes along with their dumb ideas and tries to implement them as best they can.

If the raise you got sucked, it could be you. Hard to work with, cant program, draws wieners on everything, etc. Or its because DOW III tanked?

AOE4 is going to take a long time to make. I do not expect to hear anything about it for at least 18-24 months?

Oh and I love how they ask the person to speak up so they can fire his ass. o_O

We all know it was Kyle that wrote the Glassdoor thingy :lolol:
16 Jan 2018, 07:44 AM
#6
avatar of nigo
Senior Editor Badge

Posts: 2146 | Subs: 14

Nice one again Cobra.
16 Jan 2018, 07:46 AM
#7
avatar of |GB| The Hooligan486
Senior Referee Badge

Posts: 3602 | Subs: 1

Off topic post invised.

Interesting article Cobra :)
16 Jan 2018, 07:54 AM
#8
avatar of Highfiveeeee

Posts: 1740

It caused a critical failure with Dawn of War 3 and it's now causing our next big game to be an epic failure as well because the team's opinions simply don't matter.


This means RIP AoE IV?
16 Jan 2018, 08:10 AM
#9
avatar of strafniki

Posts: 558 | Subs: 1

jump backJump back to quoted post16 Jan 2018, 06:12 AMaaa
coh2 wasnt bad. Main problem woth this game is its single digit iq axis community that ruin everything on daily basis.


you are one pathetic allied fanboy, thats all.


3 1/2 years after the release the game is still far away of being perfect and it has to rely on the community to get pudding done. lelic has failed again, who would have expected that. i also have a bad feeling about AoE4 - but i dont think microsoft will let the ultimate fail happen :wave:
16 Jan 2018, 08:46 AM
#10
avatar of DonnieChan

Posts: 1879 | Subs: 1

CoH and Dawn of War are the only games i can zoom in and then I'm literally in a war movie because of the animations, explosions, shoutings, sound of engines, gunfire etc.

i'm afraid I won't get this ever again :( :( :(
16 Jan 2018, 09:11 AM
#11
avatar of Switzerland
Donator 33

Posts: 491

Manager to anonymous dev, "send me an email" lol they are not gonna do that one.
16 Jan 2018, 09:18 AM
#12
avatar of Sturmpanther
Lead Strategist Badge

Posts: 5359 | Subs: 28

I like this employee.

But yeah the try to ask for an email or personal contact LUL --> want to fire him xD
16 Jan 2018, 09:19 AM
#13
avatar of MajorBloodnok
Admin Red  Badge
Patrion 314

Posts: 10627 | Subs: 9

Manager to anonymous dev, "send me an email" lol they are not gonna do that one.


Unless it is some form of Canadian seppuku? :p
16 Jan 2018, 09:25 AM
#14
avatar of JohnSmith

Posts: 1273

Aren't most studios nowadays one-bad-title-from-closing-down anyway?
16 Jan 2018, 09:32 AM
#15
avatar of momo4sho
Senior Caster Badge
Donator 22

Posts: 464 | Subs: 1

I think most studios have little leeway for major titles failing. Its not a situation unique to relic.
16 Jan 2018, 09:48 AM
#16
avatar of MajorBloodnok
Admin Red  Badge
Patrion 314

Posts: 10627 | Subs: 9

jump backJump back to quoted post16 Jan 2018, 06:35 AMRosbone
LUNATIC THOUGHTS:
It seems odd that they would build a new building if they plan on closing it down. Unless the city is giving them incentives to use the building. Sometimes a city will give you the building cheap or not get tax revenue for a few years as incentive.

...


Relic get some form of subsidy from British Columbia, I believe.
16 Jan 2018, 10:18 AM
#17
avatar of vasa1719

Posts: 2635 | Subs: 4

Permanently Banned
I dont undestand anythink, only feel that AOE4 are in danger :banana:
16 Jan 2018, 12:02 PM
#18
avatar of Phoenix101

Posts: 59

I dont undestand anythink, :banana:


First time I've seen you speak the truth.


There's no way a company like Sega would simply shut Lelic down. Far more likely they'll repurpose them to pander to the market. Maybe get them making match-3.

I guess that amounts to the same resukt for us though.

The des ription of the problems does sound fairly legit. The author must have been deeply frustrated for some time so it's likely there's a large element of truth to it.

Or it could be a millenial snowflake allied fanboy/girl who wants his/her ideas implemented so he/she feels valued.


In any case, when a game is being officially patched by community members and top players are complaining about the changes - you're getting close to the end of the road.

#NerfbritISandSovCheez
16 Jan 2018, 12:34 PM
#19
avatar of Dangerous-Cloth

Posts: 2066

This is sad but to be expected. I just don't get how you can ignore your dev team's feedback when you are designing a game and still be unaware of what your customers and potential customers want when you have a medium called the Internet which makes you able to communicate with pretty much anyone on the planet.

Ah well. If AoE4 fails then there will be no coh3.
16 Jan 2018, 13:00 PM
#20
avatar of MajorBloodnok
Admin Red  Badge
Patrion 314

Posts: 10627 | Subs: 9

This is sad but to be expected. I just don't get how you can ignore your dev team's feedback when you are designing a game and still be unaware of what your customers and potential customers want when you have a medium called the Internet which makes you able to communicate with pretty much anyone on the planet.

Ah well. If AoE4 fails then there will be no coh3.


The only observation with which I disagree here is your conclusion.

If SEGA paid approximately $26 million for Relic in 2013, my guess is that SEGA could sell on Relic and another developer would finish COH3. In fact, it has been at the back of my mind that SEGA may be using AoE4 as a marketing tool and could try to sell off Relic before the release of AoE4 - it would be a safer bet than waiting on the outcome of AoE4, when the value of the Relic asset could diminish.
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