"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"
I have been working at Relic Entertainment full-time
Doesn't Recommend - Negative Outlook - Disapproves of CEO
- 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.
- 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).
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.
- 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
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.
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?
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!
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;
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.