Dying Light 2 dev Techland under fire for alleged toxic management

A new report suggests that toxic management and bad feedback are slowing down the development of Dying Light 2, and causing employees to leave the studio.

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A new report suggests that Techland, the development studio behind Dying Light and Dying Light 2, is losing employees due to poor management and bad feedback.

Originally set to release in 2019, Dying Light 2’s development seems to have been marred quite a bit already, with the game seeing release date delays and constant changes in who is helping head up development within the studio. Now, a new report from TheGamer appears to shed more light on the situation, portraying an upper management team that is filled with toxicity, whose feedback and overall attitude have led to multiple employees leaving the studio behind.

The reported issues range from the studio hiring so-called “experts” who don’t have the experience needed to run the departments they are given to the studio’s CEO, Pawel Marchewka, reportedly being unwilling to listen to people within the studio—instead relying on the comments and opinions of people outside of the company. Other problems outlined by sources include upper management providing feedback like “this character looks gay” and even some more profane statements.

These issues have allegedly led to many key players in Dying Light 2’s development leaving the company, including Pawel Zawodny, who worked as chief development officer for nine years within the studio. Others have left, too, with many sources that talked to TheGamer stating that they felt like their work had been for nothing, as things changed so much throughout the course of the game’s development.

Where some are leaving, the report also suggests that Techland has a habit of hiring people that don’t have the right experience for the job, including its current creative director of marketing, Łukasz Janas, whose experience in the games and global market were both limited according to sources. The studio’s HR department is also run by Aleksandra Marchewka, the CEO’s wife. While Marchewka himself says there is no conflict of interest, other sources shared that if you could convince her that your idea was good, she might be able to convince her husband.

The report also notes several marketing ideas that were floated by the team, including the dumping of body bags near the Mexico border, as well as the use of medical testing kits for real diseases that would have been sent out to people marking them positive for the virus from the game. This latter idea was originally pushed around the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the test kits in question would have alerted users to real medical conditions that they suffered from, potentially causing stress or trauma.  Marchewka, the CEO of the company, told TheGamer that he supports a working environment where everyone is free to suggest things, but that not every idea is good, and most will not ever see the light of day. Shock marketing isn’t necessarily a new thing, but some of these ideas are definitely out there a bit.

There’s a lot to unpack in the report, and sources within the story don’t seem happy with how Techland has run things. Many cited poor direction, lack of trust in the experts hired in the studio, and unrealistic expectations as key reasons for the toxicity that the company is reportedly dealing with at the moment.

You can check out the full report from TheGamer for more details. We’ll continue to monitor the story and update with any additional information that is revealed as we dig deeper.

Guides Editor

Joshua holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and has been exploring the world of video games for as long as he can remember. He enjoys everything from large-scale RPGs to small, bite-size indie gems and everything in between.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 23, 2021 11:45 AM

    Josh Hawkins posted a new article, Dying Light 2 dev Techland under fire for alleged toxic management

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      February 23, 2021 9:13 AM

      Dying Light 2

      This report on the chaos at Techland, where the CEO, the 8th richest man in Poland, is micromanaging the team into the dust, is just Ow My Balls level ridiculousness:

      https://www.thegamer.com/techland-report-bleeding-talent-autocratic-management-bad-feedback/

      I’d had hopes for this game. Gonna give up on those. Also don’t click the link for the naked lady & cheetah photo hanging in the CEO’s office, it’s NWS....his wife is head of HR, so it doesn’t matter. :P

      • reply
        February 23, 2021 9:34 AM

        There were brief rumors that Microsoft was going to by them up.

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          February 23, 2021 9:35 AM

          I think I started them.

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            February 23, 2021 9:51 AM

            Well, maybe you need to work harder to drop that rumor in Phil Spencers ear.

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          February 23, 2021 10:03 AM

          Hey even MSFT 1st party studios are having issues. Drew Murray just went back to Insomniac, after ditching The Initiative a few weeks ago, allegedly for family reasons....GAME BIZ FAMILY, AMIRITE?

          https://www.videogameschronicle.com/news/perfect-darks-former-lead-designer-left-xbox-to-rejoin-sonys-insomniac/

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            February 23, 2021 10:06 AM

            TBF, Insomniac, if I recall correctly and am not thinking of a different dev, they are ranked like the number one company to work for in the world.

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              February 23, 2021 10:15 AM

              It’s certainly at the top of the heap. Murray spent many years there previously and was integral to some of their big hits (my favorite being Resistance 2, which was incredibly well-designed and paced for the time).

              But he left to be a founder of The Initiative, so to leave and go back to Insomniac just doesn’t say too much about the prognosis for the Perfect Dark reboot that was only just been revealed right before he skedaddled. Doesn’t say to much for that project, considering he was lead designer. :/

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                February 23, 2021 10:18 AM

                True... MS seems to be having issues holding on to talented devs... no bueno.

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                  February 23, 2021 10:19 AM

                  Who else has left?

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                    February 23, 2021 10:20 AM

                    I thought there was a lot of shakeup with the Halo team and 343 and... I don’t know maybe that was all...

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                      February 23, 2021 10:23 AM

                      Oh yeah. I haven’t really been following the Halo mess.

                      The only ones I care about at this point are the Zenimax B Team Allstars; Tango, Machine Games and Arkane, plus Ninja Theory, but they still appear to be on stable ground.

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            February 23, 2021 11:17 AM

            This is a poor take his brother died suddenly in December.

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              February 23, 2021 11:41 AM

              I’m sorry to hear his brother died. In fact that’s the first I’ve heard of it.

              However not everyone quits their leadership level job outright due to a death in the family. Taking some time off, yes, very understandable. Quitting then 3 weeks later resurfacing at your old company?

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                February 23, 2021 11:51 AM

                I guess I just prefer to accept when someone says it's for personal reasons then it's for personal reasons. Don't need to turn it into MS is having issues or Sony is having issues if it was the other way around.

                And I haven't had a sibling die suddenly but no I wouldn't question someone leaving a highly demanding leadership position and taking a smaller scale position at a company they were with previously for over 10 years.

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                  February 23, 2021 11:56 AM

                  Well he wasn’t fired so anything outside of that is going to be for personal reasons.

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                  February 23, 2021 12:05 PM

                  Unfortunately, there had already been a lot of swirling rumors that the game and team had serious issues, around the time it was revealed.

                  I thought the trailer had some interesting ideas, but after everything going on lately, I think I will have to be more circumspect about reveal trailers, especially when they’re all cinematics.

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                    February 23, 2021 12:41 PM

                    OK well criticize the game, can't we leave the guy alone that has just said his brother pass away and just wish him well. I like to think the way Shack has or had some devs posting here we'd be less sensationalist.

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                      February 23, 2021 1:07 PM

                      I wasn’t criticizing the guy in the first place??

                      I was always assuming there was something going wrong at the studio or he wouldn’t have left a studio he co-founded right after the public reveal of their game. Frankly, I was very glad to see that he hadn’t been bound by shitty non-compete clauses and could take on a new position at a rival Sony 1st party studio so quickly.

                      I probably post more threads sensitive to the interface dynamics between creative artists and money men in the game industry here than anyone else, so please excuse me if I don’t just humbly apologize for my wording in this case, on a day filled with ironic game news about the shitty ends of the industry. :/

                      I get your point. Wish you’d get mine.

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                        February 23, 2021 1:32 PM

                        I don't know what your point is, you didn't know that his brother had died but then when I pointed it out you seem to be still believing that isn't the reason he left even though he said it is?

                        I never said you were criticizing the guy, I said we should leave the guy alone when it's a sensitive situation. Meaning we shouldn't be questioning his motives or trying to make the story into something more than what he said it was.

                        If I'm reading you wrong then I apologise, I have no issue with your first post as you said you weren't aware of his brother passing. But it just seems like you're doubling down now, like I said if I'm wrong then I apologise.

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                          February 23, 2021 1:36 PM

                          Sorry, yeah I understand that personal things may be a factor, but I’m just approaching this as a curious chain of events, in the context of a lot of big shakeups in game news today.

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                February 23, 2021 12:10 PM

                I can see that sort of thing making you reevaluate where you were at.

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        February 23, 2021 9:56 AM

        Dying Game Company.

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        February 23, 2021 10:00 AM

        I just read the VtM: Bloodlines news too. Yeah next-gen AAA is no joke, guys. No more clown cars.

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          February 23, 2021 10:53 AM

          I am so sad. :(

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            February 23, 2021 10:59 AM

            What I’m hoping for is that this spurs more original IP in the long run. As much as I would love a good vampire game again, at last.

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              February 23, 2021 11:17 AM

              New IP is always welcomed. Project Mara from Ninja Theory is something I am pretty excited about.

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                February 23, 2021 11:45 AM

                I’m interested in it, but from what I could tell, it’s a small scale project. They have a third, unannounced title. That’s what I really am curious about.

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          February 23, 2021 7:44 PM

          Yeah, next gen game making is not something a company can just brute force its way into anymore.

      • reply
        February 23, 2021 10:01 AM

        Ugh, that sucks for the folks stuck in dev hell there. =(

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        February 23, 2021 10:04 AM

        Between this and Vampire I’m pretty disappointed in gaming news :(

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          February 23, 2021 10:18 AM

          Hey my third in this triumvirate was Watch Dogs: Legion, that got gutted and thrown in the trash. In 2019, these were the 3 I was excited about.

          I suppose the last one lingering on in the game industry ICU is now Beyond Good and Evil 2. :/

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        February 23, 2021 10:05 AM

        fuck. this was my most anticipated game, prolly on par with Cyberpunk.

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          February 23, 2021 10:21 AM

          It’s funny to think little Bloober Team might come out of all this as the strongest studio in Poland.

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            February 23, 2021 10:40 AM

            They bit off more than they can chew, figured that producing AAA games on B budgets would scale forever, but it hardly ever does

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        February 23, 2021 10:11 AM

        Woof what a massive bummer. Was really looking forward to the game but the radio silence for the past few (years?) has not been inspiring confidence.

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        February 23, 2021 10:30 AM

        It's crazy how many "AAA" games I was hyped for that I've just completely written-offf now.

        Dying Light 2
        Vampire Bloodlines 2
        Cyberpunk 2077
        System Shock 3

        Apparently making games is really hard. Sucks.

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          February 23, 2021 10:38 AM

          Dying Light 2 - CEO and managers he surrounds himself are shit; devs who have found better options bail.
          Vampire Bloodlines 2 - No idea what's going on, beyond the news brief I saw this AM
          Cyberpunk 2077 - Rushed a broken product to market, rather than taking their time & getting it right.
          System Shock 3 - What's been going on with this title?

          Neither DL2 nor CP2077 tell me that the devs failed to make the game they wanted. Instead, it sounds like the time-honored tradition of shitty management decisions having an inevitable negative impact on the product.

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            February 23, 2021 10:49 AM

            To be fair, I had pretty much written System Shock 3 off from the start. The devs, Otherside Entertainment, have released nothing but broken junk. They claim to have Warren Spector, but he hasn't done anything noteworthy in 20+ years. And it's been total radio silence since September 2019, when they released a teaser trailer that looked more like a Dead Space game than System Shock. I just have...very little hope that anything noteworthy comes of it.

            And to rub more salt in the System Shock wound, the guys making the System Shock remaster from Kickstarter (Nightdive) also appear to be suffering from bungled management. They got my $30 from Kickstarter almost 5 years ago now (5 fucking years!), and have done nothing but scrap, restart, and trickle out concept art since. It's a joke.

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              February 23, 2021 11:04 AM

              Good to know. I've actually never played any System Shock game -- I tried to play one of them a few years ago, but the controls and UI are too dated for me to look past. Was hoping to try out a modern remake on the Unreal Engine, but if it doesn't pan out... oh well, I won't know what I'm missing.

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              February 23, 2021 1:25 PM

              Nightdive has put out two playable demos and both were good!

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                February 23, 2021 1:37 PM

                Keep telling yourself that, dude. The first demo was five years ago. Five years. I gave them money to finish that game, because the demo was good. And what have they done since? Pissed away five years and released another demo that's just a remake of the first demo in a different engine.

                Absolutely nothing about this project warranted a five year development window. It's a small passion project for a relatively small game. If they had just finished the game that they originally pitched on Kickstarter, I think most people would have been a lot happier. It didn't have to be a 60-hour AAA open-world with crazy cinematics. It just needed to be System Shock in a slightly more modern game engine with a decent looking retro style. And they had that in hand! WTF happened?!?

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        February 23, 2021 10:33 AM

        Bummer I loved Dying Light but this is garbage.

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        February 23, 2021 10:35 AM

        that's a shame. seemed like something fucked up was going on in light of how long it had been in development and the few updates we'd be getting.

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        February 23, 2021 11:46 AM

        well that kills any interest in dl2 for me. I really liked dl1 and had hoped this wouldn't be stuck in development hell with bad management

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        February 23, 2021 12:02 PM

        Probably having difficulties figuring out how to add even more electricity and fire to melee weapons.

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      February 23, 2021 12:35 PM

      Chivalry 2 beta is available this time next month.

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