It’s been nearly two years since Undead Labs revealed State of Decay 3, and we haven’t heard much about the game since. Though it’s been speculated that there have been some development issues behind the scenes, it now appears that the problems at the studio run much deeper than that. New reports allege a history of sexism, mistreatment, and burnout at Undead Labs.
A recently published report from Kotaku dives deep into allegations made against the studio by current and former employees. The twelve people that the outlet spoke to all shared stories that depict Undead Labs as a toxic work environment. The handful of years since the studio was acquired by Microsoft are described as being particularly bad, as Microsoft’s “hands-off” approach facilitated bad practices at Undead Labs.
“The culture the studio had up until recently was not the most hospitable for anyone that was not a white cishet man,” one of the anonymous developers told Kotaku. “It’s improved in the last six months or so. But the studio hired a lot of diverse talent that it did not adequately support [in the past].”
There are also anecdotes of poor management tactics, including the fact that workers were often moved around throughout different teams, making it hard for there to be a sense of consistency within groups. “Every couple of months, after a milestone, teams would be completely broken up and shuffled around into new teams.” The report also states that there were instances in which QA workers were told not to report on certain bugs so that there would appear to be progression in State of Decay 3’s development.
The news out of Undead Labs is unfortunately all too familiar for the video game industry, which has seen numerous studios, both big and small, have to deal with a similar reckoning in recent years. We’ll be sure to update this story with any potential new information.