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Metro: Last Light developer 'never playing on a level field'

Former THQ president Jason Rubin wrote a letter describing harsh working conditions for Ukraine-based studio 4A, makers of Metro: Last Light.

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Metro: Last Light developer 4A Games has worked in substandard industry conditions, according to former THQ president Jason Rubin. The executive laid out a fairly harsh picture of working conditions in the Ukraine, only to be met by some good-natured acknowledgement from the studio's creative director.

A letter on GI.biz criticizes THQ for the small development budget and cramped working conditions at 4A. He says that 4A was "never playing on a level field," and that the budget of Last Light was 10% of its largest competitors. Despite that, he says, it has gotten accolades for its story, atmosphere, and proprietary engine. He further notes that 4A's working conditions were cramped, consisting of a small studio space with its workers sitting elbow-to-elbow at card tables with folding chairs. Worse yet, he said power outages were "the norm" for 4A, and that on the whole it "looks more like a packed grade school cafeteria than a development studio."

Rubin says he's not trying to create a handicap, and he doesn't want his letter to change the way the game is received. But he does want to call attention to the accomplishment. "If 4A had been given a more competitive budget, in a saner environment, hadn't wasted a year-plus chasing the irrational requirement of THQ's original producers to fit multiplayer and co-op into the same deadline and budget(!), hadn't had to deal with the transition to a new publisher in the crucial few months before final, what could 4A have created?"

In the comments, 4A creative director Andrew Prokhorov thanked Rubin for his letter, and acknowledged some of his statements. "It is a fact that our work conditions are worse than those of other developers outside Ukraine," he said. "I don't think anyone can doubt that--yes, it's true that American and most of European developers operate in a country far more comfortable than Ukraine. And yes, the publishers pay them more. This is clear: the more 'reasonable' the country the less the risks. And we don't want to be all dramatic about that--after all, better conditions are earned, and we strive to do this as soon as possible."

Editor-In-Chief

From The Chatty

  • reply
    May 16, 2013 1:00 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Metro: Last Light developer 'never playing on a level field'.

    Former THQ president Jason Rubin wrote a letter describing harsh working conditions for Ukraine-based studio 4A, makers of Metro: Last Light.

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      May 16, 2013 1:30 PM

      If they have another story worth telling in their universe then someone should fund them properly. But I'm not interested in multiplayer, although co-op could be interesting.

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        May 16, 2013 10:30 PM

        Some highly involved two-player would really kick ass.

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      May 16, 2013 1:42 PM

      Wonder if Kickstarter could change some of this? But, maybe because the studio isn't based in the US this can't happen. At least not soon.

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      May 16, 2013 3:47 PM

      4A makes do with what little they have.

      Gotta wonder what kind of conditions the original STALKER team worked under from which 4A splintered from.

      Good job guys. Last Light is definitely top 3 this year.

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      May 16, 2013 4:07 PM

      These guys have done some incredible stuff especially considering that. Some of the best games are coming from Eastern Europe / Russia.

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      May 17, 2013 6:09 AM

      Well, fuck. I'm glad I bought this day one even though I won't have time to play it for a while.

      Love the Metro series. :D