Game Revolution and PlayStation LifeStyle parent company Mandatory ‘fires’ freelancers for chasing late pay

Media company Mandatory, which runs a number of pop culture websites including video game sites Game Revolution and PlayStation LifeStyle, has come under fire for allegedly “firing” freelancers who questioned why their pay had been delayed.

Donna Dickens, who wrote for Mandatory’s film and TV site Coming Soon, asked in the “general” channel on the company’s Slack why her pay was late. Mandatory vice president Anthony Severino stepped in to tell Dickens that “venting on [Slack] isn’t going to help”, and asked them to relay any similar questions via their editor. When Dickens responded with “oh yes it is” Severino then fired them publicly on the Slack channel.

As Dickens goes on to detail in a Twitter thread, staff were anticipating payment on Friday, August 30th. However, “because of the holiday”, staff were told to expect their pay shortly thereafter. On September 3rd, writers were then told that “Corporate is ‘moving offices'” so cheques will go out mid-week, after which finally – on Wednesday, September 4th – staff were then told the “finance office infrastructure” would take a week to get established, so pay would be delayed even further.

Dickens is not alone, either. A screenshot intimates another Mandatory freelancer, Christian Long using the screename “cuneform78”, was also let go for asking for an explanation as to why they had not been paid on time.


Dickens then came forward with a number of further allegations reportedly told in confidence.

“I started at 120 posts/month for $500. Then after 6 months I got $600, and I worked out a deal where I didn’t have a quota but the math was even at $5/post,” alleged one anonymous report, whilst another said: “I was doing written articles for them and they said in order to stay employed with them I had to write 80 articles a month, 500 word minimum, and get paid only $500”. Further reports allege the company of using “content farms in the Philippines”. 

After a number of exchanges via Twitter, Severino first protected his Twitter account, then deleted it entirely. Whilst the Mandatory account has not responded to events, account administrator(s) is/are reportedly blocking detractors, but negative comments about the company’s practices continue to mount up.

Due to all publicly listed emails bouncing, we have been unable to reach out to Mandatory for comment, but Splinter reports that while Severino declined to comment further, he “stressed that the fired workers were contractors rather than employees of the company”.

Game Revolution was founded in 1996 and is self-described as “one of the longest running video game websites on the internet”. According to its staff page, it employs 18 staff, many of which are reportedly freelancers paid in line with the rates detailed above for other Mandatory sites.

PlayStation LifeStyle lists 14 on its staff page, including Severino who founded the site in 2008. After selling the site to Evolve Media in 2010, he was then brought on to “operate” PlayStation LifeStyle and Game Revolution. As yet, there are no public reports of staff from either game site being similarly affected.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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