The raging debate over working conditions in the development industry has once again reared its head, this time at Kerbal Space Program creator Squad.
Former media director ‘PDtv’ took to 4chan (later posted to Imgur) to vent his frustration with the Mexican studio’s treatment of its staff.
Among his accusations were claims that four members of staff – Anthony Keeton, ‘Captain Skunky’, Rob Nelson and himself – were let go from the company after “building the foundation” of the space exploration simulator.
“After running out of usefulness and competing the brunt of the work we were all fired,” he explained.
PDtv also criticised the developer’s low wages, saying: “$2,400 was my yearly salary working a full time eight hours a day, 40 hours a week job.”
“Welcome to Squad; we pay you like shit, then fire you when your work is finished so we can just take it over and maintain it,” he said bluntly.
Unfair working hours were also on PDtv’s list of grievances, with the ex-employee saying that another developer, ‘Max’, “was sometimes forced to work 16-plus hours a day EVERY day during crunch time while the other developers would get days off and only have to work eight hours a day”.
Following the post, other current and former Squad devs took to various social media sites to add their own perspective.
MechJeb mod creator and prominent community member r4m0n said that he had been contacted by “at least two different people” from Squad who backed up PDtv’s claims.
Squad employees were made to work “long hours, getting longer and merging days together when the opaque deadlines (and the releases have deadlines) get nearer”, he alleged.
“International workers seem to get the short end of the stick on this one, as most local workers on Squad HQ are bound to the usual hours.”
R4m0n also backed up PDtv’s comments regarding low pay.
“We're talking abysmally low wages,” he agreed.
“To be fair to Squad, the Mexican minimum wage is about $100 USD monthly, so they weren't technically paying anyone lower than the minimum wage... But the US and EU based workers were getting paid far too low to keep themselves with just KSP, and Squad demanded at least the 40-hour-plus weeks, and near release time that easily doubled.”
Game and server developer Rob Nelson, named by PDtv as one of those unfairly fired, issued a short statement claiming that his NDA restricted him from commenting on the allegations.
Another supposedly fired dev, Anthony Keeton, also cited an NDA as limiting his ability to confirm the claims, but did offer partial validation of the crunch complaints.
“All studios have crunch time, and issues, and bad decisions and good decisions made, does that make any of it right?” he asked. “No, far from it, in fact.
“The crunch time in particular is always a bad decision, it causes mistakes, and even health problems and Squad are guilty of demanding 12-plus-hour work days out of all of us. That much is true.”