Treyarch says it takes employee wellbeing "very seriously" following damning report into Call of Duty Black Ops 4's development

Treyarch says it takes employee wellbeing "very seriously" following damning report into Call of Duty Black Ops 4's development

It's that time again - Kotaku has published a behind the scenes report about another triple-A game where staff are treated appallingly to make sure a product is shipped.

This time it's Call of Duty Black Ops IIII, with contractors, including quality assurance staff, complaining of being treated like second class citizens. Furthermore, the news at the end of 2018 that new CFO Dennis Durkin was to receive $15m in cash and stock when he was hired didn't do much to raise morale.

By this point, the team had had to work absurdly long hours to finish the Blackout battle royale mode which was only conceived of at the start of 2018.

"Now we have an even shorter amount of time to put in work on a new mode,” said one developer.

“Actual development work on Blackout didn’t start until nine months before launch. That mode came together by the seat of its pants. It’s kind of a miracle that it did.”

In an email that did the rounds at the studio following the publication of the article, studio heads Dan Bunting and Mark Gordon said that employee wellbeing was a top priority.

"Today, Kotaku published a story that explores a number of reported behind-the-scenes issues in Black Ops 4 development. The first and most important statement that we want to make to the team is that, as managers of this studio, we take the well-being of every single individual working here very seriously," they wrote.

"We have a vision for the future of this studio that includes significant improvements to work/life balance, and we plan to achieve that through better project planning, streamlined production processes, and rigorous decision-making timelines. It is also our intention to maintain our commitment to increased transparency.

"Getting there will require time, hard work, and commitment — most of all, it will require open communication. If you ever feel like your needs aren’t being met, please do not hesitate to communicate actively with your manager. No one should ever feel like they don’t have options, can’t talk openly, or that the only choice is to take their concerns to the public. These conversations should always start with an honest dialogue with your department manager, and if that’s not working, feel free to reach out to one of us.

"Game development is a wildly complex art and it requires a diverse set of people and skill sets to do it successfully. It’s important for all of us to foster a studio culture that treats all team members with respect.

"We appreciate the contributions made by all parts of the team in the name of the games we make."

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.