Texan staff working on Star Citizen were apparently expected to continue working even though a snowstorm in February cut off power.
Speaking to Kotaku, employees of Cloud Imperium Games CIG) in Austin were reportedly told by an office manager to figure out how they were going to make up lost work time. If this wasn't possible, then staff were told to take paid time off (PTO) for the hours they were unable to work.
Employees speculate that this poor management is – in part – because a lot of CIG management are based in LA or the UK, meaning that they weren't aware just how bad things were in Texas. One source said that there was a clear breakdown in communication.
“I was affected by all this very strongly,” they said.
“I can’t begin to make excuses for the decisions that were made. All I can really say is that it feels like there was a breakdown in communication, that the severity of the issue was not fully realised by the people that had the power making these decisions...I believe that there were also people in the studio that still had power and didn’t realise that there was such a severe outage. I think it boils down to, there were a lot of communication issues about the severity of the situation.”
CIG boss Chris Roberts has since sent out an email to staff saying that they will be fully paid for this period of work.
In a statement to Kotaku, a spokesperson for the studio said: “CIG is saddened to hear these allegations from the anonymous sources. Our staff’s safety and well-being are a priority to us at all times. The Austin offices have remained closed to general staff since the beginning of the pandemic, with teams working from home. In the immediate aftermath of the Texas storm, studio leadership reached out to all 100+ Austin employees through their managers and individually to offer support; and continues to do so with actionable assistance for all of those who were affected.”
This all had a negative impact on morale at the studio with many already seemingly not feeling great about progress on Star Citizen. One member of staff described the project as: "a game that feels like it’s coming closer and closer to a gacha for expensive ships and no actual gameplay, useless features being constantly shoved in and removed, where marketing holds absolute power over any other department, employees start to feel disheartened after awhile.”