Sports Story launched with a rather surprising addition: a hidden developer room that contained a narrative about a poorly-managed game studio where management dictated unrealistic expectations, and exerted harsh control over staff. This led many to assume the very real issues with Sports Story – game-breaking bugs, visual glitches – were the result of studio overwork, and poor communication. While developer Sidebar Games never commented on the strange room, it has now seemingly attempted to erase its discovery.
In the patch notes for a new Sports Story update, Sidebar Games confirmed the hidden room had been blocked off, to prevent players from accessing it. That didn’t stop YouTube user tendog, however, who managed to get past the newly-placed barriers and revisit the room.
What they discovered was extremely odd.
While the room remains in place, as first discovered, the dialogue of every character has now been rewritten. There are no longer references to overwork, management demanding new game features, and pressure being placed on staff.
Instead, each character is far more positive about their experiences. The lead developer greets the player by saying, ‘Welcome to Cold Cartridge. Not only are we ahead of schedule on development, we are also setting records in employee happiness. Our staff are all well-rested, well-fed and their self esteem is skyrocketing. I can assure you, things are very much under control here! I promise.’
Other developers share similar sentiments – ‘Everything is working well!’ one says. ‘I’m not seeing any problems whatsoever – the team has done an incredible job with this,’ says another.
The tone of the room has shifted dramatically, with each character now expressing an over-the-top enthusiasm that some may read as parody. That said, the purpose of the room and dialogue tweaks remain vague.
It’s unknown if these changes were made to erase the disgruntled nature of the original text, as another criticism of the game’s studio, or as an attempt to paint a brighter picture of game development.
Whatever the case, the change is certainly strange – particularly given the hidden developer room is now harder to access, and was likely not designed for the majority of players to see. Whether the complaints found in the room reflect the real-life circumstances of development at Sidebar Games is unclear – although they remain a significant concern worth addressing.