Following the announcement that Team17 would launch NFTs for beloved franchise Worms without the permission of developers, employee unrest began stewing at the indie publishing company. The decision served as a catalyst for employees to speak out against Team17 management, with a damning report from Eurogamer detailing severe underpayment of staff and poor working conditions. A week on, management has promised change.
CEO Michael Pattison reportedly addressed Team17 employees in a company-wide meeting on Friday afternoon, where he responded to the Eurogamer report and promised an immediate pay review for Quality Assurance (QA) staff. Their salary was of particular concern in the report, with employees claiming they earned at most £19,000 (AU $36,000), despite years of experience.
Staff speaking to Eurogamer claimed Pattison covered almost ‘every issue’ raised by staff, and even called out fellow management for its implementation of NFTs. According to Pattison, the Worms NFT project was ‘totally outside of the principles and values we have as a company’ – despite the NFTs likely passing through multiple layers of management approval before they were pulled.
Pattison reportedly promised an ‘extensive review’ of how Team17 builds itself and supports employees, and claimed it was time for the company to ‘take a good, long, hard look at itself and what it wants its culture to be’.
There’s hope the company will implement meaningful change going forward, extending to how employees are treated and what benefits they receive.
Given the Eurogamer report claimed staff had only recently been asked to help wrap the personal Christmas presents of Team17 co-founder Debbie Bestwick, in a time when many were denying themselves meals to stay afloat, it’s clear big change is needed.
The first steps will be pay reviews for QA staff and other employees, and a consideration for how bonuses are achieved and paid out. In addition, overworked staff may soon have relief, with Pattison acknowledging there were ‘real problems’ to be solved.
‘We’re struggling,’ he reportedly said. ‘As we grow there is always going to be an increasing need to sign potentially more titles – or refocus and sign higher quality titles with more commercial potential. And that’s my focus. I’m trying to improve that ratio, I don’t want to see us on a continual treadmill of just filling the pipe.’
Going forward, Pattison also hopes to make Team17 a more appealing place to work for new hires, with plans to better ease workloads to suit a new generation of talented employees.
‘We have a responsibility to our shareholders, to our investors to hit targets, but we also have a responsibility to our employees, our development partners and consumers to deliver the best product possible… I’m committed to finding that sweet spot,’ he said.
It appears Pattison is keen to address the major concerns raised by employees via Eurogamer, and that the company is willing to commit to new targets going forward. While Pattison acknowledged that change would be slow to occur, the acknowledgement is an essential part of creating a more viable, comfortable and safe workplace for all employees in future.