Ori and the Blind Forest, as well as Ori and the Will of the Wisps are two of the most beautiful, applauded games in recent memory. Unfortunately, a new report states that the situation behind the scenes at developer Moon Studios is about as far from beautiful as possible.
In an investigative report by GamesBeat, former and current employees of Moon Studios were contacted in order to get a picture of the studio’s work environment. The result was a slew of comments that painted the studio as racist, sexist, and overall, oppressive.
One developer shared the following sentiment about his time with Moon Studios.
“We really created something special, and I know the only way I was able to reconcile it was I was able to watch people on Twitch and watch other people get moved by it, and that was actually part of my healing process. Because maybe my suffering was worth it because other people felt something. In the end, I mean, so many of us were burned out.”
The more employees interviewed, the worse the situation behind-the-scenes seemed. Various Moon Studios staff, both currently employed and former, labeled the work environment as abusive and unprofessional. Anti-Semitic comments were posted openly on work chats, and ‘jokes’ about genitalia were handled in the same way.
Moon Studios was contacted about these allegations, and provided GamesBeat with a lengthy statement in response. You can see that statement below.
“We don’t believe the experiences suggested by your questions are representative of the more than 80 Moon Studios team members who are thriving and doing great work every day — nor do we believe they are representative of the experiences of former members of our team. In fact, we are very proud of our history of making people happy, advancing their careers, and contributing to their financial success.
We built Moon Studios with a simple premise. First, we wanted to create a distributed studio that is not limited by geographic boundaries enabling us to draw the top talent from around the world. Second, we wanted to foster a vibrant culture where our team thrives and delivers the very best work in our industry. And finally, from day one we set out to share the profits and rewards of our efforts with the full team. We believe we have succeeded.
What makes our team so powerful is our global and cultural diversity — we have team members working from more than 40 different countries across four continents — and a flat studio structure that allows everyone to speak honestly and directly and to challenge and push each other to do our very best work. We purposely set out to create a different kind of studio — one that encourages creativity, open communication, collaboration, and performance.
The result has been two award-winning games — with more on the horizon — and a team of professionals who enjoy working together, are excelling and breaking new ground in our industry, while also sharing in the financial success of Moon Studios. If at times we are brutally direct in our critiques and challenges, we are also genuine and vocal in our praise. We are incredibly proud of everything we have built and achieved together.
Finally, we appreciate the irony that we — an Austrian and an Israeli Jew — started this multicultural enterprise. We view each other as brothers. And, like brothers, we sometimes argue and frequently tease each other. We have made jokes at our own expense about the differences in our backgrounds — and there may have been times that our teasing of each other has come off as insensitive and may have made others feel uncomfortable.
Moon Studios has prospered for 12 years. We have grown and learned so much over all of these years. We have been privileged to work with many, many great, and extremely talented people. We are truly grateful and proud of our team — those who are here today as well as those who spent time at Moon and have since moved to other ventures – and we are happy to have made a positive difference in their lives. We are not perfect but we deeply care about our talent and are constantly working hard to improve. If we have ever made anyone feel uncomfortable or let anyone down — we regret that and we will always strive to do better.”
What you’ve read is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s much more to dig into with Moon Studios and its work culture and environment. Make sure to visit GamesBeat for the entire piece.