After delivering one of the finest titles to release so far this year, Team Bondi has been awash in a sea of bad publicity. Allegations that the studio was mismanaged under Brendan McNamara’s leadership and that employees were subjected to a “24/7 corpse grinder” have been making the rounds. Things are getting worse before they get better, apparently, because Rockstar has decided not to publish any upcoming games from the Australian studio.
This may come off as sounding like a bit of a surprise seeing as Rockstar had recently stated that L.A. Noire was a strong IP that they planned to add to their stable of franchises. Not to mention that the game, while not quite reaching Red Dead Redemption’s stratospheric success levels, has moved a huge number of copies since its Spring release. But some e-mails from top Bondi staffers indicate that the Noire staff aren’t the only ones put off by how the game’s development progressed.
“I’ve heard a lot about Rockstar’s disdain for Team Bondi, and it has been made quite clear that they will not publish Team Bondi’s next game,” explained one former team member. This is in stark contrast to Rockstar’s earlier designs on possibly turning Bondi into “Rockstar Sydney.” The anonymous ex-employee went on to say that he believes it was only Rockstar’s guiding hand that saved L.A. Noire from the dire straits it was once in.
Team Bondi are trying to find another publisher for their next title, but the relationship with Rockstar has been badly damaged – Brendan treats L.A. Noire like a success due to his vision but I think Rockstar are the ones who saved the project. They continued to sink money into LA Noire, and their marketing was fantastic. Without their continued support, Team Bondi would have gone under several years ago.
Remember that Sony was once publishing the game as a PS3 exclusive targeting a 2009 release. Word is the publisher got tired of dumping funds into a project that it perceived to be in disarray so they cut Bondi loose. That’s when Rockstar stepped in as the new publisher and eventually brought the game to both 360 and PS3 in May. In addition to funneling cash into the game’s marketing, the tipster said that “Rockstar also made a huge contribution to the development; their producers were increasingly influential over the last two years of the game’s development, and overruled many of the insane decisions made by Team Bondi management.”
“At a lower level, Rockstar also pitched in with programmers, animators, artists, QA, etc. Part of the conflict between Team Bondi and Rockstar was due to Rockstar’s frustration with Team Bondi’s direction, and eventually Team Bondi’s management in turn resented Rockstar for taking lots of creative control.” This all came to a head when Rockstar altered the L.A. Noire logo to exclude Team Bondi’s corporate logo. McNamara, didn’t take that so well.
“Every dog has its day and there’s going to be hell to pay for this one,” wrote McNamara in an email intended to be sent out to a single staff member but accidentally sent to all of them. “I’ll never forget being treated like an absolute **** by these people.” Strong words, to be sure. But, love him for his game or hate him for how he treated his people, can you really blame the guy for being upset over that? I n any case, the Rockstar-Bondi, er, bond has likely been shattered beyond repair.
[Source: Games Industry Biz]
[Image via Gaming Angels.]