4A Faced Power Outages, Below-Freezing Temperatures & More
Ex-THQ boss Jason Rubin claims that 4A Games created Metro: Last Light in utterly abysmal working conditions, and on a shoestring budget to boot. It's possible that the freezing, cramped and dank Kiev studio actually provided inspiration for Metro 2033's bleaker moments...
Rubin took to GamesIndustry to discuss 4A's triumph over a fairly shocking amount of diversity. He suggests that 4A prided themselves on a "level playing field" despite being handed a tiny budget (10% of the enormous war chests typically handed to Ubisoft Montreal and others), and working in what basically amounts to a factory farm.
"The entire 4A studio would fit easily in the (underutilized) gym at EA Los Angeles' offices," Rubin writes. "4A's staff sat on folding wedding chairs, literally elbow to elbow at card tables in what looks more like a packed grade school cafeteria than a development studio."
Rubin alleges that 4A Games had to smuggle dev kits into the studio, and suffered from power outages and freezing conditions as a normal part of their working schedule.
"Power outages are the norm for 4A. All developers have deadlines, but I know of few that had to bring in construction generators to be able to work the weekend before final submission because an extra day meant missing shelf dates by weeks."
"Montreal is cold, but when it gets cold in Kiev it's different," Rubin continues. "That's because the government provides all of the heating through a central coal burning facility that pipes hot water to homes and offices. Unfortunately, it breaks down reliably a few times a year for a week at a time. Then 4A works in their parkas and struggles to keep their fingers warm in temperatures well below freezing. That is unless it snows and they get stuck home for a few days at a time because snow clearing isn't up to Western standards."
We've yet to review Metro: Last Light, but will endeavour to do so soon. Sadly, the massive competition for jobs means that there still (to my knowledge) isn't a decent union for game developers.