Crytek, the company behind Far Cry and Crysis, may be in financial trouble...again. They reportedly haven't paid their employees in 6 months, according to a post by a supposed Crytek employee. It was posted in the Legal Advice subreddit on Reddit, a place where people will post to get advice about how to pursue legal matters before they look to hire legal counsel.
According to the frustrated employee, who posted due to lack of other options, this is the longest they've ever been without pay, though it has happened multiple times before. They are unclear whether management is even being paid or informed about the situation, while the rest of the employees have been continuously left in the dark about the current state. They've been repeatedly told that wages will be paid "soon" and that each time issues re-surface that it's the last time payment issues will happen.
The Reddit post mentions the issue affects not just the main German headquarters, but apparently all of Crytek's offices. The Black Sea office is reportedly up for sale and has not paid employees for more than 3 months, according to different sources.
This is far from an isolated incident for Crytek. Back in 2014, Crytek withheld pay to keep the company afloat until they received funds from an unnamed benefactor. The company ended up downsizing from 900 to 700 employees, closing both the UK and US offices and canceling Ryse 2, the sequel to Ryse: Son of Rome. They also sold Homefront to publisher Koch Media/Deep Silver.
CEO Cevat Yerli eventually came forward to discuss it after attempting to remain silent about the matter. Yerli claimed the financial issues stemmed from the transformation of retail games to an online game service, which required investments and resulted in lower capital. Lack of communication has been an issue throughout all instances of missing wages, though Yerli claimed the employees were kept informed.
One has to wonder, if this is happening so often, perhaps their strategy and company management in general should be changed up. Yerli appeared baffled in his interview about why employees would be angry about delayed payments. He also dealt with accusations of company mismanagement back in 2014 and it appears similar issues are still cropping up.
"You have two choices, right? Either you delay payments - again delay... it's not that they didn't get paid, they got delayed - delay payments and salvage the company. Or, you push your cash flow directly to the studios and you file for insolvency."
-Cevat Yerli, CEO of Crytek
If this is all true, Crytek may soon find themselves in a world of hurt, legal-wise. One Reddit commenter says that German law states for payments not received by the date outlined in employee contracts, the employer is put in default (insolvency) and responsible for the full amount plus interest and actual or statutory damages. Another notes that failing to declare insolvency is a felony in Germany and punishable by up to three years in prison.
In Utah, a small game studio, Sensory Sweep, actually found themselves prosecuted for not paying employees. Its owner was eventually sent to jail.
Game companies already don't have a great track record for employees. Sure, there are the great "big ones": Blizzard, Riot, who pay fair wages and benefits. Riot even offers up to $25,000 for any unhappy employee to leave, at any point no matter how new, to keep consistent with their culture. But for those few, elite game companies, there are hundreds more who take advantage of employees.
We've all heard the horror stories about game development and "The Crunch," when game developers go through stressful, non-stop work periods in order to get a game ready for launch. It's so bad Penny Arcade made a spin-off comic, "Tales From The Trenches," that included a new game developer horror story with every comic.
Layoffs are common as well, even when studios aren't in dire financial straits. Tim Shaffer, founder of Double Fine Productions and former LucasArts game developer, lamented the game industry practice of laying employees off after the launch of a game, claiming that game companies are doing themselves a disservice by breaking up a well-functioning team to free up funds to invest in other games. Crytek previously forwent paying employees in order to fund their other ventures, though who knows where the money went this time.
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