Today, several former and current Team17 employees have anonymously spoken out about issues within the company. In a report by Eurogamer, more than a dozen employees were prompted to express their complaints about the company’s mistreatment following the aftermath of Team17’s initial plan for Worms NFTs.
When Team17 first announced their plan to create Worms NFTs, many of their employees and indie developer partners were unaware of the announcement until it was made public that same day. Also, staff had no say in the decision, as support for the NFT project came from the higher-ups within the company. One employee shared that they were told to keep their opinions regarding the matter to themselves, where the company warned employees that “criticising or embarrassing Team17, its contractual partners, or fellow Teamsters in a public forum could be cause for disciplinary action.”
Former and current staff members also spoke on the poor working conditions at Team17 due to the company’s goal to sign a new game every month. Many employees were overworked as overtime increased due to the company eventually signing too many games. Games were also rushed for release despite having development issues that were reported by the QA and user research team, as company bosses and higher-ups preferred quantity over quality. Additionally, many workers were receiving less pay or no pay at all despite working overtime. Team17 also gradually reduced the amount of money in their bonuses, where some staff struggled to support themselves while Team17’s CEO Debbie Bestwick reportedly earned $10.24m last year.
“There were people who would have to skip meals to save money, people who would have to go into the office during the pandemic to reduce their bills, people who couldn’t afford new clothes, people who got an emergency bill and were in their overdraft,” one staff member shared with Eurogamer.
Bestwick was also criticized for ignoring the alleged sexual harassment happening to women within her company despite being a woman in the video game industry herself. A staff member told Eurogamer that there were “incidents where women at the studio were sent degrading messages and suggestive photos by male colleagues, which were reported to HR. The response, they say, was that these incidents were minimised, perpetrators given a slap on the wrist, and victims told to sort it out amongst themselves.”
Unfortunately, it’s pretty clear with this recent news that Team17 has been the bad guys way before their NFT stunt this year and will continue to have a negative reputation if they don’t improve their company.