The founders of Moon Studios, the developer of the highly regarded Ori Games on the Xbox platform, were lambasted by its employees. Several employees have anonymously said that Thomas Mahler and Gennadiy Korol set up an independent studio that was supposed to be anti-corporate and transparent on the surface, but was allegedly a breeding ground for sexism, bullying and casual racism.
The toxic workplace allegedly behind the scenes at Moon Studios
The long presentation of VentureBeat levels of allegations that Moon Studios is an extremely toxic workplace and reads like a summary of terrible reviews on GlassDoor. In reality, Moon Studios currently has a 2.7/5 rating on Glassdoor, and many complaints echo the sentiments of the piece. The article claims that the main reasons one developer stayed – despite burnout, mental health issues, crunch culture and extremely high turnover – were because it was hard to find jobs. remotely in the industry and because Ori is loved by so many fans.
One of the biggest employee complaints is about the unprofessional and offensive comments Mahler and Korol allegedly make, flooding public workplace discussions with anti-Semitic snipes, sexist comments and jokes about the size of their penises. The two founders were so busy trying to be “anti-woke” and “not politically correct” that any criticism of the behavior of their “male children” was considered too sensitive. For Moon Studios’ new game, several developers said they even had to dissuade Mahler from a rape scene that would set the impetus for a revenge plot.
Several times, the two founders reportedly argued for an hour during a meeting, with one developer saying the team “wasted hours hearing Gennadiy and Thomas screaming like teenagers.” In front of the cameras, however, the developers say they smiled and acted kind.
The founders have also been accused of being overly aggressive in their criticism, publicly shaming and micromanaging the work of their employees. This was especially evident when it came to the art team, where workers described the founder’s comments as “pixel f**king”.
This led many developers to leave. Even after the success of the first Ori title, hardly anyone from that team stayed for the second. A few developers say they were severely burnt out, suffering from PTSD, with one worker saying leaving Moon Studios was “the best decision I’ve made in a long time.”
The two founders gave a full account of the criticisms made of them:
“We don’t think the experiences suggested by your questions are representative of the 80+ members of the Moon Studios team who thrive and do great work every day – nor do we think they’re representative of the experiences of former members of our team…
[W]We appreciate the irony that we – an Austrian and an Israeli Jew – started this multicultural business… We made jokes at our own expense about the differences in our backgrounds – and there may have been times when our teasing with each other came across as insensitive and may have made the others uncomfortable.
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