ori and the blind forest

The ugly stain of workplace abuse has reached Moon Studios, the creators of the Ori series. More and more instances of toxic work culture have been reported over the last couple of years, especially after the incidents detailed at Activision Blizzard late last year. 

These reports triggered an outcry from developers from all corners of the industry, in studios big and small. The latest development in this cycle comes from Moon Studios, a developing studio known for its creation of the Ori series. Some people may recall the series for being one of the best Xbox console exclusives in the last few years, but this partnership will no longer continue, reports say. 

The developers have reportedly burned all bridges from Microsoft and will not be partnering to publish any new games. Various news outlets have reported that the founders of Moon Studios chose not to attempt to repair the bridges they’d built with Microsoft over the years, but to instead lash out at Xbox’s teams. The fallout that followed these personal attacks and bullying was what caused Xbox’s decision to not work with Moon Studios on any further projects. 

This could be a major blow to Moon Studios, as with the Ori series made day one Game Pass releases, there will be a major hit in engagement as the recently released figures by Microsoft claim that day one release Indie games hit a 15x increase in engagement on Game Pass. 

This isn’t the only case of bullying happening within Moon Studios however, as reports from Kotaku detail that developers were personally insulted by the leading owners of Moon repeatedly. Moon was known as a place where devs could speak their minds freely, but this was allegedly used to make developers feel uncomfortable as the founders used inappropriate language in a public setting. Current developers, as well as former developers, reportedly said that Moon Studios was an “oppressive” place to work where unacceptable behaviours were commonly experienced. Casual sexism and racism were allowed as part of this open speech environment, leading to the accusations by developers that the founders had created a toxic work environment where derogatory remarks were commonplace. 

Microsoft reportedly weren’t previously aware of the toxic work culture occurring at Moon, and once they became aware decided not to publish their next title, and of course this wasn’t helped by the angry, bullying messages they received after. 

This comes at a time for Microsoft where they recently purchased Activision Blizzard for a record $68.7 billion, who are currently the subject of several lawsuits by both the state of California and former developers. The current CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, was exposed for creating a workplace rampant with sexual misconduct and forced crunch. There are rumours that Xbox Boss Phil Spencer will be seeking to immediately remove Kotick from the company, but this won’t be known until May 2023 at the earliest when the deal is finalised. 

Sony is also subject to claims of abuse in their development teams, as more and more developers are voicing their experiences in what seems to be an epidemic of poor work culture, abusive staff treatment and shaky management.

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