Netmarble under scrutiny by government agencies in the wake of a crunch-mode death

You probably remember the sad news about a Netmarble employee who was, essentially, worked straight to death. That’s the bad news. The good news is that when something like that happens, it’s hard to really keep that under the rug for very long. The South Korean Justice Department and the Ministry of Employment and Labor are having discussions about Netmarble in particular and hiding the costs and demands of overtime work in general, which will hopefully lead to some positive changes in the long run.

In the short term, Netmarble is under pressure to settle delayed payments for overtime work as well as address duplicitous hiring practices “tricking” employees into working longer hours while waiving some overtime rights. It remains to be seen what the long-term impact will be on Netmarble’s bottom line, but hopefully this marks an ending to the sort of culture that made a young programmer die.

Source: MMO Culture
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12 Comments on "Netmarble under scrutiny by government agencies in the wake of a crunch-mode death"

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Mewmew
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Mewmew

This happened in a subsidiary company but the head company gets the blame? I guess they feel that the head company should have had some kind of rules in place, and there is some truth to that of course. Though it’s also much bigger news to plain outright blame Netmarble rather than a Netmarble subsidiary.

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Robert Chen

Most of the subsidiaries under Netmarble are 100% owned by Netmarble and are in the same corporate building. They are really just internal studios.

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Armsbend

Why software slaves don’t unionize here is completely beyond me. Although the environment for unions right now is hostile to say the least.

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John Kiser

You’d still run into “crunch times” being a thing. Crunch time is basically devs working longer hours toward launch to get things done that are behind for launch of a game. My problem with the entire thing is they are being blamed for it when the guy basically ended up having a heart attack which unless he was vastly unhealthy or they were driving him to work that many hours straight with no breaks in between I don’t see how you can attribute it directly to netmarble’s own actions. Yeah it is shitty it happened and crunch time sucks, but it is the first time i’ve ever seen someone die during crunchtime especially someone as young as this guy. Seems like he might of had other health issues.

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be rational

Are you in Korea because that’s where the subject of this article died?

Software Engineers (I guess the ones that don’t work in the game industry) have it good and there is little reason to unionize. Maybe just have the game developers unionize so they aren’t being taken advantage of?

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Utakata

I think Armsbend-san posts from Atlanta, Georgia. Not sure why that’s important. If it is then, where are you from?

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be rational

Because they said “Why software slaves don’t unionize here is completely beyond me.” The word “here” made me wonder if they lived in Korea since that is what the subject of the article was about. If they did live in Korea then I would better understand why they thought that developers unionizing would be something to consider. Software “slaves” aren’t that common in the United States (from my own observations and experience). Devs/engineers get treated pretty well in the industries I’m familiar with.

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Loyal Patron
Sashaa

You do realize that “software slaves” are more than just devs and engineers, right? This problem vastly extends to community managers, game masters, etc.

I write from France, and we don’t have an union for employees either, only one for studios, and it’s not because “we have it good”.

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be rational

Yeah, I definitely realize that but the reason I assumed the original poster meant devs and engineers was because in the article this post links to it says “The employee, who was in charge of developing games died of coronary arteriosclerosis last November.” I’m probably in the minority here but I typically read a blog post and then also read the articles they site.

Also, I’m not suggesting that “having it good” would be the only reason not to form a union. I just meant that most people in that field in the US (which is where I hail from) probably don’t feel the need to unionize since they lack the incentive to do so.

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enamel

Software engineers naively believe their organizations are meritocracies, and that unions will introduce mediocrity into software teams. Closely related to the myth of the rockstar / ninja / 10x coder.

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Utakata

“Although the environment for unions right now is hostile to say the least.”

…more the reason why they should unionize, IMO.

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Melissa McDonald

it’s pretty simple, establish limits for hours-per-week and hold companies accountable to it. Crunch Time will therefore have to be something management ‘manages’, and this is right, and just.

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