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FromSoftware employees open up about the crunch and wages

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FromSoftware employees open up about the crunch and wages
Written by madishthestylebar

Author of one of the greatest successes of this beginning of generation with Elden Ring, great favorite for the title of game of the year in addition to having exceeded 17.5 million copies distributed worldwide as of September 30, FromSoftware does not however, would not be a model of its kind in terms of fair compensation and overtime management.

To begin with, at the risk of not surprising anyone, Hidetaka Miyazaki’s studio does not escape the crunch. While a source is quick to refute some stereotypes about the Japanese propensity for not counting working hours, most employees interviewed concede that overtime work (eight hours a day) is commonplace, although as always this crunch will vary depending on the departments involved (one source reports almost no overtime) and the stage of development at which the game is (the crunch imposes itself more harshly during the last months before the release of a title).

During the critical periods leading up to game releases, I often had to work early mornings and work overtime for two to three months.“said one such employee.”There is a rule that staff should stay no later than 10 p.m., and in 90% of cases staff stay no later than 9 p.m.“, can we also read. And if the overtime is “usually included in salary“, the situation changes in the event of work exceeding midnight, in which case overtime is only paid half the usual hourly rate. A situation which goes against the norm in Japanese companies, where hourly wages are at unlike often increased after midnight.

In fact, one of the main takeaways from these testimonials is that compensation seems to be lagging a bit at FromSoftware, especially given the status the company has achieved and at a time when many vendors like Capcom, Koei Tecmo and Bandai Namco recently announced a general increase in the salaries of their employees, especially beginners.

A source, however, prefers to relativize by noting that FromSoftware “is not a large organization” with its 349 employees, an argument to be debated given that the studio has been owned since 2014 by publishing giant Kadokawa. According to research by Games Industry which relies on data from Career Connection (FromSoftware obviously offered no comment), studio employees can claim an average annual salary of 3.4 million yen (a little less than 24,000 euros), significantly less than the 5.2 million yen (36,000 euros) earned by employees of a company of equivalent size such as Atlus.

Salary Explorer reports that the average monthly salary in game development in Japan ranges from 231,000 yen ($1,613) to 735,000 yen ($5,132). For comparison, the latest vacancies at FromSoftware all start from 220,000 yen ($1,536) per month. Compared to the cost of living in Tokyo, a source deems that the Dark Souls studio salary is not adequate. At Bandai Namco and Koei Tecmo, basic monthly salaries have increased this year to 290,000 yen (2,025 euros).

Despite these reservations, Games Industry notes that several FromSoftware employees testified to a positive feeling about their experience, praising in particular the talent and passion of the team. One of them enjoys comparing his situation to the feeling of accomplishment specific to the studio’s games. “It’s a little tense in a way. You have to fight to get it right, but if you can get through it, it’s very satisfying. It’s like defeating a boss in Dark Souls.

  • Also Read | Sony Interactive Entertainment and Tencent take a good shot in FromSoftware

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