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Tantalus: Industry can't promise job security

CEO says studios need to be more honest about "volatile" world of games

Tantalus CEO Tom Crago has spoken out about the lack of job security in video games development, and the need to be more honest about it.

"Fundamentally, and I realise this is a little controversial, I came to the conclusion that in an industry as volatile as video games, it's impossible to put your hand on your heart and say to any of your developers that their job is going to be secure for the next five or 10 years," he told Gamasutra.

"I feel like anyone who does that is kidding themselves, and so I determined to be much more transparent about our business, both in terms of its challenges and its successes."

Tantalus is currently working on Mass Effect 3 for the Wii U via its Straight Right label, and in the past has worked on MX vs. ATV Reflex and Megamind for handhelds.

Crago also discussed Tantalus' experience of that volatile industry, which included a sudden drop from profitability to loss, and subsequent lay-offs.

"I felt a huge sense of responsibility to the people working for me, and then you have pride and ego playing their part in the process as well. And like a lot of studios we held on for far too long. I'm happy that our guys were able to stay employed for longer as a result, but ultimately you don't do anyone any favours by pretending the world hasn't changed."

Tantalus was founded in 1994 in Melbourne.

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Latest comments (5)

Well said Tom, I think thats pretty much spot on. Unless the studio manages to "get lucky", and do a Firemint (and develop some internally owned IPs which bring in large amounts of revenue regularly).
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
Even more true just now with a revolution underway.
Hence the benefit of working in a cluster where there lots of revolving doors.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D4 years ago
The job security in video games is shocking - there is none, really. It's just the nature of the beast, which is a shame - but I suppose job security in most industries is non-existent these days.
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Ben Gonshaw Game Design Consultant, AKQA4 years ago
It's great that Tom feels strongly enough to be utterly transparent with his staff about this, but surely only relative newcomers need the education.
The industry has never been a stable employer, with constant cycles of new start-ups leading into closures and consolidation, followed by a short breather then rinse and repeat. The only fresh thing this time around is that there's more underlying causes than just the console life-cycle and generation transitioning of old.
The increased need for companies to be flexible has led to FTC and even daily rated freelancers becoming more prevalent.
Other industries thrive with resourcing models like this - and not just the companies - freelancers can make a decent enough premium to survive the vacillations of the industry.
You can have a job for life as a game developer - but definitely not a company for life.
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Meelad Sadat [a]list daily editorial director, Ayzenberg Group4 years ago
if this was 50 years ago game development would form guilds or unions and we'd be using the US film industry model of setting up shop around productions. but i said unions and game development, so you may have just sensed the cries of tens of game publishing heads who cried out together in terror.
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