Rockstar Games will not work with LA Noire developer Team Bondi on any new projects soon, due to protracted development times, a lack of clear vision and mismanagement at a senior level.
That's the latest claim to hit the Australian developer, which has become embroiled in controversy following revelations about poor working practises, oppressive management by studio boss Brendan McNamara and a continuous crunch process over L.A. Noire's seven year development period.
Today, GamesIndustry.biz reveals internal emails from top brass at Team Bondi, highlighting the company's extreme policies to overtime, pay freezes and crunching - as well as co-founder Brendan McNamara's volatile reputation.
"I've heard a lot about Rockstar's disdain for Team Bondi, and it has been made quite clear that they will not publish Team Bondi's next game," said an ex member of staff at the Australian studio.
"Team Bondi are trying to find another publisher for their next title, but the relationship with Rockstar has been badly damaged - Brendan treats L.A. Noire like a success due to his vision but I think Rockstar are the ones who saved the project. They continued to sink money into LA Noire, and their marketing was fantastic. Without their continued support, Team Bondi would have gone under several years ago."
Rockstar used to be very keen on making Team Bondi something like 'Rockstar Sydney' - the more they worked with the management, the more they came to understand that this was a terrible idea
Rockstar stepped in to publish L.A. Noire in 2006, a year after Team Bondi had announced a publishing deal with Sony for a PlayStation 3 exclusive. The game was originally due for release in 2009, but only hit stores in May 2011.
LA Noire has been a hit with critics and sold well at retail, backed by a strong marketing campaign from Rockstar. The game has similarities to the mature-themed Grand Theft Auto titles, and it's claimed that Rockstar stepped in to ensure the title met its notoriously high production standards.
"Rockstar also made a huge contribution to the development; their producers were increasingly influential over the last two years of the game's development, and overruled many of the insane decisions made by Team Bondi management," said the source.
"At a lower level, Rockstar also pitched in with programmers, animators, artists, QA, etc. Part of the conflict between Team Bondi and Rockstar was due to Rockstar's frustration with Team Bondi's direction, and eventually Team Bondi's management in turn resented Rockstar for taking lots of creative control.
"It's also worth pointing out that Rockstar used to be very keen on making Team Bondi something like 'Rockstar Sydney' - the more they worked with Team Bondi management, the more they came to understand that this was a terrible idea."
The resentment towards Rockstar from Team Bondi is highlighted by McNamara's angry reaction to a redesigned LA Noire logo, which allegedly left out Team Bondi branding and which McNamara took as a slight on his company.
"Every dog has its day and there's going to be hell to pay for this one," wrote McNamara in an email intended for one designer but accidently sent to the entire team. "I'll never forget being treated like an absolute **** by these people."
The full, in-depth exposé of Team Bondi's working practices can be read here.