Ken Levine accused of berating employees, mismanagement

Ghost Story Games employees say the studio president burns people out, repeatedly throws out weeks or months of work

A Bloomberg report on Ghost Story Games and its long-in-development debut project lays blame at the feet of studio president and creative director Ken Levine.

The outlet spoke with 15 current or former Ghost Story Games employees, some of whom said Levine's management had led to burnout and demoralized team members as the studio's debut game has been rebooted and shifted direction several times.

Levine was said to single out individuals and berate them in front of co-workers and constantly change his vision for the game partway through development, requiring the team to throw out weeks or months of work. As an example, employees said that after playing Dead Cells and Void Bastards, Levine insisted Ghost Story's project be changed to incorporate features from those titles.

The story quotes Mike Snight, a founding member of Ghost Story Games who left after five years with the studio, as calling Levine "a very hard person to work for," saying the creative director tried to change but never fixed problems with his creative process.

"When it continuously goes in cycles and you don't align anymore, you kind of get tired of being part of that," Snight said. "I wasn't really happy anymore."

Ghost Story Games' first title has been in the works for more than seven years, and one employee told Bloomberg it was finally on track, but even then estimated a release to be two years away.

A representative with Ghost Story parent company Take-Two Interactive declined to comment on the Bloomberg report.

Ghost Story was founded in 2014 after Levine shut down Irrational Games, laying off all but about 15 members of the Irrational team in the process.

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Latest comments (1)

Murray Lorden Game Designer & Developer, MUZBOZ4 months ago
Keen to see what the team creates.

For me, in this case, there's really not much more to it than that! :)

Sometimes these exposes from places like Bloomberg feel more like nosey neighbours gossiping about the fight they heard happening over a neighbour's fence last night.

No one is perfect. Making games is hard. Being a leader is hard. Everyone can improve.

But we don't all necessarily need to air dirty laundry in public, if that dirty laundry is just the dirty laundry you'd expect from any common organism, whether that be a game company, or a personal relationship, or whatever other imperfect interactions we have in this big ol' world of ours. :)
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