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Splash Damage: UK devs suffer from "exploitation"

Paul Wedgwood calls for decent pay and work/life balance for British talent

Splash Damage boss Paul Wedgwood has stressed the importance of good pay and working conditions for UK developers.

In a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz, he felt that "If there's one thing we suffer from in the UK, it has been this continuous exploitation of game developer talent until we drive them into the ground and they become cynical and burned out and hate the industry."

He hoped his own studio, currently working on Bethesda-published shooter Brink, was an exception to this. "I think that at Splash Damage we've always believed in paying people more than the industry in general, giving proper benefits and being respectful of work/life balance.

"We suffer from the same challenges that every studio does, we crunch 6 day, 7 day weeks sometimes: it can be really, really challenging. But to be honest with you, when the studio isn't in crunch we still have people working 6 or 7 days a week because they like what they're doing.

"If you're at the office and you're having fun, then you're on the right track whether you're working out of hours or not."

Wedgwood also claimed that his tendency to be a "tyrannical dictator" on Splash Damage's earlier games had subsided.

"I learned much more to trust the talent, the people that had great ideas, let them go and iterate on them, and ultimately their execution was so much more important than that silly idea that I had at the beginning.

"The thing I learned, the one thing I urge any other British developer to do if their bag is the triple-A blockbuster stuff that really gets attention and they want to sell millions of copies and really good review scores and everything else, is to recruit the best talent that they can, and pay them properly."

As such, Splash Damage has recruited the likes of "Richard Hamm who did Fable II, Olivier Leonardi who did Prince of Persia and Rainbox Six: Vegas, Dean Calver who did Heavenly Sword, Tim Appleby who did Mass Effect..."

The full interview with Paul Wedgwood, which also discusses the financial realities of blockbuster development, warnings for VCs investing in developers and the perils of mediocrity, is available here.

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Alec Meer

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A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.

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