NetherRealm is 'actively' investigating workplace complaints

Mortal Kombat developer NetherRealm Studios has told Variety that it is investigating a recent spate of complaints by former employees and contractors about working conditions at the studio. The allegations came to attention last month when James Longstreet, a former software engineer at NetherRealm, posted a Twitter thread saying that working on Mortal Kombat 9 at the studio "nearly killed" him. 

Beck Hallstedt, a contract concept artist on Injustice 2, responded to Longstreet's tweets with similar allegations of their own, leading others to join in. We ran an in-depth report on the complaints, which also included allegations of sexism, harassment, and a failure of management to address employee concerns, and several other sites did the same. That widespread publicity prompted NetherRealm to respond.

"At NetherRealm Studios, we greatly appreciate and respect all of our employees and prioritize creating a positive work experience. As an equal opportunity employer, we encourage diversity and constantly take steps to reduce crunch time for our employees," it said. "We are actively looking into all allegations, as we take these matters very seriously and are always working to improve our company environment. There are confidential ways for employees to raise any concerns or issues." 

What sort of action will ultimately be taken to change the state of affairs at the studio, if any, remains to be seen. One employee, who said that he and others have been working 60-70 hours a week since January, told Variety that preparations for a Mortal Kombat 11 reveal event in January set work back a month and a half. "Little did our creative director, our publishing team and marketing know that we were already about three months behind on the entire game," the employee said. 

The long hours allegedly persist even though Mortal Kombat 11 has been out for a couple of weeks now, as NetherRealm works on updates to the game. 

As for MK11 itself, it's a very good fighting game and the PC build is pretty solid (unlike the previous effort), but the grind required to unlock in-game content had Fraser "sick of it" in short order. Since release, two patches have already been released to help ease that journey, and two more are already planned. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.