Moon Studios, best known for the platformer Ori and the Blind Forest and the sequel Ori and the Will of the Wisps, has been criticized for its toxic atmosphere and unprofessional behavior by founders Thomas Mahler and Gennadiy Korol. This was told by the publication GamesBeat, interviewing current and former employees.
According to the publication, the founders of the studio wanted to create a friendly atmosphere where everyone could express their opinion without fear of consequences. This approach led to Mahler and the King constantly teasing and insulting subordinates, shouting at each other, disrupting the work process. Those who left the company complain of mental health problems.
Of course, this work is depressing. It is difficult to single out one thing, because individually, all these incidents, if they happen once, sound like little things. But when you see this over the years, you notice how people’s mental health gets worse. I can say that after we finished, I felt worse. I have never been depressed up to this point. I lost my passion for my job because they beat it out of me.— Anonymous developer-Anonymous Developer
Interviewees also mentioned genital jokes, sexist and racist comments. “They discussed the appearance of women. These are the most unfunny people. It’s like a 12-year-old child is joking about your mother, ”shared one of the employees.
Although executives constantly emphasize the quality of games, they often give vague directions and demand changes that put the developers behind schedule. This led to crunches and overtime, for which they might not be paid extra.
Most of the developers interviewed admitted that Mahler and Korol always try to release the highest quality product, but do not understand how to communicate with employees. Founders can even go over experienced developers, calling their previous work “crap.” And sometimes insults reached such an extent that the authors themselves were called “abortion victims.”
Microsoft, which published the first two Moon Studios games, is no longer with the team. The developers do not have a clear answer whether the corporation knew about the atmosphere in the studio. The authors’ new project, Ori, is funded by Take-Two Interactive’s Private Division.