Team17 CEO Michael Pattison has told employees that "action has to be taken" following the publication of Eurogamer's detailed report on the company last week.
That report included experiences from more than a dozen Team17 staff past and present, who came forward to share details of pay, working conditions and more.
Pattison subsequently addressed Team17 in a company-wide meeting last Friday afternoon, in which he gave a lengthy response and announced an immediate pay review for staff in the company's QA department.
Details of the 20-minute virtual gathering were passed to Eurogamer by staff eager to see words put into action. (Team17 declined to comment further to Eurogamer for this article.)
The meeting began with a statement from Pattison, who joined Team17 from PlayStation last October to lead the company as its new CEO, before a lengthier dive into almost every issue raised by staff to Eurogamer last week.
Team17's quickly-pulled NFT push received a brief mention - something Pattison branded as "totally outside of the principles and values we have as a company" - alongside detailed talk on pay, bonuses, workloads and company culture. The one topic not covered, and notable by its absence, was of the claims of poor management concerning Team17's long-term owner Debbie Bestwick, who remains at the company in the role of Group CEO.
"I'm committed to taking action, I won't brush over anything that was said or ignore any of the points being made," Pattison said. "It will all be thoroughly investigated, you have my guarantee on that."
Pattison also promised "an extensive review of how we build a business that better supports its employees".
On the company's culture, Pattison said Team17 now had to "take a good, long, hard look at itself and what it wants its culture to be, and how it will build towards that, and protect it".
On pay, Pattison said Team17's aim was to pay people in line with the market rate and that the company had participated in a benchmark study with data from around the industry. However, he acknowledged that benchmarks were always changing, and this would be looked at to inform the company's next annual salary review in April.
In particular, Pattison said he had asked for an immediate pay review for QA - a section of the company which featured heavily in Eurogamer's report, where pay starts around £16k. Said Pattison: "We'll make necessary changes there where we see any deltas - where we're off in terms of competitive pay."
On bonuses, staff were told these have always been discretionary and that lifestyles therefore have to be balanced against this fact. However, Pattison acknowledged he needed "to do a better job of making sure people are aware of what needs to be achieved, what targets are, so we can work as one to deliver against that".
On staff being overloaded with work, Pattison acknowledged he "had seen real problems there", and suggested he wanted to re-jig Team17's output to focus on fewer games with a higher quality bar.
"We're struggling," he admitted. "As we grow there is always going to be an increasing need to sign potentially more titles - or refocus and sign higher quality titles with more commercial potential. And that's my focus. I'm trying to improve that ratio, I don't want to see us on a continual treadmill of just filling the pipe."
Staff had also suffered through "attrition", he continued, as a number of staff departures had led to more work for those who remain. Currently, more than 30 vacancies at the studio are waiting to be filled.
"Whilst I can obviously point to the challenges of Covid, the movement of labour, we also have to ensure Team17 is an attractive place to work for potential new hires but also importantly for existing employees," Pattison said. "This isn't going to be resolved overnight but it does say to me we have open heads... It means we have a short-term problem of matching headcount to workload. We will get there."
On product quality, Pattison said he wanted to build a closer relationship between teams - QA, design, development - to decide the best path for a product. "We have a responsibility to our shareholders, to our investors to hit targets, but we also have a responsibility to our employees, our development partners and consumers to deliver the best product possible... I'm committed to finding that sweet spot."
On the feelings of QA staff feeling downtrodden, Pattison called out improvements on pay and overtime, and said he wanted to ensure the team was respected within the company. Some of these changes were already coming, Pattison said, and he would look at others.
On the issue of sexual harassment, Pattison said the studio had a zero tolerance policy to any cases of this nature, and wanted to improve any difficulties staff faced raising issues with line managers or the company's HR department. "We need to create a safe space where people can bring things to our attention," he said, saying it was something else to work on.
Pattison ended on a cautiously positive note - saying that Team17 would "pull things around", and that Eurogamer's reporting included comments from staff who said they had been proud to work on particular projects or with peers.
Speaking to Eurogamer, staff said they were also cautiously optimistic - even if actions will speak louder than words.
"It has to be a collective effort for us all to get back on track and to get us through these tough months, but I believe we care about the games and we care about the people," Pattison concluded. "I appreciate this is just words, but action will be taken."
Will you support Eurogamer?
We want to make Eurogamer better, and that means better for our readers - not for algorithms. You can help! Become a supporter of Eurogamer and you can view the site completely ad-free, as well as gaining exclusive access to articles, podcasts and conversations that will bring you closer to the team, the stories, and the games we all love. Subscriptions start at £3.99 / $4.99 per month.