In 2018, game development studio Techland announced it would be developing a sequel to its survival horror hit Dying Light. The game was previously slated to release in the spring of last year, but it would go on to be delayed indefinitely, with no clear release date or launch window yet announced as of January 2020. With the silence surrounding Dying Light 2 for over a year now, a pressing question is what might be causing the game to endure such a troubled development.
A recent report by TheGamer’s editor-in-chief Kirk McKeand gives us some long-awaited answers, detailing the struggling state of the studio’s work environment and shining a light on many issues likely impacting the development of the Dying Light sequel. The report includes snippets from 10 interviews with former and current employees at Techland, all of whom wished to remain anonymous.
The testimonies shared in the report claim that Techland is masked by an “autocratic management, poor planning, and a toxic work culture that trickles down from the top.” The report also claims the company’s management has negatively impacted both the morale and the workflow of its employees, which, in turn, is causing issues in Dying Light 2’s ongoing development.
Many of the problems reportedly stem from high-ranking employees, including CEO Pawel Marchewka. Sources told TheGamer that Marchewka and managers at Techland rejected ideas from the studio’s experts, which causes roadblocks in the game’s development:
“Whenever an expert starts advising things that are not aligned with the board’s agenda, they slowly get isolated from the project and responsibilities,” another source tells me. “That leads to them leaving or eventually getting fired. To make a career at Techland, you have to be subservient.”
At one point, the studio hired industry veteran Marc Albinet, who was previously a game director at Ubisoft, to help restructure the studio’s design process. Yet, the 30-year industry veteran was unsuccessful in trying to get the new workflow proposal approved by upper management, the report says.
In the last two months alone, at least 20 employees have left Techland, according to the report. With the studio's high turnover rate, a source claims Dying Light 2’s narrative has been rewritten “six times or so.” Due to the numerous rewrites, one source told the outlet it has no idea what the final product will look like.
In response to staff retention, Marchewka told TheGamer that “making games is tough and it is normal that sometimes there is a need to change the workplace and look for new challenges. I am very sorry that some of our employees left us and decided to find their way outside the structures of Techland, but I’d always wish them the best.”
The report dives into other flaws at Techland and how its work culture is negatively impacting Dying Light 2. I encourage you to take the time out of your day to read the full report to get the inside look it offers at the struggles of game development.