Elden Ring is one of the biggest video game success stories of 2022, but now its developer, FromSoftware, is making headlines due to rumors of a slump and low salaries at its development studio.
FromSoftware’s latest title won critically acclaimedand its quality was also reflected in sales charts. The game has burst into the mainstream in a big way, having one of biggest youtube game launches ever.
Unfortunately, like so many wildly successful AAA video game titles, it didn’t take long for conversations about crunch, long overtime, and low pay to surround developer FromSoftware.
The speech began in March, shortly after Elden Ring was released. First spotted by The playerIt turns out that a handful of FromSoftware employees were turning to a Japanese job site called Career Connection to discuss poor working conditions and low pay.
For context, Career Connection is basically a Japanese version of Glassdoor, where current or former employees can leave reviews about their employer to inform potential future applicants about working conditions at a company.
FromSoftware reviews left on Career Connection range from 2012 to 2019, with FromSoftware’s employee satisfaction rating being 2.6 stars out of 5. Employee reviews cite low pay for workload, 40 months of hours extra per month, no maternity leave, etc.
Now, months after people started noticing the poor condition reviews at FromSoftware, GamesIndustry.biz revealed more stories from FromSoftware employees about what it’s like to work at developer Elden Ring. According to the report, multiple sources said there was actually “some level of crunch” at FromSoftware.
Elden Ring Classes
The extent of the crisis at the studio seems to vary from department to department. One of the GamesIndustry.biz sources said that they barely had to work overtime.
Another said: “During critical periods of game releases, I often had to work early mornings and work overtime for two to three months.”
A source said overtime wages were only half their usual hourly rate, which differs from most Japanese companies where hourly wages typically increase at the end of the day.
FromSoftware employees also spoke about the low salaries at the studio. A source said their “salary is not adequate” and added that their colleagues felt the same way. According to data from Career Connection, the average annual income of a FromSoftware employee is 3.41 million yen, or just under $25,000.
It should be noted that the yen is currently very weak against the dollar, so the direct conversion from yen to USD may not be fully representative of employee compensation. However, FromSoftware operates in Tokyo, where the cost of living is higher than most other places in Japan.
Even with some negative reviews, other FromSoftware employees said working at the studio was a great experience. One employee even compared it to FromSoftware’s Dark Souls, saying, “There’s a lot of struggle to get it right, but if you get over the hump, it’s very satisfying. It’s like you’ve conquered a boss in Dark Souls.”
Elden Ring publisher Bandai Namco has announced a pay rise for all of its employees following the success of Elden Ring, so we’ll have to see if FromSoftware follows suit by raising the salaries of the developers behind the game.
Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN covering video game and entertainment news. He has over six years of gaming industry experience with signings at IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine, and Lifewire. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.