Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Would you like a bonus with your bonus?

While working on a rather large persistent world game as QA, one of the high-ups announced that the studio would be receiving a bonus for all expansions/dlcs/re-ups and the like in an all-hands team meeting, past ones being grandfathered in even. Every head in the studio that wasn’t in sick was there. Much to our surprise they also announced that contract members would also get the bonus, and it was a % of annual salary. There was much rejoicing!

For those of you who don’t know, QA isn’t paid very well but makes it up with OT and a loss of social life, and life in general. On average a lowly QA person might make 20k a year if s/he has experience and has been with a company for a while. Most devs, contract excepted, make on average 50k+. The bonus would be a few hundred bucks for QA and upwards of 3k for everyone else. This is just to put it into perspective.

So we all go back to our desks full of glee about the joyous occasion of a studio being nice to QA! But nary a quarter of an hour had passed before the same studio head mustered all of us again for another quick announcement. Lo and behold, the entire studio was gathered just to be told that QA would not be getting the bonus, and sorry for the confusion for all.

They all smiled. They went on their business like nothing was wrong. A few even made rather negative comments towards QA. All of us were fuming, seething pissed off. Our lead was frothing. A few weeks went by and we forgot, because we are used to it after all.

The studio head announced another meeting. In it they announced that because we had done so well in the past few weeks, they doubled the bonus. Now me being of a military background I am rather fond of unabashed, brazen action. So I walked out without word. Out of the meeting and out of the building while dropping my FOB card in the meeting room. Almost all of QA, including our leads followed suit. The ones that didn’t were unceremoniously fired because the studio head came to the conclusion that QA wasn’t needed as a department.

The game went on and released an online expansion we red-lighted several times. The problems that created were so bad that no amount of rollbacks fixed the issue. Within a month the game was taken offline and the studio closed.  I found out later that the studio revoked all of the bonuses to avoid bankruptcy.