Quantic Lab – A QA company with a toxic work culture
A while ago, I covered the story of a Quantic Lab statement regarding an exposure made by Upper Echelon Gaming. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the channel’s creator to uncover some of the hidden truths behind Quantic Lab’s practices that have been carefully swept under the rug by dubious NDAs.
Let’s take the gloves off right away. The sources described Quantic Lab, a quality assurance studio owned by Embracer Group, as a workplace that fostered an extremely toxic environment for its workers. The actions taken by this company could be downright illegal. The testimonials I have seen so far confirm the existence of an organizational culture rooted in disrespect for many hard-working employees.
Let’s start with a reality check. Despite their efforts to deny things, Quantic Lab turned out to be a company with very poor management and low salaries. This studio is a revolving door of talent since 5 to 10 new people are trained for each new project, team leaders included.
Sure, Quantic Lab has a big portfolio of work, and some of that includes games like Destroy All Humans!, Wreckfest, and CD Projekt RED games like The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077. But that’s not to say big- thing when inexperienced people are downright in charge of the projects themselves.
About the Wreckfest, Quantic allegedly lied to the client about the number of employees who worked there. Many teams were undersized and understaffed for major contracts and partners. In the case of the aforementioned game, Quantic essentially outsourced its workload (yes, one outsourcing company outsourced even more) to India.
One of the testimonials also pointed out that the company fired several employees because they asked for a raise. Moreover, it should be noted that these people were also paid on average between €350 and €650 per month to work in big titles with a lot of pressure and tight deadlines. Of course, if you said how much you earned, Quantic Lab would fire you.
A company like this would definitely need to keep this information secret to ensure they could pay workers as little as possible. Some might argue that Romanian law supports this type of salary secrecy. However, kicking out employees if they mention their own salary still crosses a very substantial line.
And in case you were wondering, they knew what a disaster Cyberpunk 2077 would be before the game even launched. It’s not like that means much these days, but it should still tell how the game was in a bad state. In fact, speaking of Cyberpunk 2077. One of the UE sources who worked at Quantic Lab told us that when negotiating his contract with said they had more employees than they had actually had.
The insight doesn’t stop there; they also said the company didn’t even have the right equipment. Have you ever wondered why these console ports for the last generation were so bad? Well, that was because the staff at Quantic only worked with Pro consoles. No base or slim models. They worked in a nearby building and had to share consoles with CDPR for testing.
That doesn’t mean much to a company like Quantic Lab because although their job description is quality assurance, they don’t do much to help. You see, due to the aforementioned organizational issues that involve seeing employees come and go constantly, Quantic Lab would also be nervous when dealing with difficult issues. According to one of the testimonials, Quantic would rather work with minor bugs such as visual issues. If something more complex like a crash happened, it would be very frowned upon internally.
I can see why that would be the case, of course. Quantic Lab management would rather brag about how many bugs they fixed than how complex the bugs they fixed were. Predictably, this fostered an atmosphere of ambivalence where the only thing that mattered was pushing the numbers up.
And if you think it’s all done on a level playing field, think again. Apart from the hilarious salaries that Quantic Lab employees had to deal with, they were also given projects that required a lot of rigor. One was an MMO game that required 30 team members to work 16-hour shifts in a room that wouldn’t even fit everyone. As previously stated, this work would also be taken over by new, inexperienced employees.
Senior employees are also not kept long. Quantic has a history of pressuring veterans to leave the company without explicitly firing them. In fact, a large number of those fired from Quantic Lab were kicked out of the company with improper procedures, the sources say. This was made easier by the fact that they were new workers and had no experience with workplace protections.
In one of the cases I was told about, an employee was kicked out so they could get a cheaper new hire. In addition, another employee was illegally dismissed by forcing him to sign a document that circumvents the Romanian law on “motivated dismissal”. Testimonials bluntly claimed that Quantic Lab would play the dirty game to fire employees outside of a legitimate business, going so far as to kick out employees who didn’t even get their belongings back.
There is an additional nugget of information for the curious. A Romanian newsletter that exposes this type of malpractice known as the Hacking Working Podcast wrote a huge article that includes some of the most impactful testimonies against Quantic Lab. Some revealed that surveillance cameras are installed in the offices of the company to monitor each employee. Some locations even have fingerprint readers, which are used to identify employees online while verifying their presence on work platforms.
Overall, the workplace culture at Quantic Lab painted by these sources is problematic, to say the least. This entire article was the product of over two dozen interviews originally led by Upper Echelon Gaming. This was all done to expose the terrible practices of Quantic Lab which placed employees in an isolated environment to be thoroughly beaten.
Usually the parting thoughts would be something along the lines of “Let’s hope this leads to a better future for the industry” but unfortunately this problem within Quantic Lab is far from an isolated case. This, in fact, exposes a widespread problem within the industry that has been largely ignored and goes beyond a few buggy games. I will address this issue in a later post, but just know that Quantic is just a symptom of a major disease within the industry.