Report Describes 'Toxic, Oppressive' Work Culture At Ori Studio

Oh boy, here we go. You may have seen over the weekend that a report from GamesBeat described Ori developer Moon Studios as fostering an "oppressive" workplace, and that report has been getting a lot of attention ever since.

It's a very lengthy article, but to sum it up, interviews with current and former employees reportedly revealed that many of them had issues with founders Thomas Mahler and Gennadiy Korol, including "casual racism, sexism, and bullying". Here's a bit of what the summary of the report had to say:

"Moon developers told GamesBeat that they found the studio’s culture oppressive. They alleged that the leaders used calls for an open and honest workplace as a pretense for abuse. The founders criticized the work of employees in public chats and were stingy with praise. So far no one is suing or claiming unlawful behavior, but many workers are fed up with what they see as inappropriate behavior by the founders."

There's a lot more detail to the report than this, so we recommend giving it a good read for yourself, but in regards to Microsoft specifically, it's stated that the company "had a difficult relationship with Moon Studios over the years", often due to "funding amounts and delays, as the project scopes kept changing and Moon missed deadlines."

Furthermore, GamesBeat's Jeff Grubb stated the the following in a video over on YouTube:

"Microsoft is well aware of what this company is like. And when they got done with Ori 2, there is a reason that Private Division is publishing [Moon Studios'] next game and not Microsoft. I was told this exclusively this morning, that Microsoft was aware, and everyone understood that's what this company was like..."

In response to the report, Thomas Mahler and Gennadiy Korol issued a lengthy statement, explaining as part of it that they "don’t believe the experiences suggested by [GamesBeat's] questions are representative of the more than 80 Moon Studios team members who are thriving and doing great work every day — nor do we believe they are representative of the experiences of former members of our team."

In terms of what's next for Moon Studios, the developer is working on "an RPG that dares to innovate and go far beyond what the genre has offered players thus far", and as previously mentioned, it's being published by Private Division rather than Xbox. Mahler himself suggested recently that the reason for this is because the studio wants "everyone to be able to play together, across all systems, where Moon owns the platform and the IP and we can steer it into the best direction", but very few details have been revealed about the project so far.

As this is a sensitive topic, please remain respectful when discussing it in the comments below.

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