Video Game Developers Share Their Horror Stories

Why does this have to be so difficult?

Gaming is a billion dollar industry. The gaming community spans far and wide and includes all ages, sexes, religions and professions. It looks like it's all fun and games but nothing created is ever built easy. The behind the scenes of the gaming industry is just as full of drama as any other.

Redditor u/BackgroundCharacters wanted to hear from the playful tech crew by asking.... Game developers of Reddit, what are your horror stories?

52 Pick-up.


I was involved in developing and designing a card game. Everything was going well. Finished the system for how gameplay would function and set the card layouts. The intellectual property holders were a couple that did most of the art based on their graphic novel. The IP holders break up half way through completion. We had already hired on a third artist to do filler but the workload doubled for them as the original two would not commit to anything anymore. Almost didn't get a final print run or release due to their relationship problems. Agarlis

Without the Neon. 

"as you can see from these statistics and this player data, pushing this change would be disastrous."

"well, i'm not convinced."

"...excuse me?"

i'm here holding a stack of numbers and projections and his only argument is that he didn't want to agree. no counter argument, just nothing, like talking to a wall. college never prepared me to deal with stubborn old men in high management positions.

thankfully I didn't need to prepare my neon "I TOLD YOU SO" sign cause i got some other people to back me up, but boy did that suck. Astarath

It's a Turd. 

Worked on a karaoke game. We had a cool gimmick where you'd be able to apply some filters to playback. Give yourself chipmunk voice or whatever. Easy to do. The FMOD library has a bunch of these built in.

Management decided to drop that feature and use it as a pitch for another company. Instead we put an "enhance" option. This was meant to improve the sound. The real problem here was that this was poorly defined. They just wanted it to sound richer without any really indication of what that meant. We spent weeks bouncing it from the audio guy to developer, to management for management to say "not good enough" and bounce it back. They just didn't get that you can't polish a turd. squigs

Talk to Me. 

Was working on a game in college, and we had a producer who made all the decisions (stupid class idea BTW) and our producing came in and said "I want dialogue in the game, and if its not you fail." Then proceeds to hand us 11 pages of dialogue 2 DAYS BEFORE IT WAS DUE. The fear of failing a class cause some a**hole spent 10 weeks writing dialogue and never told us was terrifying. Was the dialogue done and in game, yes. I made sure to never take a class with that kid again. Almost changed majors because of this. deltathe6661

The Grey Area.


G2A or the Grey Market. Enough said in short.

In long: Your game leaking onto the grey market via any means (yourself being careless, a security issue or, a publisher acting without consent, for examples) will kill any revenue. Forever. My first commercial game had that happen. Worked 15 years on it, earned less than $2000 with it, after it went onto the grey market for some pennies instead of the steam price. vektorDex

So Much Time.

Didn't happen to me, but a coworker at his last gig.

They HAD to work 18 hour days for like 3 months or be fired. This was a big AAA studio. They did get overtime pay and the company provided free beer but like crap man, I'd rather be fired than work those hours. Asterisk49

A Family Affair. 

My uncle worked for Heavy Iron (The Incredibles, Tak and the Great JuJu Challenge, Spongebob Battle for Bikini Bottom and The Movie) and he quit years ago to form his own retail Friendly Local Gaming Store

Why did he quit? Well it turns out running a family-owned retail store in a volatile market like hobby games is actually less stressful than working in Game Dev. Between the expectations of long hours, salaried employment limiting overtime pay, even chances you'll see no recompense in the form of a bonus if the game sells badly, and the usual IT problems (management has zero grasp of what makes quality and what it takes to make a game and just throws out ideas based on what's popular) the pay-to-stress ratio is insane.

My mom works for Riot, not even on the game dev side of things, and she's expressed similar opinions. It's why I 100% believe every complaint leveled at Rockstar over their dev culture, because every complaint is something I've heard from every family member I have in the industry. blaghart

YouTube Lovers. 

A few years ago someone made a fresh YouTube channel and re-uploaded several videos of my unreleased game claiming to be the developer. They already had quite a few subscribers by the time I found out (a fan alerted me to the channel, they posted it publicly so everyone else saw too). There was a flood of negative comments and reports that followed and it caused him to apologize and remove the videos (not sure if the channel was deleted, can't find anything on it now).

More recently, as in a few weeks ago, some random decided to DM one of my private beta testers on Discord (for another unreleased game) claiming to be working on the game with me. I have and always have worked completely solo. Instead of being for attention this was in an attempt to get access to the beta channel with private download links to the game and leak it. Of course my testers aren't stupid. This is one log he showed me (censored).maskedbyte

The Wasted Year.

Been doing this a LONG time and ALL the absolute worst stories come from earlier in my career. Now I'm corporate AF and sure big companies do some stupid stuff all the time, but the REALLY terrible and stupid stuff is everyone in the 'indie,' 'artistic' or 'student' world.

The absolutely biggest/best was the first studio I started with some friends. 7 of us. Only 1 engineer- who didn't really like programming. And we decided EVERYTHING DEMOCRATICALLY. Omg what a s**t show. We got NOTHING done for a year- despite hours of discussions every week.

Finally we had to fire most of our close friends, found an actual engineer, and then did some crappy- but at least real- contract work. It was super small ball but it was enough to get my first 'real' job. Thankfully we're all cool now, but it was def a rough time for our circle of friends.

It was great experience now though. Whenever I'm reviewing projects/teams my first question is always 'say the producer wants to X and the designer Y- after tons of discussion you can't persuade one another. Who makes the final call?' If that crap isn't crystal clear you know they are a crap show. TheGameIsTheGame_



I'm a hobbyist game dev so I don't really have horror stories about it, but I'd like to recommend two great documentaries about the subject :

- Indie Game: The Movie follows the journey of Indie Game developers, each with their own horror stories.

- Playing Hard follows a bigger production ( The creation of "For Honor") by Ubisoft, it gives an interesting view of the risks of creating a new AAA license. u_so


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