NetherRealm under fire over allegations of horrific crunch conditions

Mortal Kombat 11 developer NetherRealm holds its workers to horrendous crunch conditions, threads on Twitter have alleged.

Beck Hallstedt, a confirmed former contractor on Injustice, took to Twitter to say that, “[NetherRealm] needs to be exposed for predatory and abusive behaviors in the same ways that [Riot, Epic and Telltale] have.” Hallstedt retweeted a Twitter thread by Twitter user @jlongstreet, though it needs to be noted that particular user’s tenure at the developer hasn’t been confirmed as yet. The latter user has been confirmed by PC Gamer as James Longstreet, a software engineer who worked at NetherRealm for two years.

“It’s been 8 years, and they’ve made it clear to me that I’m persona non grata there anyway so… working at NetherRealm on MK9 nearly killed me,” Longstreet wrote. “I didn’t sleep more than 4 hours for months. [F]rom [J]anuary to [A]pril 2011 [I] was at work more than half of the time.”

“[I]n the past 3 years, [I] had gotten a 1% raise and no bonuses,” the allegation continued. “[I]t was made very clear that everyone was required to crunch. NRS doesn’t mince words and say, ‘hey, anyone who’s staying late tonight…’ nope, your manager tells you when crunch is scheduled for.”

The thread goes into great detail describing conditions, with the developer alleging he was only allowed one day off between 1 January and MK9‘s day one patch, and that most workdays started at 10.00 am and concluded at midnight, though NetherRealm bosses would allegedly “leave after dinner.”

“[T]he hardest part was learning that this shouldn’t be a point of pride,” the user wrote.”[I] was proud of the crunching we did, proud of the red bull and coffee and cigarettes and sh*tty pizza and reheated enchiladas.”

Strangely, Longstreet continued to allege that a coworker died at his desk from the crunch involved to publish Injustice 2, but that tweet’s since been removed.

“[I] got some details of what happened during [Injustice 2] wrong, and i apologize for that. [I] deleted the specific tweets,”he explained.

Hallstedt herself added to Longstreet’s claims.

“[M]y second or third week of work, a new temp environment artist sat down next to me and was working on getting his desk set up. [T]he first thing that a [full-time] person said to him was, ‘ready to die from crunch?’ [I] will never forget that,” Hallstedt wrote.

“[I]and most other contractors, some of the most talented junior-level workers that games have to offer, worked at $12/hour to work on a AAA game unless you were a woman like me, we got $11/hour,” she continued.

“[NetherRealm] has one of the worst reputation among devs, especially women and queerfolk, to a point that almost anytime [I] bring it up with another developer, they say ‘fck that place,’ her allegation continues. “[I]f you want another company to be pissed at then please add it to your list.”

We’ve asked NetherRealm for comment on the allegations and will update this story upon its reply.

Mortal Kombat 11 is available now on Windows PC, Xbox One and PS4.

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Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.