Game firms struggle with increasingly aggressive unions

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Game firms struggle with increasingly aggressive unions

Members of Nexon's union hold a rally in front of the game company's building in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Sept. 3, calling on management to guarantee employment stability. / Yonhap

By Jun Ji-hye

Major game companies such as Nexon and Smilegate have come into conflict with unions that are claiming an increasing number of game developers have experienced employment instability following management decisions to halt several development projects.

Smilegate's union, called SG Guild, said Wednesday it is planning to hold a rally on Sept. 20 in front of the company to call on the management to resolve employment uncertainty and engage in negotiations more sincerely.

The planned union rally comes after Nexon's union, called Starting Point, held its rally on Sept. 3.

Cha Sang-joon, who heads the union of Smilegate, said the upcoming rally will deal with concerns among game developers over job insecurity and urge the company to bolster communication with the union.

Regarding the plan, a Smilegate official said, "As far as we know, the rally is designed to mark the first anniversary of the launch of the union," refusing to go into details.

Unions of game companies have called into question management practices to transfer game developers to other departments after development projects are halted due to lack of feasibility.

Most recently, Nexon decided to stop developing "Peria Chronicles" that had been in production for about eight years. Nexon had invested more than 60 billion won ($50 million) into the game, but decided to cancel it as "It was expected the game would not satisfy users."

Unions claimed the companies have suspended development projects and reassigned game developers to other departments ― sometimes to departments unrelated to development ― without sufficient discussion with them.

An official from a game company noted union disputes have emerged recently in the game industry as game companies have mostly grown from small-scale firms to large ones.

"It is natural for employees in large companies to be redeployed to other departments when projects they work for end or get suspended," the official said. "I think game companies are going through a period of transition, thus it may take time for workers in the industry to accept such practices."


Members of Nexon's union hold a rally in front of the game company's building in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Sept. 3, calling on management to guarantee employment stability. / Yonhap

By Jun Ji-hye

Major game companies such as Nexon and Smilegate have come into conflict with unions that are claiming an increasing number of game developers have experienced employment instability following management decisions to halt several development projects.

Smilegate's union, called SG Guild, said Wednesday it is planning to hold a rally on Sept. 20 in front of the company to call on the management to resolve employment uncertainty and engage in negotiations more sincerely.

The planned union rally comes after Nexon's union, called Starting Point, held its rally on Sept. 3.

Cha Sang-joon, who heads the union of Smilegate, said the upcoming rally will deal with concerns among game developers over job insecurity and urge the company to bolster communication with the union.

Regarding the plan, a Smilegate official said, "As far as we know, the rally is designed to mark the first anniversary of the launch of the union," refusing to go into details.

Unions of game companies have called into question management practices to transfer game developers to other departments after development projects are halted due to lack of feasibility.

Most recently, Nexon decided to stop developing "Peria Chronicles" that had been in production for about eight years. Nexon had invested more than 60 billion won ($50 million) into the game, but decided to cancel it as "It was expected the game would not satisfy users."

Unions claimed the companies have suspended development projects and reassigned game developers to other departments ― sometimes to departments unrelated to development ― without sufficient discussion with them.

An official from a game company noted union disputes have emerged recently in the game industry as game companies have mostly grown from small-scale firms to large ones.

"It is natural for employees in large companies to be redeployed to other departments when projects they work for end or get suspended," the official said. "I think game companies are going through a period of transition, thus it may take time for workers in the industry to accept such practices."


Jun Ji-hye jjh@koreatimes.co.kr


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