Report: LA Noire's Development Was Hell. Rockstar No Longer Working With Team Bondi.

Andrew McMillen, who published the original report on IGN claiming poor work conditions at LA Noire developer Team Bondi, has now published on what's claimed to be a series of leaked internal emails that don't exactly paint Bondi's boss, Brendan McNamara, in a good light.

Amongst the bad blood between Rockstar and Team Bondi on display in the emails, there's the news that the publisher will no longer be working with the Sydney-based developer. There's also claims that the game, over six years in development, was only finished after direct involvement by Rockstar.

"Rockstar also made a huge contribution to the development; their producers were increasingly influential over the last two years of the game's development, and overruled many of the insane decisions made by Team Bondi management," one of the source of the emails tells

"At a lower level, Rockstar also pitched in with programmers, animators, artists, QA, etc. Part of the conflict between Team Bondi and Rockstar was due to Rockstar's frustration with Team Bondi's direction, and eventually Team Bondi's management in turn resented Rockstar for taking lots of creative control."

"It's also worth pointing out that Rockstar used to be very keen on making Team Bondi something like 'Rockstar Sydney'—the more they worked with Team Bondi management, the more they came to understand that this was a terrible idea."

You can read the full report, including the alleged emails, at the link below.

Revealed: The emails behind the whistle blowing at Team Bondi []


    major blow for gaming industry in Australia, this will paint bad blood on a pretty solid australian gaming industry workers who are currently pumping out top of the line ios and android games all because of some UK imports that couldn't run a studio.

    I would of loved for Rockstar Sydney to become reality, but the most likely thing to happen is Team Bondi will be closing down.

      I don't know about that. It reflects very poorly on the management of Team Bondi, but the art and technical people will be judged by what's in the final product rather than how the project was run.

      lol team bondi shutting down, they pretty much just had game of the year

        Honestly it wouldn't surprise me, at the very least I'd be expecting some significant redundancies. While LA Noire looks to have sold well, the truth is it needed to if they were ever going to come close to recouping their investment after 7 years of development. Given that I doubt they're in nearly as good a position as you might imagine, especially if Rockstar is dropping them. If that happens, and Team Bondi don't have the rights to LA Noire then they could find themselves with some very very hard times ahead.

        LOL BigSime....

        Battlefield 3
        Modern Warfare 3
        Gears 3

        It's not even getting a podium finish for game of the YEAR...

          You forgot minecraft - it's currently in open beta for pre-orders, not release.

          The ones you listed might get the most sales, but in quality terms, I think we all know where the win will go.

          Not saying you're wrong, but, well, you're not currently right. None of those games are out yet. The could all end up sucking. Unlikely, but possible.

          Skyrim (5)
          Battlefield 3
          Modern Warfare 3
          Gears 3

          Sequels upon sequels for game of the year aye...that would be disappointing

        They have no plans for future projects and now one of the biggest game publishers/ developers doesn't want to touch them.

    Also can you post those emails because you have to register to see them

      I used to visit quite a lot just to get some occasional insider/dev news.... lost touch fer a while.

      And when i came back they pretty much blocked all their articles unless you sign up to the site now =/

    I don't think Rockstar is in any position to start throwing stones at others' glass houses after the Red Dead Redemption episode...

      You're right but this unfortunately spells worse fate for Australian game development regardless.

      Yes the bigwig US publishers like Rockstar have just as much to answer for as Team Bondi does for the horrible state of workplace quality. However, they also have the money, and a poor relationship means they will take their cheaper home-grown poorly-managed sweatshops over our expensive foreign poorly-managed sweatshops.

        Agreed, especially considering the tighter regulations we have on workplace conditions here in Australia.

    Interesting. It would be a great shame if the creative talent of the people working at Team Bondi was stymied by allegedly dysfunctional management.

    Not to mention the allegations of overwork and mistreatment of workers.

      I've talked with a few people who worked on this project who describe it as nothing but a horror story and wish bodily harm on McNamara and these are pretty chill guys, so I'd like to imagine that even compared to other hellhole conditions, McNamara was not your garden variety douchebag.

    So who owns the LA Noire IP, Bondi or Rockstar??Does this mean we will never see a sequel??

      I'd say its likely that they took IP ownership or agreed to buy the rights through a development agreement, ala max payne.

      I'm pretty sure Rockstar own the IP. The only way Team Bondi could have kept it would be if they'd funded development themselves, and I doubt a new startup could have afforded to fund a project of that scale. Rockstar could do a sequel with a different developer. It wouldn't be the first time - I'm pretty sure Red Dead Redemption had different developers from Red Dead Revolver. Rockstar just acquired the IP from Capcom (I think?).

    Well, so much for LA Noir 2.

    Ditch the noob in charge of TB, problem solved.

    Regardless of McNamara's behaviour, I kinda wish Rockstar hadn't taken more creative control, then we wouldn't have ended up with the GTA clone LA Noire became. :P

    Very very interesting. Can't say i'm very surprised, compared to other countries, Australia is known for having poor work-life balance and a higher than usual balance of working hours per week. Combine that with an unregulated IT industry and gaming not known for being profitable...

    omg that sucks. I was hoping to be a artist for team bondi in the future.

    Well this explains why La Noire was crap

    Such a shame. Australia's whole reputation as developers will be tarnished by a couple of suits who don't know how to run a studio.

    I know that when I left uni, I was looking for an artist position at a game studio. Team bondi were continually posting jobs for art and programming. I wish I lived in Sydney.
    This brings our number of known IP's to 2. De blob and Puzzle quest.
    It's a pity because bad managers can ruin an entire company. Maybe rockstar should ditch the managers and insert their own eh?

      Hey there are some other good IP's out there. Look at Flight Control and Real Racing by Firemint, sure their not console games but their probs making more money than alot of console games out there.

      Australia's handheld / indie games industry is going quite well at the moment and just today i've seen another 5 or so indie iOS developers in Melbourne alone that i never knew existed.

      Its safe to say console development is sliding downhill in Aus atm though.

    I agree, and I live right down the road from bondi T.T

    now I have to go to EA games in Melbourne. sigh, it sucks how 1 person ruins it for everyone.

      Well atleast you have the opportunity to relocate and are free to move. Many in the industry have commitments keeping them from jumping ship.

      Good to see EA Melbourne took you in though!

    God damn it.
    How heart breaking, so much for Australia's gaming industry getting better...

    This is a huge shame...

    LA Noire was one of my favourite titles released this year and I was really looking forward to a potential sequel. Hopefully it will still happen.

    Why is everyone worried about a sequel?
    Of course there will be a sequel, its just Australia won't be going anywhere near it!

    I see a bit of speculation about how this reflects on Australia as a place for international companies to start up studios. I'd like kotaku's opinion on that. In light of the new tax incentives too. Is the news of that being overshadowed by team Bondi overseas?

      I don't think it will have any impact whatsoever to be honest.

    One of the best articles I've ever read. From the eye of Sauron article to the ign La Noir article I've always had a gut feeling things were that bad. Now I don't feel extreme in saying I will not buy that game!

    This is actually pretty typical of any game or movie that has a long development, sooner or later the parent-company producers get involved to 'get it finished' and there is a major clash between the parent-studio and the studio that has been working on the title.
    People are brought in from the parent company to take control and get it out the door and a lot of bad-blood is left behind as a result.

    I've lost count of the number of films I've worked on where this has happened.

    hmm this reminds me of infinity ward and activision...

    Just sayin'

    That's right, cut and run again you giant pussy of a corporation!

    Wouldn't be the first time!
    (Red Dead Redemption's team fired despite it being a hit.)

    Because 'The Getaway' was such a quality title right..

    I'm so glad that my job application to Team Bondi back in 2008 wasn't accepted. I probably would have gone postal reading about the incompetence of their management.

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