Bodycount Developer Details ‘Unlawful’ Working Conditions, Codemasters Responds

Bodycount Developer Details ‘Unlawful’ Working Conditions, Codemasters Responds

Semi Essessi, who was unfortunate enough to have worked on Codemasters’ abyssmal first-person shooter Bodycount, says that wasn’t the worst part of his job. Essessi spilled the beans to Eurogamer earlier this week, detailing what he claims were “unlawful” working conditions.

He says that he was not compensated for over 400 hours of overtime he worked leading up to the game’s launch and that many of the things he was tasked to do exceeded his job description by leaps and bounds. He goes on to say that Codies promised him time off as compensation for his overtime, but the only time he got off was when he was let go as Codemasters’ Guildford studio shut down last year.

Worse yet? When he took his complaints up with HR they said he wasn’t entitled to any overtime pay at all. Bollocks!

However, things suddenly seemed a little better. Essessi and his co-workers received an extra month of pay on their final paychecks. Maybe Codies was trying to make good after all?

Not so fast.

Essessi says Codemasters soon asked for the money back and claimed that it was an accounting error. They wanted him to pay it back almost immediately. The problem was he’d already spent the money trying to wipe out a large chunk of the debt he’d accrued from moving to Guildford to work at Codemasters! Double bollocks!

I needed legal advice and they were asking me to repay the money faster than I feasibly could get any. In fact they were asking me to pay by bank transfer as well, meaning I would have to make a payment immediately to have any chance of meeting their ridiculous deadline.

Essessi obviously had trouble meeting Codies’ deadlines and they soon threatened to petition for his bankruptcy.

After laying us off, after horribly mistreating us, after cocking up the redundancy procedure and best of all, just before Christmas, they are coming at us aggressively because they made yet another mistake. I have a general feeling of anger that the redundancy is ultimately down to the people at the senior level… having left a studio to burn through £20 million of expenses without any checks or balances to safeguard the investment, and yet we were blamed for this!

Triple bollocks.

Essessi concluded his story proclaiming, “I am sick and tired of big businesses being incompetent and getting away with it because of fear and naivete. I don’t like bullies, I never have, I never will.”

Now that the story has gone public, Codemasters has responded to Eurogamer and Essessi saying:

The company has been, and continues to be, in open dialogue with Semi regarding the reimbursement of funds paid into his account following an administrative error, as it is entitled to. As the conversation regarding his personal situation is ongoing, the company has not, as alleged, pursued it as a legal matter with him. The company’s advisers are now aware of the additional comments that Semi has published and these will be addressed with him directly through the appropriate channels as necessary.

That sure isn’t saying a whole lot, guys.

Laid-off programmer details “unlawful” last days at Bodycount studio [Eurogamer]

Reinventing the Wheel [Semi Essessi’s Blog]


  • “The company’s advisers are now aware of the additional comments that Semi has published and these will be addressed with him directly”

    I see that workshop on “ominiously worded press releases” was well attended by Codies PR department.

  • “Worse yet? When he took his complaints up with HR they said he wasn’t entitled to any overtime pay at all. Bollocks!”

    He needs to check his contract. If it says that he’s not entitled to overtime pay, then he’s not. End of discussion on that point, at least. And if he signed it when the contract said that, he’s only got himself to blame.

    It’s a different kettle of fish however if the contract says he should get paid overtime, or maybe doesn’t mention overtime at all.

    Without knowing what the contract says, it’s difficult to say more.

    • If he knew he wasn’t entitled to over time pay, he should have just gone home. Why do the 400Hrs in the first place?

      • because big companies fire the people who say no and hire one of the many clamoring for a job and willing to do this crap.

  • He could’ve just not worked. If everyone’s in the same boat, strike.

    I suppose to counter my own argument he may have been desperate/reliant on the wages.

    But its a bit silly to sit through it all and complain after the fact.

  • Wow that last line didn’t sound at all like “We’ll send our trained hitmen to pay him a visit and our trained lawyers to suck dry his widow for every cent they had”! Not at all!

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