Ex-Wolfenstein developers discuss forming a new studio that emphasizes a healthy work-life balance.
Two Former developers at Wolfenstein developer MachineGames have formed a new studio called Bad Yolk, located in Uppsala, Sweden.
Bad Yolk is made up of Michael Paixao and Joel Jonsson, two former technical artists at MachineGames, and ten senior developers that have worked on franchises like Gears of War, Chronicles of Riddick, and The Divison. With Paixao as CEO and Jonsson as creative director, their goal is to strike a work-life balance that doesn’t burn out their developers.
“After years of working with extremely talented people on some really great projects we felt it was time to branch out on our own to create a new kind of studio,” said Paixao.
“Obviously, high quality video games should be fun to play, but we also believe that they should be fun to make and that creativity thrives best in a healthy and balanced work environment, which is a central pillar of our corporate message and structure,” Paixao continued.
The road to forming Bad Yolk wasn’t easy. In another Gamesindustry.biz interview with Paixao and Jonsson, they discuss the legal drama of forming the studio. Between a lawsuit with Zenimax Media over its non-solicitation clause and Swedish law wanting to treat people fairly, it was an uphill battle for everyone. Their case ended up going to the highest court in Sweden and it resulted in a permanent change in Sweden’s labor laws.
“I’ve been in the AAA industry for many years, and honestly I was starting to get burned out,” said Paixao. “I just needed to change the pace and get away from that. It was really unhealthy, a lot of times. That was one of the big motivators for me and Joel when we left [MachineGames]. We decided to try and do better, and treat people right. We feel that good games will come out of that.”
Paixao points out the importance of speaking up if someone is working too many hours or to take vacations. Additionally, Bad Yolk intends on having six-hour workdays rather than eight hour days. Overall, the studio is taking the skills it’s learned from AAA games and putting those into a smaller project.
“The biggest reason we wanted to start a studio is that we want to do things differently in the games industry,” Paixao continued. “When we formed the company and went out looking for investment, we made it very clear that the most important thing for the company is employee health, employee happiness, and then the game – in that order. Non-negotiable, in that order. We feel that if people are healthy and happy, the project will get done.”
While it’s unclear what type of game Bad Yolk will make, we’ll be sure to let you know when they announce it.