Yoshinori Ono is another developer who decided to speak up about working conditions within the electronic entertainment software industry...specifically, working conditions at Capcom. In a lengthy interview with Eurogamer the producer tells writer Simon Parkin to use the headline "Capcom overworks Ono" because he says the company would sack him if he tried speaking up on the issues.
Just so readers have an idea of what this is all about, Yoshinori Ono is the famous producer who rose through the ranks of Capcom and eventually nursed Street Fighter back into the mainstream spotlight with Street Fighter 4. According to Ono, Capcom wanted nothing to do with Street Fighter after Third Strike because they didn't see it as a mainstream seller anymore and Ono says he received a lot of inter-office political opposition getting the game done and out there.
Fast-forward a few rehashes and millions of dollars of revenue later and Ono is back on the fighting game train, this time with a little title called Street Fighter X Tekken. Now, most of you know about all the ugly news that came out of this site involving the disc-locked content, which eventually caused the game to under-perform on Capcom's estimated bottom line for the game.
One of the things we didn't cover during that time was the stress Yoshinori Ono had undergone promoting the game and trying to save face for Capcom. It resulted in him passing out and being hospitalized due to heart troubles. Ono says that once he got back to the office Capcom had already set out a schedule for him and prompted him to get right back to work. This cued the following response from Ono...
"Capcom doesn't allow a trade union or any sort of worker movement you see,"..."So if I complain I will probably get sacked. You have to say it for me, OK? I want you to write: 'Capcom overworks Ono'. That's your headline."
He then follows it up with something I didn't expect him to say -- since the above statement comes across as jocular and slightly surreal -- but he gets serious stating the following about Capcom's work schedule....
Nobody told me to take a rest. When I returned to work, Capcom didn't even acknowledge that I had been in hospital. There was no change in my schedule. I was at home for an entire week before the doctors allowed me to return to work. When I returned to my desk there was a ticket to Rome waiting for me. There's no mercy. Everyone in the company says: 'Ono-san we've been so worried about you.' Then they hand me a timetable and it's completely filled with things to do."
He's referring to Keiji Inafune of Mega-Man fame, Hideki Kamiya of Devil May Cry fame, and Shinji Mikami who made Resident Evil a household name. All of the aforementioned game designers are no longer with Capcom.
He's the last superstar legend on Capcom's roster and the interview, if taken seriously, seems as if he may not be there much longer. He also talks about rising through the ranks, working absurd hours and practically living out of the office to get the projects finished on time, some with rather ridiculous stipulations. If you think it's all bollocks think again.
While it's an anonymous post on 4Chan, you can read this post for what it's worth. It details an atrocious experience an employee had while working at Capcom, their treatment of employees and how they will cut every corner possible to enforce production on a game is churned out fast and furious like a factory-made consumable.
Now if you're of the ilk who won't even glance at anything 4Chan worthy, perhaps the next example will hit a little closer to the reality pot, as a young female employee assigned to the Dragon's Dogma team was harassed enough at the company to the point of nearly committing suicide, as reported by Kotaku. The case has entered litigation but much of what was described by Ono and the anonymous 4Chan poster is also mentioned by the former Capcom employee. Great times, eh?
Capcom wouldn't be the first company falling under accusations of employee mistreatment. Anyone recall the spouses of EA employees filing a lawsuit against the company? Yeah, well if you don't remember, the article is still fresh and available over at CNET.
If Yoshinori Ono is serious about Capcom then it won't be long before he departs, but one thing becomes blatantly clear: Capcom doesn't just screw gamers over with all their anti-consumer shenanigans, they also screw their own employees over in order to enforce said shenanigans. If you boycott Capcom you're not just boycotting poor consumer policies but poor employee policies as well. It's kind of crappy because I was planning on getting Resident Evil 6.
On a positive note, the famous Street Fighter producer doesn't plan on leaving gaming for good, he still has plans for the future, saying...
"I want to sit in my office and plan this out. There have been rumours saying Ono is dead or retiring. None of that's true. I want to support the next generation of fighting game. It's my job. It's my calling."
You can read the very interesting, entertaining and highly informative interview over at Eurogamer.