Lockwood Publishing, a British developer best known for the metaverse game Avakin Life, has come under fire again. Company reviews, which have been backed up by a former employee, claim there is a “complete and utter disconnect” between management and workers. Many also say there is a “new director or product manager hired every week,” some of whom are apparently personal friends of the CEO, and “yes men with no experience.”
On top of this, many continue to address a recent wave of layoffs, which have been labeled “illegal”. This saw 33 workers lose their jobs just before Christmas, with incredibly little warning. This is despite $25 million in investment from Tencent, and the personal fortune of CEO Halli Bjornsson, who reportedly earns £360,000 a year and has claimed £600,000 in expenses.
“[Halli Bjornsson] is the most ignorant CEO I’ve ever known,” a Glassdoor review reads. “It’s infuriating to see the business make good people redundant to ‘cut costs’ and then open new studios and hire more six-figure salary executives who everyone seems to be ex-colleagues of each other.”
“The management team is atrocious. There is no empathy with the workforce,” says another account. Many others are following this trend, with one long-term current employee saying it’s “a real white boys’ club thing” higher up in the company.
“There are many hires at this upper level,” the review continues. “And often these employees are friends of managers, and come with extremely high salaries.”
Another review, also from a current employee, criticizes the higher ups for following “hype trains” like Roblox and NFT, which is proving costly. “This doesn’t stop them from paying themselves a quarter million salary, of course, while others struggle financially.”
This reportedly results in crunch. A current artist at Lockwood says that due to the CEO’s “whims” they had to slog through the weekends near Christmas to make changes to Avakin Life. Overall, almost every review mentions the CEO’s interference, and the direction of Avakin Life changes frequently. It is also claimed that the CEO does not accept criticism from developers.
These reviews were backed up to TheGamer by a former Lockwood employee. “Everybody’s tired,” the worker told us. “Management ignores it and carries on as if nothing is happening.” This apparently leads to many employees choosing to quit, on top of those who lost their jobs last year.
Lockwood has responded to many of the reviews and written to former employees:
“Thank you for your feedback regarding your time at Lockwood. We apologize that your experience at Lockwood did not meet your expectations and we take your criticism seriously. We would like to do better and even though you” are no longer with the company , your comments are being heard and we hope we can take some of this to help current staff who may also have concerns.”
Lockwood has been contacted for comment. We will update this report to reflect any statement the company shares.
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