Elden Ring: Developer compares working at From Software to Dark Souls

As early as March and thus shortly after the release of Elden Ring, some critical voices from developers regarding the working conditions at the Japanese studio From Software received public attention.

Between 2012 and 2019, employees commented on their employer on the Japanese website Career connection and achieved an average score of 2.6 (out of 5). 40 hours of overtime per month is the norm with an annual salary of 3.4 million yen (about $25,000) and pregnant developers aren’t allowed parental leave, it said (via the gamers).

From Software: Employees paint a mixed picture

In the meantime, the colleagues from Gamesindustry.biz Spoke to some current and former developers at From Software, who all wish to remain anonymous due to a studio policy against giving interviews. The studio itself did not respond to several inquiries.

Several employees said that From Software is not a crunch-free studio, although the dimensions should depend on the department. “During critical periods of game release, I had to start early in the morning and work overtime, sometimes for two to three months,” explained one developer.

Another employee spoke of similar times and emphasized that crunch does not happen every day. It mostly happened “during the ROM review for the publisher or two to three months before the release”. Although there was financial compensation for overtime, according to some developers, it was less than the normal wage during normal working hours.

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However, there were also dissenting voices. One of the anonymous sources pointed out, “Japan has many public holidays [und] there is a rule that employees [von From Software] should not stay longer than 10 p.m. and 90% of the time they do not stay longer than 9 p.m..” In view of the “flexible working hours” advertised by From Software, a late end of the working day can be managed with little or no overtime.

Comparatively low wages in expensive Tokyo

According to statements, nothing seems to have changed in terms of the 3.4 million yen annual salary, which, given the company’s headquarters in expensive Tokyo, frustrates some developers. The salary is therefore “not appropriate” and is, for example, far below the 5.2 million yen (about 36,000 euros) that employees are supposed to receive at the similarly large competitor Atlus.

Meanwhile, not all employees are dissatisfied with the working conditions at From Software. One compared working there to the experience of playing Dark Souls, and in a positive way: “It takes effort to get things right, but when you get over the hurdle it’s very satisfying. Like defeating a boss in Dark Souls.”