Hey, who here remembers Homefront? You know, THQ’s big attempt to compete with the Call of Duties and Battlefields of the world? Yeah, I didn’t think so. The title didn’t exactly turn out as THQ had hoped, and Homefront developer Kaos Studios was shuttered shortly after the game was released.
So, how did the development of Homefront go wrong? A better question might be, “how didn’t it go wrong?” People who worked on the game are beginning to speak out, and they’re painting a bleak picture of the conditions under which the game was made.
Hit the jump for all the dirty details…
Kaos Studios lost much of their staff after the release of their previous game, including a studio founder. People were hired to fill these vacancies, most of whom were very qualified. Perhaps too qualified. The new staffers had more experience than the people hiring them, which led to a backward structure where the studio was lead by the least qualified, while experienced talent filled out the lower ranks. The ideas of Kaos Studios’ inexperienced bosses usually won out, leading to numerous development dead ends. Homefront took three years to develop, but most of the first two years was wasted — at one point nearly nine months was spent on a single-player prototype that was eventually scrapped.
Then there was Danny Bilson, executive vice president of THQ’s core games division — while he claimed in interviews to have nothing to do with the development of Homefront, in reality he meddled in nearly every aspect of the game’s production. For instance, it was Bilson who insisted the storyline revolve around an invasion of the United States by North Korea, a plot point most people who have read a newspaper even once would find ridiculous.
It wasn’t just bad management either — basic working conditions were terrible. Some Kaos Studios staffers have reported having to work 14 to 16 hours days, seven days a week, for up to 14-months. The Kaos offices were also cramped and run down. People were apparently working in stairwells, and broken bathroom facilities were replaced with buckets.
So yeah, from the sounds of it, it’s kind of a miracle Homefront actually made it to store shelves at all. Parents, I suggest you bookmark this post just in case your kids ever start talking about wanting to make video games for a living and need to be set straight.