I’m not in the game industry, but I’m sure you’ll find this story relevant. Working as an animator for broadcast television is a luck of the draw for what show you’re working on. Where you’re placed is the difference between drawing colorful squares and circles for toddlers or pushing the lines with some crazy new WB title. Quite frankly, you’re happy as long as at the end of the week there’s a paycheck with your name on it… and even that’s a crapshoot.
A now bankrupt company that once ‘employed’ young men and women fresh out of college (taking in almost all of my classmates that year) in downtown Halifax, realized that halfway through the contract that their show would no longer have any chance of finishing or staying within the budget.
Instead of pay, employees would receive royalties from the shows that would never be finished! When notified of this new “arrangement,” we immediately tried to contact the studio head, to no avail, since he never actually came to work. I know several that slaved on for months in a desperate hope of scrounging a rare paycheck as they ate away what little they had saved from their previous paychecks and student loans.
Management would receive their paychecks by walking out to the studio head’s car in the parking lot at a designated time confirmed ahead by cell phone.
Many of the employees were as bankrupt as the company, and the studio head has since started a new company in a different region employing the same strategy.
I now work for the Canadian military as an electrician.