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Press Reset: Ruin and Recovery in the Video Game Industry

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From the bestselling author of Blood, Sweat, and Pixels comes the next definitive, behind-the-scenes account of the video game industry: how some of the past decade's most renowned studios fell apart -- and the stories, both triumphant and tragic, of what happened next.

Jason Schreier's groundbreaking reporting has earned him a place among the preeminent investigative journalists covering the world of video games. In his eagerly anticipated, deeply researched new book, Schreier trains his investigative eye on the volatility of the video game industry and the resilience of the people who work in it.

The business of videogames is both a prestige industry and an opaque one. Based on dozens of first-hand interviews that cover the development of landmark games -- Bioshock Infinite, Epic Mickey, Dead Space, and more -- on to the shocking closures of the studios that made them, PRESS RESET tells the stories of how real people are affected by game studio shutdowns, and how they recover, move on, or escape the industry entirely.

Schreier's insider interviews cover hostile takeovers, abusive bosses, corporate drama, bounced checks, and that one time the Boston Red Sox's Curt Schilling decided he was going to lead a game studio that would take out World of Warcraft. Along the way, he asks pressing questions about why, when the video game industry is more successful than ever, it's become so hard to make a stable living making video games -- and whether the business of making games can change before it's too late.

320 pages, Paperback

First published May 11, 2021

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Jason Schreier

2 books465 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 506 reviews
Profile Image for Erik.
338 reviews268 followers
May 12, 2023
Honestly, this book just made me mad.

It made me mad because it’s a Video-Game-centric slice of the post-capitalist, materialistic, inverse-Robin Hood world we live in. A world that is by no means terrible but could easily be a lot better. Like, really easily.

So basically, Press Reset’s thesis is that the video game development industry is notoriously unstable. Studio closures and massive lay-offs are the rule, rather than the exception. The book’s question, then, is why? And (briefly at the end) how can we change this?

As I wrote in my review of Jason Schreier’s first (and much less enraging) book, I’m a huge fan of video games. My first consoles were the original Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis - and we had a PC that I remember playing Command and Conquer on when I was 11. Fast forward to today when I just bought a PS5, I have a 3080 in my PC, and I am a solo indie game developer. Gaming has been my primary hobby throughout my life and will likely be to the end of my life. I love stories, I love artistry, I love imagination, I love systems, mathematical, physical, linguistic, and otherwise.

So this book is particularly personal because I’m acquainted with every development studio mentioned. For example, a big chunk of this book follows several developers from Irrational Games who created Bioshock Infinite and, oh look, here’s my steam review from way back in 2013.

So that’s part of why it’s so enraging. When I started video gaming, it was a niche industry and those of us who played them were often looked down upon as “geeks” and “nerds” and “losers” who lacked social skills. But I always knew they were the future because they were awesome. Certainly more interesting than paying for the privilege of watching roided-up multi-millionaires give each other brain damage on Monday night football. So the fact that the video game industry was destined to become big business - and eventually be taken over by soulless goons with eyes only for $$$ - was inevitable. But that doesn’t make it any less enraging.

There are a lot of quotes in that vein. Here’s a selection:
“There were people at Disney in executive positions who’d come right out and tell you, ‘I don’t like games,” Spector said. “And I’d be like, “Why are you involved in running a game division then?’”

“[The EA executive] said, ‘Why would I give you a dollar knowing I’m gonna get $1.10 back when I can give Chris $10 million and either make $100 million or get a tax write-off?’”

From EA’s perspective, this was just how the mobile business model worked. The product managers valued statistics and numbers above all else, and they had loads of data showing that iPhone and Android players were perfectly fine with timers that lasted hours or even days. […] “Individually, within the studio, people would look at each other in the eye and go, ‘People are going to hate this,” Crooks said. “You’re like, ‘Yeah, I know. But we have to make it.’���

The executives talked about the new mega-popular battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which they were looking to emulate, and they praised Visceral’s staff, offering platitudes about how talented the team was and how hard they’d all worked. Then they told everyone how to get their severance packages.

Etc, etc. It’s the story of almost every chapter. So I’m actually a bit down on Press Reset. Jason Schreier is WIDELY considered the best games journalist and he absolutely comes through here as well but... Go ask any informed gamer to guess the attitudes and behavior of executives at EA or Activision, and their response will more or less match the content of this book. So Press Reset doesn’t really accomplish anything, and it isn’t fun to read either. As I wrote earlier, it just made me mad.

As one final note, I’d also add that the behavior of executives/MBAs/bankers/etc shouldn’t be shocking if you’ve ever meaningfully interacted with such people. I’ve been a teacher for over a decade now, and my experience is that students who profess to be seeking careers in “business” tend toward amorality. Not immorality. Amorality. As in, ethical or moral considerations simply aren’t a part of their decision making. They’ll cheat or lie without any compunction or hesitation, in order to get the grade or the girl or the goal. They’ll often do it quite warmly, but they’ll do it without a second thought.

Which makes sense. Because a student saying he wants a career in “business” (which is, um, everything) is usually synonymous with saying he doesn’t have any particular career goal or passion. Which leaves us with only one motivation: money. And not like money as a means to an end, like, say, enough money to send your kids to private school or retire at 40 or to buy a yacht. But money as a metric for success.

And those who measure their success by money can never have enough of it. They want to make 20 million rather than 10 million not because they have any need or use of that extra 10 million but because 20 million is twice as successful as 10 million. Such people will only ever consider ethical or aesthetic concerns insofar as they affect profit.

Understanding this helps make sense of this book - and indeed the world we live in. The leaders of the video game industry, just like leaders of most industries, just like most leaders of most governments, are basically amoral. They’re not sadistic. They don’t get pleasure from hurting people. It’s just morality simply doesn’t register, the notion that we should or should not do something for moral reasons is entirely alien to them. Entirely.
Profile Image for M. Tatari.
Author 30 books274 followers
May 17, 2022
Veee bir çeviri daha biter, yayınevine postalanır.

Schreier bu kitabında oyunların arkasındaki yapım hikâyeleri yerine oyun yapan insanların yaşadıkları zorlukları, kapatılan stüdyoları, çalışabilmek için durmadan taşınmak zorunda kalan insanları, başarılı olsalar bile kendilerini sürekli beş parasız ve işsiz bulan yapımcıların çektiklerini anlatıyor. Ne acıdır ki yediden yetmişine, ünlüsünden ünsüzüne her geliştirici sürekli aynı dertlerden muzdarip olmuş.

Toplam dokuz bölümden oluşan kitapta Junction Point (Epic Mickey), Irrational Games (BioShock), Molasses Flood (The Flame in the Flood), 2K Marin (BioShock 2), Visceral Games (Dead Space), 38 Studios ve Big Huge Games (Kingdoms of Amalur) ve Mythic Entertainment (Dungeon Keeper Mobile) stüdyolarının neden kapatıldığı, işine son veren insanların yaşadığı zorluklar ve sonrasında neler yaptıkları anlatılıyor.

Bunun yanı sıra bölüm aralarında oyun dünyasına dair başka hikâyeler de okuyoruz. Deus Ex ve System Shock nasıl doğdu? Warren Spector gibi efsane bir isim durup dururken neden bir Mickey Mouse oyunu yaptı? The Bureau: XCOM Declassified diye bir oyun hangi akla hizmet yapıldı? Dead Space 3'e niçin co-op eklendi? Telltale'in başına neler geldi? Ben her zamanki gibi bu ayrıntıları okumayı daha çok sevdim.

Tek sevmediğim yanı yazarın ara sıra kendi politik görüşünü satır aralarına sıkıştırması oldu. Bir de dönüp dolaşıp aynı konuyu tekrar tekrar okuyormuş gibi bir hisse kapılıyorsunuz bazen. Ama bunun sebebi daha çok herkesin aşağı yukarı aynı şeyleri yaşaması aslında.

Aslında çeviriyi daha erken teslim etmem gerekirdi ama ağustos ayının yarısından fazlasını annem ve babamın sağlık sorunları nedeniyle hastanelerde, acillerde geçirince ister istemez gecikti. Çok şükür ki ikisinin de durumu şimdi iyi.

Geçen kitapta olduğu gibi özel terimlerin hem İngilizcesini hem de Türkçesini yazmaya özen gösterdim. Malum, oyunlar artık Türkçe yerelleştirmeyle çıktığından bazı şeylerin bizde iki ismi oluyor. Bazılarımı İngilizcesiyle biliyoruz, bazılarımız Türkçesiyle. Mesela Enter the Gungeon'daki "Gungeon" oyunun resmi Türkçe çevirisinden "Zindandan" diye geçiyor... gibi gibi. Geçen kitapta Diablo 3, Witcher 3 gibi oyunların terimlerini de hem İngilizce hem Türkçe olarak yazmıştım, sonra eleştiri almıştım bunun için. Sebebini burada belirteyim, anlaşmazlık olmasın :)

Hatamız olduysa affola.
Profile Image for Olive Fellows (abookolive).
586 reviews4,737 followers
November 8, 2022
This is a look at the inner workings of the video game industry, as told by video games journalist Jason Schreier, who now writes for Bloomberg. These days, the only thing you can expect when you're working on a AAA game is volatility. You'll pump countless hours into making a game, just to find yourself laid off at the end of the project.

Schreier does a great job telling the stories of (mainly former) employees who experienced some of the worst the industry has to offer, even after working incredibly hard and making a fabulous, critically acclaimed game. He provides no concrete solutions, but that very well may be because they're aren't any.

Click here to watch my mini review on Tik Tok (@nonfictionnovember)!
Profile Image for Michelle Curie.
740 reviews367 followers
May 22, 2021
The video game industry is notoriously difficult – only a fracture of the passionate people working in this field actually stay in the industry for more than a decade or two. The question of why is the one this book is out to answer.

I loved Jason Schreier's previous book, which was both well-researched and well-written, leading me to be well-excited for what he'd be digging up next.

Press Reset focus not so much on the games, and more on the people that are making them. In many ways, it's more harrowing, because it shows that even successes can lead to the dissolution of studios and people losing their jobs. How unsustainable and unstable the industry is, is shocking considering the fact that these things are known.

"Chat with anyone who's worked in video games for more than a few years and they'll almost certainly have a story about that time they lost their job. Maybe they worked on a game that didn't sell well enough, or they got stuck on a project mismanaged by egomaniacal directors. Maybe their publisher needed to juice the numbers on its newest quarterly earnings report. Maybe they were part of a cost-cutting measure, or a strategic resource realignment, or any of the other jargony euphemisms for You no longer work here"

I have to admit that as a reader I was a little less interested in this particular narrative, as I haven't played most of the games of the studios that Schreier wrote about here, and I assume it's just more fun when you already have a bit of context. Nonetheless, I found myself whizzing through the pages, as Schreier once more proved that he's great at covering these kinds of stories. He covers the closing of studios like Irrational Games, everything that happened with the makers of BioShock and illuminates the curious events surrounding 38 Studios, which was founded that time baseball player Curt Schilling decided to change fields.

Overall, this is another success for Schreier and probably an important release for the industry that is so desperately in need of structural changes. If you care about games and how they're made, as well as for the business aspects of it all, this is a deeply satisfying and fun read.
Profile Image for Yuri Krupenin.
94 reviews314 followers
May 26, 2021
Вам интересно происходящее в видеоигровой индустрии? Тогда разговор простой: вы видите фамилию "Шрайер" — вы читаете текст под ней.

Никто, правда, не обещает, что этот текст вам понравится. Шрайер — рупор, через который недовольные условиями в индустрии профессионалы обращаются к более широкой публике.

Во-первых, это формирует в определённой степени однобокий нарратив: вы никогда не прочитаете у Шрайера о тяжёлых трудовых буднях топ-менеджера, вынужденного каждый день заворачивать по десятку заведомо провальных проектов соплежуйских фантазёров, уговаривать особенно идейные студии воткнуть микротранзакции хоть в какой-то форме, и с минимальными потерями закрывать их, когда те не смогут, как обычно, ничего сделать нормально...

Да, мне тоже на самом деле здесь несколько менее интересны страдания противоположной стороны, но ВДРУГ — я слышал в твиттере много разных претензий такого рода, надо было проговорить.

Во-вторых, что чуть более разочаровывает, Шрайеру всё ещё не слишком в общем-то даётся длинная форма. Истории запутанные, повествование хаотически скачет от одних участников событий к другим, в хронологии чёрт ногу сломит, книга страдает из-за попыток охвата самой широкой возможной аудитории (да, она в определённые моменты объясняет, что такое "движок", и что за игра Ultima Online), но... см. перв��й абзац: а у кого ещё вы это в принципе прочитаете?
Profile Image for Jason Bergman.
706 reviews29 followers
May 11, 2021
Disclaimer: I worked with several people quoted in this book, and am friendly with the author. That said, my honest opinion is that this book is excellent. Consolidation or shutdowns happen with disturbing frequency in the gaming industry, and while we usually hear platitudes of regret from executives, the lives of the people who actually made the games rarely get discussed. Press Reset tells those stories. Some have happy endings, and some don't.

This book is an essential read for anyone who wants to work in the gaming industry.
Profile Image for Amit.
52 reviews3 followers
May 19, 2021
I preordered the book and binged it in a week full of traveling and waiting in a hospital.

If I had to pick a word to describe the subject, It would be “bleak”.

Schrier’s previous work, “Blood, Sweat and Pixels” offered a ‘round’ outlook on all kinds of projects and scopes in the industry - AAA, Indie, and everything between them, describing mostly the lows, but never forgetting the highs, of making a video game - one of the most difficult human endeavors.

This book is 8 chapters that follow this template:

- A starry-eyed developer gets to work in a shiny AAA, and gets promised this/the next project will be a megahit

- Preproduction is a blissful productive magical year

- Production is a nightmare plagued by one or more or all of the following: a game director cultivating dangerous cult of personality around them / greedy corporate practices demanding micro transactions or games as a service model or a major change in target audience and or platform

- A year of crunch destroys their health, relationships and reality

- The game possibly releases to possibly good reviews

- The developer is laid off with little to no compensation due to inability to fund another game and / or any of the evil corporation’s bottom-line-profit considerations

- The developer either finds a new gig through a job fair and moves their family across the country (go back to step 1 of this list), or starts an indie studio (losing their savings and failing more often than not) or just quits the industry.

It reads like bleakness for bleakness sake. A nihilist groundhog day. An inevitability.

On one hand, it’s cool that all the story-cases are connected. It’s fun to figure out the genealogy tree of game companies in your head while listening. The investigation probably led Schrier from one developer to the other, making it look like ‘the curse’ spared no house.

On the other, it makes it look like Schreir picked the sad corner of the industry and it’s a shame - a more wide blanket of companies would “prove” to me it’s an epidemic and not just three douchy publishers which we all know by now to be douchey slimey corporate hogs. Numbers would also drive the point home. I was left with many anecdotes and less trendlines. How many successy indie kickstarters of former AAA teams did we get during the 2010s? What’s the median amount of AAA titles a studio is expected to ship during their lifetime? What’s the average turnover rate of people leaving the industry?

This could have even been a 2 stars book if not for the last chapter, offering examples of developers breaking from this pattern and offering an escape and reconciliation of the bleak outlook on the industry.
In my opinion this chapter lacked a definition for new KPIs for the industry - because if we don’t start defining success in the industry in a way other than ‘make money’, the cycle will go on and on and on. Such are the laws of economics. And since Schreir clearly has an agenda of this kind, I would like it to be stated clearly at the end of this work.


Two additional technical notes:

- The audiobook is filled with ‘patches’ of narration I suspect was added after the main recording; they sound of lower quality and are really jarring

- How did three almost-identical lengthy explanations of what is QA and what are game engines get past editorial review?
Profile Image for Михаил.
Author 9 books92 followers
May 5, 2021
Если сравнивать эту книгу с предыдущей, то это четыре шага вперед и один чуть в сторону. На этот раз автор более серьезно рассматривает проблему, а учитывая, что суть описываемой беды куда глобальнее переработок, которые однажды с фанфарами заканчиваются, то здесь истории сильно отличаются друг от друга.

Моя любимая глава про создание Enter the Gungeon. Я не очень люблю эту игру, но после прочтения главы прямо захотелось пойти и поддержать ребят, купив игру, что я и сделал.
Profile Image for Rach.
420 reviews7 followers
October 26, 2021
First off - jason if you're out there and for some reason reading your goodreads reviews, know I will always be grateful I got to leave a screaming voicenote for @lydia because you managed to find TONS of women within the video game industry to interview. It made our hearts so full!!! But seriously flee now bud, don't ever read your goodreads reviews.

Second off - the audiobook narrator for this book is amazing, hilarious, and articulate & I love that he was the same for both books!!

Third off - this book could basically be summarized as "Bioshock was so successful it ruined everyone's lives, forever" and "EA is the villain of every story." I don't say either of these things with sarcasm and by the end of it I kind of agreed with both sentiments.

His first book (Blood Sweat and Pixels) was more structurally organized - 10 chapters, 10 studios - and this one was a little more nebulous. It followed specific people and their work trajectories in the video game industry, and sometimes it was confusing and difficult to follow. To be fair, that was meant to reflect that people's work trajectories in the video game industry is often confusing and difficult to follow. Pretty much every story was "X person worked here, which later laid them off, so they moved here, which later laid them off." Rinse and repeat.

The stories were still interesting, and sometimes absolutely wild (chapter 5 is especially insane). I felt a little less invested in this book, and I don't know if it was the non-linear structure or the fact I was less familiar with these games over those in BS&P. That wasn't to say it wasn't still interesting, and I deeply respect Jason's thorough research, invested storytelling and dedication to explaining industry terms and industry speak, no matter how "obvious" in a non-condescending way.

If you're a video game nerd, I'd recommend his first book over this one, but Press Reset is great for anyone who likes video games but is also interested in industry culture. Video game publishing and book publishing have some fascinating similarities but also HUGE deviations, and it was interesting to note that while going through this.

PopSugar 2021: a book with less than 1,000 reviews on goodreads

side note #1 - one of the low star reviews for this book said that the author set him up as the hero of this story, and I was confused about this statement the entire time I read this, like, what is this guy talking about? Then I realized it must be the last chapter, in which Jason essentially says "maybe video game workers should unionize, or companies should allow more remote work?" Review guy: if you think this is the journalist setting himself up as the hero, have I got a lot of low-quality true crime podcasts for you.

side note #2 - I like making jokes about how I learned everything imaginable about Bioware from these two books combined except for anything on Mass Effect, but this one takes the cake. The whole set up of this book is about following people through their entire careers, and TWO separate people in this book got the FULL DETAILED TREATMENT of everything they did, and ended with "and then after X studio closed, they moved to Bioware Montreal and made Mass Effect Andromeda. THE END."

like did you sign a NON DISCLOSURE WHAT IS GOING ON I'm here for the tea WHY WON'T YOU SPILL, JASON
Profile Image for Madison.
611 reviews332 followers
March 9, 2021
This book follows essentially the same structure as Schreier's fascinating Blood, Sweat, and Pixels, in that every chapter follows different developers and ill-fated studios through their inception to their bitter end. The themes of each story (and arguably most of Schreier's work in general) are the same: people who work in games are in a precarious and ever-shifting industry, and there are much-needed safeguards we should be pursuing as a society to prevent companies from treating their workers like garbage. I appreciated that the last chapter or so acted as a wrap-up, with speculation about what kinds of changes might actually create a meaningful impact for those who work in gaming.
Profile Image for Alex Givant.
276 reviews34 followers
December 6, 2021
One of my works was in digital ad agency, we had dogs in office (pet all you can, and I'm a dog person), boss brings you a beer (which you can share with dogs too), "flu-shots" every day (someone mix cocktail around 2pm and we cheer each other). Before you start envy that job, let me tell you we worked 15 hours a day and weekend sometimes. I thought this job was a hell and good only for young people (so left after 1.5 years). But after reading that book I see it was walk in a park, I wouldn't want to work for game industry in my life!
Profile Image for Alastair Heffernan.
181 reviews20 followers
May 17, 2021
It is immediately clear from the beginning of Press Reset's first chapter that this will be a journalistic treat: we are hurled straight into a conference room with a mid-career Warren Spector (legendary producer of games like System Shock) as he waits to hear what some Disney execs have to say. We are then pulled right back to the start of Spector's story to find out how he ended up in this conference room (to my eye, a book version of the venerable '14 years earlier' move filmmakers employee to add a little drama). From this punchy start, I was entranced by the numerous games studios Jason Schreier chronicles in his zippy, unpretentious documentary style. Key to this is his sensitive portrayal of a whole ensemble of game makers as they navigate the unbelievably precarious world of video game production; the studios they work for invariable collapse around them, are merged or (in one particularly odd case) go missing, throwing all their lives into disarray.

It is difficult to overstate just how turbulent the world of video game production appears to be. Chapter after chapter we are treated to story after story of one or other studio's demise, the phoenix-like rising of more production houses from its ashes and their seemingly inexorable collapse as well. While each chapter can pretty much be read on its own - like an episode of a quality documentary like Netflix's Dirty Money (I'm particularly thinking of the chapter on 38 Studios here) - the intricate weaving together of each chapter's stories is a masterstroke by Schreier. We begin with Warren Spector which leads to a discussion of Bioshock and its sequels; the collapse of the Bioshock Infinite studio Irrational is described after which we find out about where some of its employees went; in another chapter we return to 2K Marin - the studio behind Bioshock 2 and hear all about its travails. And so on and so on. The whole book is wonderfully constructed, a cleverly woven-together fabric of both company as well as individual stories.

These individual stories are, in his own telling, Schreier's focus. The tales of artists, designers and QA testers form the backbone of Press Reset and there is at times real pathos here, nowhere more so than when an industry veteran quits the industry that has so mistreated them. As we hear from Zach Mumbach on his exit: "it's shocking how it stings, how it hurts my ego ... I worked so hard to be an AAA video game maker. That was my dream since I was fourteen years old. It's really hard on the ego to say, 'Oh, I'm not a game maker anymore'."

Why do so many people abandon the industry? As Schreier makes plain throughout, it is a life of intrinsic job uncertainty, where studios are opened and closed at executive whim, where moving for new jobs every few years is a fact of life. In one bitter swipe the author points out that "the common thread [is] volatility. While the 38 Studios shutdown was wild and unusual ... it had the same results as any other big layoff. Hundreds of people were left stranded in Rhode Island, where there were no other video game companies or jobs. Those who wanted to stay in the video game industry had to again uproot their lives and move to new cities." Elsewhere we get a pretty clear view of why another video game maker, Joe Faulstick, left for website design: "it wasn't quite as glamorous as gaming but the pay was better, the work-life balance was a massive improvement, and he felt like he was part of an industry that placed more value on its workers."

You might wonder from all this why anyone is left making games at all, but while all the book's events are precipitated by studio collapses, not all the stories end in tragedy. Several of the industry participants we follow end up founding their own independent studios, finding varying levels of success (The Flame in the Flood anyone?) but they are almost unanimously happier as a result. Gwen Frey - maker of the game Kine - is a case in point on this front. As someone who has recently discovered the joy of small-studio games (Celeste, Hollow Knight, Blasphemous to name a few) it was uplifting to hear how much better the experience of making such games can be.

So why no five stars? The author does a fine job of telling the fascinating tales of games studios and their intrepid employees, but spends much less time delving into why the games industry is as it is. We hear a little about some of the factors to be clear: the exponential growth demanded by EA is cited as a key studio-killing issue at one point, as it denies moderately successful games and their developers a place in the mega-publisher's ecosystem. Similarly, we hear about clueless executives trying to merge teams in different continents on the blithe assumption that if they have sufficient people overall a game will get made, totally ignoring the human dimension. As Schreier acerbically points out: "the two companies weren't interchangeable parts. They were all strong-minded creative people, with egos and ambitions and cultures that couldn't just be jammed into the same machine". The author also has a go at suggesting some solutions to the industry's woes. He primarily advocates unionisation, with a side-order of leveraging the pandemic to promote working from home to mitigate those unending house moves.

Yet I really expected more on the business side of things, particularly from a reporter now at Bloomberg: why is it economically viable for companies to constantly throw away their greatest asset - their people - time and again to allow them to be hired by other companies? Are there other industries with these issues? What is the economics of game production and what unique elements make it so susceptible to the chaos described in this book? From a wider business perspective, I would have liked to see some more numbers attached to the issue of churn and comparisons with other sectors: the industry certainly seems ludicrously volatile and cut throat, but is this simply a matter of focussing on the failed studios and not those that have survived?

I had high hopes that a Jason Schreier book about the collapse of video game studios would really educate me about the business of games and help answer the question so many gamers have: why are publishers both able and willing to routinely decimate their studios? Unfortunately, the book ducked this crucial question. This, in my view, reduces the persuasiveness of the author's proposed remedies; if we don't fully understand the industry's pathology, we can't possibly prescribe a solution.

Since Jason Schreier migrated to Bloomberg its been harder and harder to actually read his work (the media company has a rather high paywall). This book offers succour to those starved of such classics of investigative video game journalism as his lauded article on crunch in the development of Anthem and cements his place as the doyen of video games reporting. This book could have been perfected by offering just a little more insight into the "dark financial wizardry behind publicly traded companies" that the author mentions right at the end of the book as a driver of the industry's ills. Nevertheless, this is an extremely engaging book that any passionate game fan should read to better appreciate all the blood, sweat and pixels (credit to Mr. Schreier for that one) that goes into their interactive entertainment.
Profile Image for Павел Смолоногин.
Author 1 book94 followers
October 11, 2021
Шрейер взял глобальные истории нескольких игровых студий и размазал их по отдельным рассказам с позиции пострадавших от игропрома людей. Заметно, как автор не одобряет Кена Левина, но, знаете, пусть идет к черту, Кен Левин — гений! Вторая причина «тройки» — прозрение автора, который теперь топит за профсоюзы, за женщин в индустрии (типа, «ахахаха, посмотрите на фотографию этой команды разработчиков, у них нет в команде женщин, что за лохи!»), а к причинам нервного напряжения в том числе относят твиты Трампа. Твиты. Трампа. Кек.

Интересная книга, которая, как показалось, больше топчется на месте, рассказывает мало нового, «прошлая была лучше» и вот это все. Спасибо, что лишний раз упрочили мою любовь к Деволвер Диджитал.
1 review
August 8, 2022
O**********'u Electronic Arts
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
January 26, 2023
Важлива книжка для розуміння того, чому ігрова індустрія — це дуже проблемна галузь. Шраєр руйнує уявлення про ігрові ААА-студії як ідеальну роботу з високою зарплатою, потенціалом для творчої реалізації та печивком. Бо ж, виявляється, головна проблема великих ігрових компаній — це нестабільність, яка в будь-який момент може обернутися на катастрофу й згубити десятки життів через недбалість керівництва, нереалістичні очікування чи нові сумнівні тренди в індустрії.

«Натисни Reset» читається легко, наче якийсь драматичний роман — автор дуже вдало розставляє гачки, які спонукають читати далі, аби дізнатися долю всіх цих нещасних людей. Попередня книжка Шраєра більше зосереджена на історіях відомих ігор, натомість тут більше про людей, які стоять за іменитими франшизами, як-от Deus Ex, BioShock, Dead Space, а також абсолютно феєрична у своїй божевільності історія розробників Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.

Словом, якщо цікавить погляд на розроблення ігор ізсередини, обов'язково почитайте, коли книжка вийде українською.
Profile Image for Ignacio.
1,068 reviews201 followers
December 17, 2021
Jason Schreier vuelve a hacer lo que mejor sabe: reportajes de fondo sobre creación de videojuegos. Esta vez no centrados en la producción de un título en concreto, como hacía en Blood, Sweat and Pixels, sino en las vicisitudes de una serie de estudios que, por diversas causas, terminaron cerrando después de unos últimos años/meses disfuncionales. Como es habitual en él, Schreier tiene buena información y utiliza los testimonios que ha ido recogiendo para ir desnudando los motivos por los cuales se hundieron y los utiliza para ir montando su caso contra la industria de producción de videojuegos. Muy especialmente en todo lo que se refiere a las dinámicas de las grandes productoras y su manera de desenvolverse con los estudios que van acogiendo en su seno, pero también en las tensiones entre los apartados creativos y las diferentes estructuras encargadas en llevar a cabo su visión. A medida que se acumulan las páginas emergen una serie de lugares comunes que, con su reiteración y el verbo monocorde de Schreier, erosionan el interés, aunque siempre hay variaciones que lo recuperan. Más con historias tan marcianas como la de Curt Schilling y sus 38 studios. Una bancarrota que resume la otra cara del sueño americano: ricos que lían a inversores privados y públicos para que sean estos los que palmen la mayor parte del dinero.

El tema es que si Press Reset fuera esto quedaría como otro buen libro de reportajes. Sin embargo, como digo, va más allá y no sólo Schreier bucea en las causas. También aporta un capítulo con propuestas para evitar que se repitan estos casos. Señala un poco el camino hacia la mejora en la calidad de vida de miles profesionales, víctimas de un estrés continuo fruto de lo incierto y precario que es el trabajo en el sector. Y es aquí donde Press Reset cojea ya del todo.

Las ideas se agotan rápido, sobre todo porque las 260 páginas anteriores se han centrado siempre en lo desastroso y no en mostrar, también, alguna buena práctica de cómo se ha conseguido mantener un grupo de trabajadores durante un tiempo extenso sin caer en los vicios que denuncia. Además se centra demasiado en la industria que conoce y olvida que esta se presenta en una sociedad donde la inestabilidad, la falta de mecanismos de protección y la presión son el pan nuestro de cada día (mismamente en el sector educativo, aunque al menos aquí puedes trabajar en una zona sin necesidad de tener que moverte de un estado a otro según vas cambiando de puesto de trabajo). Una pena porque 75 páginas menos de reportaje y un poco más de ambición y pragmatismo propositivos habrían redondeado un libro mucho más provechoso.
Profile Image for Peter Baca.
3 reviews
December 18, 2022
Táto kniha bola pre mňa dobrá psychohygiena. Po ťažkých dňoch v robote si čítať o doslova katastrofických scenároch toho ako sa zatvárali jednotlivé herné štúdia a príčinách ich pádu prekvapivo pomáhalo pozerať sa na veci inak. Game business kniha vykresľuje ako jeden z najzaujímavejších modelov (aj po tom čo sa ľudia zapálili stále v dobrom spomínajú na prácu a kolegov) a zároveň najturbulentnejsích (extrémy ako ľudia čo dostali 4 výpovede počas 3 rokov a sťahovali sa tak cez 4 štáty tu boli na bežnom poriadku). Zaujímavé sú hlavne silver linings, ktoré sa začínajú objavovať vo finálnej časti knihy- prechod do neisteho indie developmentu, contract work, consulting work, práca s domu a hlavne potreba vytvárať herné odbory (Mike Monteiro by bol špecificky hrdý na túto časť). Good stuff. Prečítajte si
Profile Image for Oleh Bilinkevych.
259 reviews61 followers
May 15, 2023
Гонка корпорацій за збагаченнями вбила не один перспективний проект, який би міг стати в один ряд з найвідомішими тайтлами. Однак, це бізнес, і якщо цифри не влаштовують фінансового директора- тобі гаплик. Відповідно, ти можеш роками працювати над проектом, постійно кранчити, а одного «прекрасного» дня, все йде коту під хвіст. І байдуже , чи ти працюєш в невеличкій компанії чи у гігантській корпорації.
Рішення є- можеш піти працювати у незалежні інді- проекти, чи піти у вільне плавання під прапором фрілансу, але тоді про власну фінансову стабільність варто забути. З плюсів- нарешті зможеш зреалізувати весь свій творчий потенціал.
Profile Image for Junye Huang.
14 reviews46 followers
December 31, 2021
Before starting my current job, I wanted to become a game developer. This book reminds me how lucky I am for not choosing game development as a career. Not only because I was not very good at it and it would take a lot of time and efforts to get into the industry, but also because even if I end up working in this industry, chances are I’ll live a miserable life like the people covered in the book. There is endless crunching and regular laid off. My life is so much better working as a developer advocate. I can still make games for fun, sometimes even for work. And I don’t need to worry about working overtime or being laid off.
Profile Image for Tymciolina.
218 reviews61 followers
February 12, 2022
Kochaj to, co robisz, wtedy nie przepracujesz nawet jednego dnia w życiu. Tak mówili.

Deweloperzy, o których pisze Schreier kochali gry, były one ich pasją, życiem, wszystkim. Mimo to ich zawód wycisnął z nich wszystko co najlepsze, a potem wziął i porzucił. Branża gier jest nieludzka. Crunch i niepewność jutra to codzienność. Dlaczego programiści rozchwytywani na rynku pracy i przebierający w ofertach jak w ulęgałkach, decydują się akurat na tworzenie gier w świątek, piątek i niedzielę za marny hajs, pozostanie dla mnie wielką tajemnicą wiary.

Przykre to.

"Wciśnij reset" to książka przygnębiająca. Dla kogoś kto nie siedzi w temacie też przeraźliwie nudna. Właściwie nie wiem dla kogo ona jest. To raczej hołd złożony pracownikom zostawionym na lodzie.
Profile Image for Ekaterina Dolgova.
122 reviews4 followers
January 6, 2022
Very insightful: working in the gaming industry myself, I never saw this side of the coin - American version of it is much more cruel.
Was nice to see familiar names of people you know personally, they do indeed make a history of the gaming industry
Profile Image for Armand Rosamilia.
Author 251 books2,741 followers
September 15, 2021
I'm not a gamer. I stopped playing when PS3 was released but still cherish games like Final Doom and Suikoden. As a creative myself (author) I always find other creative people's journeys fascinating.

This book, however, details the negatives of the video gaming industry. The cut throat way companies operate and the mindless and endless churn of workers. It's an interesting history of a few companies, big and small, and the Curt Shilling story was especially interesting and heartbreaking.
Profile Image for Hots Hartley.
184 reviews8 followers
July 31, 2021
The book was a string of stories with little to no organization or structure.

Sure, there are chapters.

But there is no table of contents, no glossary or appendix, and not even subtitles within those chapters dividing them into clear, delineated sections. The anecdotes don't even flow smoothly into one another, jumping heads constantly within the same chapter without so much as a transition sentence. In order to read about the company or role most interesting to you, you have to slog through the entire book, front to end.

Here are the contents:

1. Warren Spector's journey: Origin/EA, Ion Storm/Eidos, Junction Point and Disney
2. Ken Levine and Irrational Games → Forrest Dowling and Molasses Flood/Google → Gwen Frey and Kine
3. Jordan Thomas' journey: 2K Marin
4. Zach Mumbach's journey: EA/Visceral, Ragtag, Crystal Dynamics, Airborne Kingdom
5. Curt Schilling's 38 Studios: Big Huge Games acquisition, endless fundraising, culture, Rhode Island
6. Ian Frazier and Joe Quadara: Big Huge Games (Kingdoms of Amalur) → Epic Games → Crystal Dynamics
7. Dave Crooks, Brent Sodman & Carrie Gouskos: Mythic Entertainment, Disbelief
Epilogue - Post-COVID World favoring Remote & Indies

As you can see, each chapter jams together several viewpoints and character shifts, and could benefit from more sub-sectioning to make the book more readable in chunks. Better organization of narrative and PoV would also prevent the reader from suddenly jumping heads and perspectives with no transition or warning.

Except for a brief discussion for David Pittman & Eldritch, no deep dive into programming, or the programmer. This is one of the most stressful, under-appreciated jobs in the industry, and yet none of the central characters or chapters discuss life from the point of view of a programmer, or a software engineer. The closest position belonging to a central character is a technical artist, or a Gwen Frey, but she doesn't discuss how she does the programming for her games. The book was clearly written from the point of view of someone that doesn't understand technology beyond the surface, like a news reporter or business person. There's no discussion about the difficulty of multiple programming languages, tooling like IDEs, switching between game engines like Unity or Unreal, and Agile vs. Waterfall development. If at all, the discussion always refers to programmers as an entire department, or team of 50-100 people, rather than deep-diving the programmer or engineer as was done with other areas, particularly producers, artists, and planners/designers.

Because of its story-driven approach, the book is not really representative of the industry as a whole. No examples outside the USA. No examples of small well-run indie studios, like a Gungho, Gumi, or Q-Games. No examples of one-man or one-woman shops (other than Gwen Frey's Kine, which received minimal coverage).

There is an excessive focus and blame placed on whimsical executive leadership of big companies capriciously starting/shutting down smaller studios, as well as startup-like studios seeking gargantuan investment funding before making a profit and growing organically. These problems aren’t exclusive to the game industry: any startup will fail if it’s bought and shut down by capricious big corp, or if it burns through funding faster than it can profit.

Almost no other business models receive any attention or page-time, making the reader skeptical that the book provides a narrow slice. In fact, the same companies keep coming up, like EA, Irrational, and Crystal Dynamics, in totally different chapters and stories, making the world & industry seem a lot smaller than it actually is. The writer could have done a lot better gleaning stories from across the industry. Give some other companies -- like some Japanese ones -- more page time!

This is the narrative fallacy at work: WYSIATI (What You See Is All There Is)

Hint: It's *not* all there is.

But there's a lot more to the industry, different types of cultures, and more positive stories that deserve more coverage, from the Concerned Apes and Stardew Valleys of the worlds to the Innersloths, Among Us, and even European and Asian game studios like Q-Games, TOSEs, Spike-Chunsofts, indies 0, Genius Sonority, et al. able to sustain themselves with better business models. By focusing in only on the negative, this book makes you feel like that's all there is, or that negative is the general trend. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, and needs to be balanced by more success stories.
Profile Image for fonz.
359 reviews30 followers
August 9, 2021

Historias de interés humano sobre los técnicos cualificados que trabajan en el mundo del videojuego y sus dificultades laborales en un entorno laboral absolutamente inestable en un país enorme sin seguridad social, es decir, si esta gente lo tiene jodido no me quiero imaginar quien curre en Walmart por el sueldo mínimo o menos y le larguen a la puta calle un día.

Lo malo es que el trabajo periodístico resulta muy repetitivo, hay una especie de prólogo sobre Warren Spector a partir del cual se introduce el núcleo central; Irrational Games, los desarrolladores de la saga Bioshock, alrededor del que giran el resto de historias de una manera excesivamente desorganizada y repetitiva. Además la investigación acaba resultando excesivamente superficial en su relato un poco manido de artistas buenos contra malvados ejecutivos, he echado en falta una explicación más detallada de las finanzas del videojuego más allá del ejecutivo avaricioso cabalgando la onda de beneficios que siempre tienen que duplicar al año anterior. En ese aspecto el libro es un poco inocente, incluso irritante; liberales americanos de clase media descubriendo el capitalismo norteamericano que los pobres llevan sufriendo durante décadas.

En lo que es el videojuego strictu sense, tampoco le iría mal a Schreier leerse el "Theory Of Fun in Game Design" de Raph Koster y profundizar un poco en qué es un juego, cómo funciona y porqué es divertido jugar, sus comentarios sobre los videojuegos dan la sensación de que posee un conocimiento muy superficial del tema.
Profile Image for Dale Furutani.
105 reviews1 follower
August 5, 2021
I liked Schreier's previous book a lot, but I loved this one. In this industry everyone has horror stories. I started in Edmonton at BioWare in 2008 right before the market crash, and after my two contracts ran out I had no choice but move to the other side of the country to take a new job. If my current job ever falls through, I'll likely have to move again. Reading through similar experiences from across the industry, you can't help but feel a sense of camaraderie, but also that we need to do better. Sometimes the lows lead to higher highs, but sometimes the lows are the end. It was also a reminder of just how small our industry really is. Often I'd be reading and come upon people a few degrees of separation away, people who worked with people I worked with, etc. And after just reading Masters of Doom not too long ago, seeing the overlap of many of these stories with the stories in that really pointed out the incestuous nature of this industry. A great read, and I'm looking forward to Schreier's next book!
Profile Image for Rick Wilson.
649 reviews228 followers
December 2, 2021
It’s interesting, but felt like the same story told again and again. Developer works for a company company shuts down, developer works for a new company company shuts down. Rinse and repeat
Profile Image for Rodrigo Zannin.
17 reviews1 follower
September 30, 2021
Bioshock fanboy writes the longest magazine article ever. I learned a couple of things, but the writing is boring and as many have said, quite repetitive.
Profile Image for Vedran Karlić.
210 reviews34 followers
May 21, 2021
Press Reset is a book in which Jason Schreier is telling the story about one of the problems of the video game industry - about losing a job. Or to be precise, to culture in which firing the people are the normal process that happens very often.

He tells this sort through 9 chapters and a much more personal story. There are also few names that you might recognize if you are following the industry, but they are not the focus. Focus is on everyday Joes, and how that affects them, financially and mentally. I loved the way some stories are connected, but I think on some occasions Jason is trying too hard to connect everything. But his writing style is still top-notch for this type of book. You can follow everything with ease, and you are free to make your own conclusions.

The sad thing about this book is something that isn't in the book. And that is cognition that all this is happening, that people are just numbers on some spreadsheet. How bad they can be treated by those in suites. And it's not getting better.
Profile Image for Sophia.
58 reviews4 followers
September 2, 2021
Ich schrieb es schon mal, dass ich es etwas schade finde, primär die Stories von männlichen Entwickler:innen zu lesen. Und auch wenn es schlimm ist zu lesen, wie es Entwickler:innen in den USA geht mit ständigen, großen Layoffs, liest es sich doch wie die Geschichten von zusätzlich sehr privilegierten Personen, die ihren Job teils literally dadurch bekommen haben, dass sie jeden Tag in der Arcade verbracht haben.

Die Stories sind (leider) nichts Neues, es fällt mir darüber hinaus aus den oben genannten Gründen schwer, mit den Personen zu connecten.
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