Retro Studios, the team behind Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and the Metroid Prime trilogy, might be going through some hard times. According to a few user reviews on employer reviewer site Glassdoor, some alleged ex-employees of the former Metroid Prime creator paint the studio in a dismal light. Citing poor, passive-aggressive management, stagnant upward movement, and more, these disgruntled former staffers assert that the studio has lost its way and let go a good portion of key figures.
Four negative reviews (out of five total) on Glassdoor each have negative things to say about the studio and use similar words. One from 2012, another from 2017, and two from 2018 all have the overarching theme of poor management that has led the company downhill since its Metroid Prime heyday. One employee of five years even cited the Peter principle, which is when people are promoted to positions they do not have skills for.
Decent pay and general stability were among the few consistent positive threads. The lone positive review from 2013 said they enjoyed the management and “great teamwork environment.” However, the most recent review stated that “half the team is expecting Nintendo to shut it down and the other half is hoping.” Retro Studios has an average score of 2.2 out of five on Glassdoor.
A few negative reviews of a company don’t always mean the place is melting from the inside, but there are some factors worthy of considering. There is a consistent thread of the similar complaints throughout their Glassdoor page. The studio has not released a new game since February 2014 and has not announced what they are currently working on. Bandai Namco is developing Metroid Prime 4, which Reggie assures is going well.
Fellow Texan developers Gearbox Software, id Software, and Arkane Studios all have average Glassdoor scores of 3.0, 3.9, and 4.0 respectively. Nintendo’s other first-party developers are all based in Japan, meaning there is no way to compare Retro Studios to another team within Nintendo.
Despite allegations and a lack of new games, it’s impossible to say how the old Metroid Prime creators are doing. There have been rumors that they are developing a Star Fox racing game called Star Fox Grand Prix, but that has not been officially announced. If it exists, Nintendo did not reveal it at E3 2018 last month.