A long report published by Kotaku revealed that the development of State of Decay 3 has faced many difficulties. Internal reports indicate that the responsible studio, Undead Labs, has management issues and machismo.
Development of the game began in late 2018. In June of that year, Microsoft had announced its purchase of the studio. The title’s official announcement was made in 2020, but the developers believed it was too soon and that, at that point, Undead Labs “didn’t even know what the game was going to be”.
The report also talks about cases of machismo and failures of the studio’s human resources department. The reports indicate cases of developers being ignored or taking all the blame during meetings, in addition to hearing sexist statements. Although etiquette rules were established, the issues were not resolved.
“We were afraid that they would come and change our culture”, says one of the reports. “but our collapse had internal causes and we could have received help .”
A very unpopular change within the development team was the change of studio head. Jeff Strain, one of the founders, was leading Undead Labs in 2018 and insisted that they would remain independent. The purchase announcement came as a surprise to most of the development team, but Strain was still popular, known for his inspirational speeches.
Officially, he did not leave the studio until the end of 2019, but he was already absent from the work routine before that. In 2020, Strain was replaced by Philip Holt, who previously worked at ArenaNet, as studio head. This change caused problems, as did the alleged inefficiency of the new head of human resources, Anne Schlosser.
In mid-2021, after many public complaints, Microsoft decided to act. Schlosser left his job in September, but that didn’t stop many others from leaving Undead Labs.
Holt’s plans for State of Decay 3’s internal demos ran into trouble, and the lack of direction caused employees to demand a change in plans. Currently, part of the developers considers that the problems have already been turned, but another part remains skeptical about the future of the project.
In response to the report, Holt said: