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Report: Rockstar won't publish Team Bondi's follow-up to LA Noire

Since the release of LA Noire news has been spreading about its development process, and it sounds like the game was a difficult birth to say the least. Not long after the game’s launch reports started to swirl about poor working conditions during the seven years of development. Until today those stories mostly only involved former developers angry at Team Bondi studio head Brendan McNamara, but according to an unnamed source, McNamara has other enemies to worry about: his former bosses at Rockstar.

In a story from GameIndustry.biz, a source identified as a former staff member of Bondi said, “I've heard a lot about Rockstar's disdain for Team Bondi, and it has been made quite clear that they will not publish Team Bondi's next game.” The source continued, "Team Bondi are trying to find another publisher for their next title, but the relationship with Rockstar has been badly damaged - Brendan treats L.A. Noire like a success due to his vision but I think Rockstar are the ones who saved the project. They continued to sink money into L.A. Noire, and their marketing was fantastic. Without their continued support, Team Bondi would have gone under several years ago.”

What’s most interesting about this is how it compares to statements Brendan made in defense of people’s issues with his management style. McNamara characterized himself as a passionate boss, and he often underscored how Noire was his game. "I'm not in any way upset or disappointed by what I've done and what I've achieved," he told IGN, which seemed to undermine the work of the disgruntled employee. Apparently Rockstar also had problems with Brendan’s control of the project, as the source said, “Rockstar also made a huge contribution to the development; their producers were increasingly influential over the last two years of the game's development, and overruled many of the insane decisions made by Team Bondi management. At a lower level, Rockstar also pitched in with programmers, animators, artists, QA, etc. Part of the conflict between Team Bondi and Rockstar was due to Rockstar's frustration with Team Bondi's direction, and eventually Team Bondi's management in turn resented Rockstar for taking lots of creative control.”

As this unhappy former co-worker puts it, Team Bondi management let down Rockstar to such a degree that instead of purchasing Bondi and adding it to Rockstar’s internal studios, the company now wants nothing to do with the dev, in spite of Noire already selling over a million copies. The source said, “It's also worth pointing out that Rockstar used to be very keen on making Team Bondi something like 'Rockstar Sydney' - the more they worked with Team Bondi management, the more they came to understand that this was a terrible idea."

In a series of internal emails shared by the source, Brendan airs some of his grievances with Rockstar, from anger at LA Noire not appearing at E3 2010 to hating the Rockstar-designed logo for the game. After venting to the team his annoyance that the Team Bondi logo was left off a press release, McNamara wrote in one email, “Every dog has its day and there's going to be hell to pay for this one. I'll never forget being treated like an absolute **** by these people.” (That’s the source’s censorship, by the way.)

With that kind vitriol on display, it isn’t surprising Rockstar would pass on Bondi’s next title, but with Noire’s success, doubtlessly someone else will pick it up, and that could be the real test. If what the ex-employees say is true, Rockstar’s influence saved LA Noire from disaster and the company deserves at least some of the credit for the finished product’s triumph. Meanwhile, Team Bondi, and especially McNamara, could use a financial and critical hit made outside of Rockstar to prove their quality as a developer. Unfortunately, it’ll probably be years before we see the results of this experiment.

Jul 5, 2011

15 comments

  • punkmetalmage - August 11, 2011 4:35 a.m.

    So I'm guessing there won't be a PC port. That's a bit disappointing.
  • Inthedistrict - July 7, 2011 2:16 a.m.

    Just wish I could play the damn game...first it froze my xbox, now it goes to the menu screen with something about a disc read error...
  • Spybreak8 - July 6, 2011 10:55 p.m.

    Yeah Rockstar, they're unlike any other and that's a good thing.
  • reaperman22 - July 6, 2011 12:11 p.m.

    I really hope Rockstar buys the rights for future Noire titles, it was a brilliant game and while i dont blame them for dropping Bondi i was kind of hoping they would just buy the company and fire the boss
  • Defguru7777 - July 6, 2011 1:04 a.m.

    I'm glad Rockstar doesn't feel the need to rely on LA Noire since GTA and its other games are so successful. Doubtlessly, some other publisher will pick up Bondi's next game because of Noire's success. But with so many apparently miffed employees, one has to wonder how its quality will be affected.
  • Higgins - July 5, 2011 11:57 p.m.

    Well I'm all for the end of the sequel-mania in videogames. Better not milk the cow dry for every franchise. Makes good games more unique dammit! That said, I wouldn't be surprised -at all- to see Rockstar use that face-tech for GTA V. Gimme!
  • tiben36 - July 5, 2011 10:37 p.m.

    like i read in another website, thats a very bad move to "TRY" to piss off rockstar, because theyre one of the best publisher in the industry no doubt rockstar will find another dev to make it a rockstar studio How about a Rockstar Canada guys?
  • mattersnotnow - July 5, 2011 10:21 p.m.

    I hope that if L.A. Noire ever gets a sequel or at least an spiritual successor, that Rockstar is the one responsible for it. Loved the game, would hate to see the potential wasted...
  • ChickenFillet5140 - July 5, 2011 9:49 p.m.

    Just finished L.A. Noire today, thought it was absolutely brilliant. I'm so glad that the talented guys at R* saved it. That McNamara guy can go fuck himself, he has no right to complain about Rockstar's involvement. They took some good tech and built a great game around it. If the accusations of his treatment of employees are true I hope someone organizes a coup d'etat and gets rid of that dick.
  • Z-man427 - July 5, 2011 9:29 p.m.

    That's legitimately disappointing, but if he's being that much of a chucklefucker, Rockstar is making a smart move by severing ties with Bondi.
  • DeifiedData - July 5, 2011 9:28 p.m.

    The best thing for the franchise is for it to be adopted by Rockstar - it has no future with Bondi.
  • BladedFalcon - July 5, 2011 9:25 p.m.

    I disagree, i enjoyed LA noire quite a bit. But well, considering all the controversy surrounding Team Bondi, I'm not surprised about this at all. For my money, I think this will be bondi's first, and probably last game. Still unsure if this is good or bad.
  • shadowreaper72 - July 5, 2011 9:24 p.m.

    Wow this Macnera guy sounds like a selfish and arrogant dick that need his ass kicked. Im glad Rockstar did away with them. Feel sorry that the devlopers of Team Bondi have to work under this dick.
  • DeifiedData - July 5, 2011 9:20 p.m.

    Loved this title, though now I wonder how much of the game's success can be attributed to Bondi and how much to Rockstar. If L.A. Noire is the game it is today only through Rockstar's intervention, I fear for the future of the franchise. If Bondi needed Rockstar to keep McNamara in check, perhaps their absence from the sequel will be painfully felt.
  • conchking - July 5, 2011 9:02 p.m.

    Honestly, the game was trash. I am glad that rockstar stepped in and stopped some design decisions because I can only imagine how much more the game would have been delayed and how much worse it could have been.

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