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Crytek USA Collapses, Sells Game IP To Other Developers 121

MojoKid (1002251) writes Game developer Crytek's problems have been detailed recently from various sources, and it's now clear that it wasn't just the company's UK studios that were affected. Crytek announced today that it has officially moved development of its F2P shooter Hunt: Horrors of the Guilded Age to a German developer, ignoring the fact that the majority of the US team had apparently already quit the company. The problem? Just as in the UK, the US employees weren't getting paid. In a separate announcement, Crytek also declared that development of the Homefront series had passed entirely to developer Deep Silver. The company has stated, "On completion of the proposed acquisition, the Homefront team from Crytek's Nottingham studio would transfer their talents to Koch Media in compliance with English law and continue their hard work on upcoming shooter, Homefront: The Revolution. Both parties hope to finalize and implement a deal soon." It's hard to see this as good news for Crytek. The company can make all the noise it wants about moving from a development studio to a publisher model, but Crytek as a company was always known for two things — the CryEngine itself, adapted for a handful of titles and the Crysis series. Without those factors, what's left?
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Crytek USA Collapses, Sells Game IP To Other Developers

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  • What do do now... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    How about they release Cryengine open-source? That'd be awesome

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah I'm sure people who have invested in the company and would potentially want to sell the IP rights to the engine love this idea.

      If you care that much start a kickstarter to buy the engine from them and open source it yourself.

    • Which one? Star Citizen will be using the latest and is already crowd funded below 49 million so far. This game could the largest PC title next to Eve Online.

    • Cryengine belongs to Crytek, the German parent company. These are its subsidiary studios.

    • How about they release Cryengine open-source? That'd be awesome.

      It's not going to happen without the consent of Crytek's creditors.

  • Awkward (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @08:57AM (#47573543)

    I was reading last month's Edge, and it had a studio profile with Crytek UK that was written and published just before the word of non-payment started coming out. The angle of the piece was all "Free Radical had an awful experience, David Doak had a nervous breakdown and quit, but things are okay now" which was kind of heartbreaking to read.

    • Re:Awkward (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Joe Gillian ( 3683399 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @09:05AM (#47573579)

      It's not really surprising (to me, anyway) that Crytek is failing as a publisher. Homefront was the most generic FPS ever made. It didn't sell, and the reviewers barely had anything at all to say about it - though what little did come out essentially boiled down to it being a really mediocre game that was essentially the product of a marketing team (who saw Call of Duty and Battlefield and wanted a piece of that action) rather than people trying to make a good game. The same thing goes for Crysis, which was basically a graphics benchmark in the guise of a game (to this day, I've never heard anyone talk about Crysis outside of using it as a benchmark).

      The only people I really feel sorry for are Free Radical - I know they had a Kickstarter up at one point to get a new TimeSplitters out on Steam, and I think it got funded, but I don't know if it's coming out now. If they're still making it I hope they find someone else to publish it or self-publish.

      • TimeSplitters actually came up in said profile; I forget exactly what they said but it came down to "no, we're not doing it as a major release, and no, we don't think it'll make enough money to work as an F2P or niche title either". Given that was in an interview that was otherwise warily optimistic, I dare say its chances are even poorer now.

      • Re:Awkward (Score:5, Informative)

        by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @09:40AM (#47573833) Journal

        The first Homefront game was nothing to do with Crytek. It was developed by Kaos and published by THQ. Crytek merely bought up the rights to do the sequel. For the record, I bought and played through Homefront on PC. It was basically a mediocre and generic shooter based on top of some really interesting fiction. In the right hands, it could have been a much better game.

        And there are lots of people - self included - who will sing the praises of the original Crysis as a game rather than a tech demo. It's much smarter than the average shooter, with plenty of room for exploration and taking different approaches. There are few other shooters that permit the sheer on-the-fly tactical flexibility that came from Crysis's nanosuit.

        The game did make a few mis-steps - the quality notably dives in the final 25% or so of the campaign, once the aliens show up (the floaty section in the alien mothership in particular goes on for far too long). But overall, it is an excellent shooter which has stood the test of time far better than most others in its genre.

        Crysis 2, on the other hand, was crap. And Crysis 3 had a few moments where it was pretty good (mostly in the more open sections near the end of the game) but ultimately disappoints.

        • Re:Awkward (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {}> on Thursday July 31, 2014 @10:08AM (#47574053) Homepage

          The single-player campaign in Crysis was great, I loved it.

          The multiplayer utterly sucked. Crytek screwed up one of the fundamental tenets of multiplayer gaming - NEVER TRUST THE FUCKING CLIENT.

          Crytek did stupid shit like offload physics calculations to clients (which is why some matches were "DX10-only"), and also have clients do damage calculations.

          e.g. if the client said "I fired a pistol bullet and it did 99999999 damage before resists" - well, you'd have an instakill pistol. (This could be achieved by editing an XML). Similarly, armor resists were calculated ON THE CLIENT TAKING DAMAGE - so if you had a vehicle with 99% resistance to all damage types, you were effectively invincible.

          My multiplayer experience in Crysis was something like:
          1 week of playing legitimately - constantly getting my ass kicked by obvious cheaters
          1 week of trying to see what level of cheating I could get away with without people accusing me of cheating - it was shocking how far I could go in this regard (50% damage boosts to everything, no assault rifle bullet spread, 1000 horsepower pickup trucks, AA cannons that could depress their turrets by 30 degrees) without getting noticed because of the attention blatant cheaters received. Even with this, it was only a matter of time in every single game before a blatant cheater would instapistol their way to an attack helicopter with 99% resistance to all damage types and amped-up missile damage.
          After that I quit.

          • by antdude ( 79039 )

            Crysis 1's ending was great? :/

          • by mjwx ( 966435 )

            The single-player campaign in Crysis was great, I loved it.

            Single player Crysis was a very good game executed very badly.

            It had all the underpinnings of a good game. The gameplay and action was engaging, the controls were intuitive and smooth, the interface was easy to understand, the environment was a very active part of the game.

            After this it all went to pot. The story was crap, even for an FPS (I don't expect much of FPS, but Crysis was on the wrong side of terrible), the British guy was clearly designed by people who'd never met a real Englishman in their

            • by dskzero ( 960168 )
              I might just be the only person on earth that loved the second part of the game. I thought it was brilliant, fun and exciting. If anything, the parts that dissapointed me were the aircraft level and the final boss.
        • i liked homefront. i thought the narrative was well done and had some great set pieces. like where you fight your way through a walmart onto the roof, but a bomb goes off, so you fight your way back through to the exit but on the way out the walmart is a fiery inferno? that was pretty cool. my biggest complaint was that it ended early. the last level you cross the golden gate bridge into SF, but you never actually beat the enemy. I felt like it was missing the final act.
        • once the aliens show up (the floaty section in the alien mothership in particular goes on for far too long).

          Great! I just started playing and you go and ruin the WHOLE thing for me.

      • It's not really surprising (to me, anyway) that Crytek is failing as a publisher. Homefront was the most generic FPS ever made.

        Homefront was originally published by THQ. Crytek just bought the IP after THQ went under. It can hardly be cited as a symptom of problems at the company (apart from the decision to buy it in the first place rather than just make their own similar game).

        to this day, I've never heard anyone talk about Crysis outside of using it as a benchmark

        There are plenty of people who liked the original Crysis (at least the first two thirds of it). I'm one of them. It has overwhelmingly positive user ratings on Metacritic []. The sequels were less well received.

      • by vyvepe ( 809573 )
        I played only Crysis 3 and I quite liked it.
      • I really liked Homefront.

        The multiplayer was pretty awesome and the controls felt "like buttah".

        Also they had a really neat multiplayer gameplay innovation. As the number of people you killed without dying increased the game gave out more information about your location to more of the enemy team. And gave the enemy that killed you a bonus. Instead of a call of duty appraoch in which as your kills increase you become even more of a problem to get rid of,

      • I was one of the poor saps who preordered Homefront....

        At least I got Metro 2033 for free with it! Hell of a game if you haven't played it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I don't understand the last bit.
    Crysis and the CryEngine are developped by the Frankfurt studio AFAIK. As long as this studio remains, they remain.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @09:00AM (#47573559) Homepage
    now crytek cant even run crysis.
    • Imagine a Beowulf cluster of those developers, huddled around a makeshift campfire, dreaming of the days when they were masters of their own software universe, and wondering what might have been.

      2014 is the year of Linux on the desktop at the bankruptcy auction.

      *a black and white photo of some hot grits while a melancholy piano plays*

  • Is it a common thing for employees to stick around when they're not getting paid? I've read a lot of stories of software development houses where the paychecks dried up, but people stayed on holding out hope for a paycheck.

    How often do companies recover from a situation where they're unable to pay salaries for a period of time?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      i personally salute the dedication of these people to keep working on the product during these difficult times

    • Re:Not Getting Paid (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ledow ( 319597 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @09:23AM (#47573697) Homepage

      It was common in the 80's with software houses, looks like people don't learn.

      Sure, I'm willing to help out a company I work for that is struggling - that's only sensible self-preservation. But if you miss a single payment, and generally people are paid a month in arrears at least - then it means that I've worked a month "for free" already. If you didn't bother to notify me, I'm out the door straight away and will take you to court for that unpaid month.

      If you came and said "We can't pay you this month", I'd want to be privy to the expense accounts and financial arrangements that make it impossible to pay me. If you don't want to share those with me, I'm out of the door - and will assume it's because you've creamed off and are trying to not pay me, so will still sue.

      If you share those with me, and I believe that money is coming soon, there's a small possibility - in a firm that I really love and trust - that I might continue for that one month. And then that's it.

      Sorry, but you're not asking a personal favour, you're not being a friend, you're not helping me at all by forcibly stopping me paying my household bills for a month. I wouldn't ask that of my closest friend or family. For a company I work for? I'm out of there.

      Someone, somewhere, will be a willing scapegoat - no doubt - especially if you promise them shares, an executive title, etc. even if it's only going to last a month before they are up before a court explaining why they're the one holding the hot potato.

      A company that cannot pay salary is dead in the water. It will probably never recover. And an employee working for that company is stupid to think otherwise.

      Maybe, if it was a family business, and a close member of family ran it, and I was privy to all the information, and I genuinely believed there could be no doubt about the money arriving, and I've been kept in the loop at all points, and it doesn't go on more than one month. Anything else? Bye...

      • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @09:46AM (#47573897) Homepage Journal

        This, a thousand times over.

        Your employer is not, in most cases, your friend. They are an entity that you have contracted with to exchange labor for money, and if they fail to meet their end of the contract, you'd be a moron* for continuing to work for them.

        * Yes, there are exceptions, but they are rare.

        • i would stick around because i'm a loyal employee but I would also be shopping my resume like mad.
          • i would stick around because i'm a loyal employee.

            P.T. Barnum would be mis-attributed as calling you a sucker.

            But, to be fair, I have to ask - what makes you loyal to someone who fails to fulfill their contractual obligation to pay you for your work?

            Also, do the people you owe money to (utility company, mortgage company, etc) accept loyalty as payment?

            • If you're looking for a new hob anyway, better to hedge your bets at your current job (even if it suxxx) than sit on your ass athome
              • If you're looking for a new hob anyway, better to hedge your bets at your current job (even if it suxxx) than sit on your ass athome

                If you're looking for a new [j]ob, you wouldn't be "sit[ting] on your ass at home," because finding a job is a full time job in itself.

                What you could be doing, rather than sacrificing your time volunteering for a for-profit company, would be working a part-time job that actually pays you, so you can afford to pay at least some of your bills while you search for more gainful employment.

                Honestly, the fact that you present "work for free or sit on your ass at home doing nothing" as the only two options makes m

                • finding a hob is not full time. you're not volunteering you're working "at risk". If company pulls through you'll be paid arrears, but if things go further south you already have another option (hint: even if you leave, they still owe you for past pay).
                  • finding a hob is not full time.

                    Sounds like the words of someone who's never found themselves suddenly unemployed. Of course, from the sound of it you're content to lose everything you owe money on (house, car, etc) just to exercise some odd brand of "loyalty" to people who aren't holding up their end of the bargain, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

                    Oh, and it's "job," with a j, not an h. The first time I thought it was a typo, but you did it again, which leads me to believe that you think that's how the word is spelled/pronounced.

                    If company pulls through you'll be paid arrears,


                    • I think you need to read my post again. I'm "loyal", in that I'll stay around until the second that something better comes along and I'm outtie. I don't know what "enlightened" country you live in but in USA if you voluntarily leave a job you don't get jobless benefits. so you're not going to be paid either way. at the least you can do is sit at your desk and pretend to work while surfing linkedin/facebook. and yeah, I have been hobless and everyday i slept in till noon and didn't shower.
                    • I think you need to read my post again. I'm "loyal", in that I'll stay around until the second that something better comes along and I'm outtie.

                      Where I come from that's not loyalty, it's idiocy combined with opportunism. Why idiocy? Read on...

                      I don't know what "enlightened" country you live in but in USA if you voluntarily leave a job you don't get jobless benefits.

                      Like money, for example? So you know, even if you don't leave voluntarily there's a good chance your benefits will be denied, especially if your former employer is a piece of shit; Happened to me twice.

                      so you're not going to be paid either way.

                      Ah, see, now that's where you're mistaken - instead of plugging away for free (praying the whole time that when the company you're volunteering for does finally go tits-up, they don't file for bankruptcy and scr

          • Loyalty goes both ways. Messing up payroll breaks that bond. If you want me to be here on time and do my best work, you better have my money on time at all times. If you choose to disrespect me by not fulfilling your end of the bargain, there is no honor in staying.
        • by am 2k ( 217885 )

          Your employer is not, in most cases, your friend.

          Your employer is never your friend. If you have a friend you also do business with, you have to separate those affairs, otherwise it can get very problematic. I know someone who doesn't speak to his own brother any more, because they had a company together that went bad.

        • Videogame development houses are not like most places, especially not the smaller, more tightly knit development houses. I suppose nowadays you'd probably call them "indie" shops. Back then, they were just called "very small game studios". Most places you go to work because you want a paycheck. Videogame developers, for the most part, go to work because they want to make cool games, and the paycheck is an important yet ultimately secondary concern. If they were more interested in the paycheck, there ar

      • by Anonymous Coward
        I own a medium sized business between myself and my business partner. Just wanted to chime in and say the parent is 100% correct about when to leave and when to sue.

        For any business of any kind, payroll is #1 priority. If you can't make payroll, you have no business and your business is on the path to bankruptcy. Please, please, please do not let any company stiff you for wages. Anyone telling you that is standard operating procedure is wrong and trying to take advantage of you.
    • by stjobe ( 78285 )

      Is it a common thing for employees to stick around when they're not getting paid?

      In countries with stronger employee protection than the US, yes.
      The company failing to provide pay is not an implicit termination of the employment contract, leaving or not working is.

      How often do companies recover from a situation where they're unable to pay salaries for a period of time?

      Quite common where I'm from (EU). The company I'm currently working for had to go through reconstruction four years ago; for three months the government paid our salaries while the company negotiated with their debtors to cancel or reduce their debt. In the end we lost about 25% of our employees (some people left voluntarily,

      • by stjobe ( 78285 )

        Gah, that's what I get for not proof-reading. The company negotiated with their creditors, of course, to reduce or cancel the company's debts.

        Also, I'd like to clarify that the money the government paid for our salaries wasn't a gift; it was a loan and had to be paid back (and has been).

        • by whom? the company or the employees?

        • lol socialists. i love how you define "employee protections" as employees working for free. america is a right to work place so if you don't like it you can walk.
          • by stjobe ( 78285 )

            Now where did I define "employee protection" as "employees working for free"?

            Oh, that's right, I didn't. I even gave an example of how strong employee protection made sure I got paid even though my company couldn't pay me.

            In the example I gave, the government paid our salaries while the company negotiated with its creditors; the company then had to pay that money back to the government. I never missed a paycheck; the employees were indeed protected.

            Had the company failed in its negotiations with their credi

            • Had the company failed in its negotiations with their creditors, it would have had to declare bankruptcy and the state would have covered our salaries during the bankruptcy proceedings.

              Taxpayers like me would also have been out a lot of money to prop up a failing co

              • by stjobe ( 78285 )

                1. "Taxpayers like me" include you, me, the other employees at said company, and everyone else that pays taxes - the company in question and all other companies as well. The money comes from taxes already paid.
                2. The sums involved wouldn't make a noticeable difference to your taxes since it's split several million ways.
                3. How is protecting the employees of a failing company "propping up" said company? Either it's bankrupt and is going down, or it can recover and then has to pay back the money the government

                • It's better to pay unemployment while employees look for a job at a successful company then spend money to prop up a failing company
              • by Jaysyn ( 203771 )

                Seeing as Germany is the only country that has come thru this recession smelling like roses, pardon me if I take your opinion with a grain of salt.

              • Taxpayers like me would also have been out a lot of money to prop up a failing co

                Actually: No.

                If the government hadn't helped out paying the wages, most of the employees would have been out of work and would be eligible for unemployment pay. So the taxpayers would have payed either way.
                But this way the company could find a solution for their immediate problem and their employees still had a job.

                This is actually a case where the government giving out money helps everybody.
                But yeah, it's social(ism), so it's bad...

              • CITIZENS, not taxpayers. When you pay taxes its not YOUR money, its belongs to the citizenry.
          • by Jaysyn ( 203771 )

            That has got to be the single worst attempt at a straw-man I've ever seen. Did you even read what he wrote?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Development is going to continue in Germany, in Crytek's main studio.

  • What does this mean for StarCitizen? AFAIK their complete work is based on the CRYTEK engine...

    • The main German studio "Crytek" is still working. They are closing subsidiary studios, so I don't think it will immediately cause any problems.
    • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
      Chris Roberts and other CIG developers clarified this when the rumours about Crytek first started getting discussed on the forums. They have a full license to the CryTek engine source code, so even if Crytek were to completely collapse they still have everything they need to get the game finished. At this point they have already customised the engine so far that it's now pretty much a dedicated SC-specific engine anyway, so the worst case is that they will lose any future development into new core engine
  • The REAL problem is they spelled Gilded wrong. Who would want to work on that?
  • The problem? Just as in the UK, the US employees weren't getting paid.

    Who needs to get paid? Everyone knows software is free and there is no cost associated with creating it.

    Silly rabbits, thinking they should get paid for their work.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Developers pushing the graphics boundaries but leaving behind the gameplay and that's the problem. Once in a while if I have time I play the old consoles(emulators); nes, master system, genesis, turbografx16, snes, psx, n64, ps2, gamecube, mame. These are just fun. Graphics don't make a game good just look how the nes put the sega master system and turbografx16 to shame.

  • schadenfreude (Score:5, Informative)

    by Schnapple ( 262314 ) <> on Thursday July 31, 2014 @10:42AM (#47574291) Homepage
    As much as I like the Crysis games and Crytek's work in general, I've got a little schadenfreude going on because they were kinda pretentious dicks a few years back when they switched to console development.

    For a recap: they came out with Crysis (the first one) in 2007, and it didn't sell as much as they wanted it to. They blamed piracy. I'm sure the game was pirated, probably a lot, but I don't think that's why it wasn't selling like they wanted it to. It wasn't selling like they wanted it to because it was released at a time when PC's weren't powerful enough to run it. By which I mean, in 2007 when it launched it was literally impossible to run it at the best settings. Like, it was impossible to build a PC that could run it at max settings at a high resolution at a high framerate.

    And people knew this because they released a demo. You got a first hand look at how this game was going to turn your PC into a slideshow. So people didn't buy the game because they knew they didn't have the pipe to smoke it. Releasing a demo probably hurt Crysis' initial sales.

    And this wasn't unforeseen - in the runup to the game's release people expressed surprise that EA, who had been all about cross platform development or cutting off the PC, here they were releasing a game just for the PC which a lot of people couldn't run.

    So, the game didn't sell either because of system requirements or piracy or both. And again, I'm not saying the game wasn't pirated, I'm just saying that Crytek claimed this was the only reason it wasn't selling, and in no possible way could it be linked to the fact that they released a game which just told every PC owner on earth their system wasn't good enough.

    That's not the real dick part to me though. The real dick part was when the CEO said their "proof" of piracy was that the patch for the game was downloaded more times than the copies of the games that had been sold.

    OK, think way back to 2007. Hard as it is to believe, Crysis wasn't on Steam. Back then it wasn't a given that your PC game would be on Steam. Consider Fallout 3 was released in 2008 on disc-only, no digital services at all, and had GFWL baked in. Two years after that Fallout: New Vegas launches as a Steamworks title on Steam on day one, no GFWL in sight. The switch was quick but in 2007 it hadn't happened yet.

    So by that logic when Crytek released a patch for Crysis, people had to go manually download it. So I can see a shred of logic to the idea that if more people are downloading the patch than buying the game then some number of pirated copies are getting patched.

    The thing is, the statement doesn't make sense. How many more times are we talking here? I know back then I personally downloaded the patches a few times, usually after I would format and reinstall the game (this being before Steam made that sort of unneccessary). If the patch was downloaded 10x as much then you might have a point. But how do you even know how many times it was downloaded? The file was mirrored everywhere (I think FilePlanet still existed, etc.) did you add up all the downloads? Do all those services even give download numbers? Why are you not providing more evidence for your case?

    Crytek's CEO also lamented how the Call Of Duty games were selling more copies. At the time, Crysis had sold less than a million copies whereas the CoD game of the year had sold ten million. The CoD games which had the advantage of being on consoles as well. Disregarding the fact that Crysis would hit the 1M mark soon (and according to Wikipedia has sold over 3M overall as of 2010), the CoD game sold better due to better marketing and just generally being a better game.

    To be fair this was that dark era in PC gaming of the console games selling 9-10x their PC counterparts, to the point where some developers wanted to drop the PC entirely. However, if Cryek wanted to get into console gaming just do it, don't give us some sort of "you're all horrible software pirates" argument on your way
    • Unfortunately the people you don't like aren't the ones getting laid off.

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      >> in 2007 when it launched it was literally impossible to run it at the best settings.

      Sorry but completely not true.
      Admittedly my PC had a high-end video card and CPU for its time, but Crysis definately ran fine with best settings on my rig.

      As I recall, the larger negative issue about Crysis was that it was VERY buggy on release, and to make matters worse, the game was pretty much already old news and in the discount bins by the time Crytek finally started releasing patches for it.

      It seemed that Crys

      • by Zenth ( 3592427 )
        I think you're getting mixed up on when the release date was or what people mean by maxed out. The best graphics cards at the time were the Geforce 8800s and these definitely could not max the game out. You could go as far as high settings, but you'd still have areas of extreme slowdown and high was definitely not Max.
        • Well and I say maxed out but there's other factors like screen resolution. If you were willing to ratchet down to 1024x768 you could probably beef up a rig of the era to handle max settings. Plus this may have been before widescreen had really taken off so there was only 4:3 to worry with.

          Also, define "ran fine" - ran at max settings at 60fps with no stuttering or framerate drops? It definitely ran acceptable in some configurations on release but no one could max it out at a high resolution on day one.
        • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

          Thats exactly what I had. A pair of factory overclocked and watercooled (EVGA) 8800 GTXs in SLI.

          Like I said, it worked fine on my rig.

    • I got a nice email from Comcast through Crytek for downloading Crysis 2. I had actually bought it by the time they contacted me so I could do the multiplayer. Without that download I wouldn't have went back and bought Crysis 1 either. Dicks.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I actually did like the game, I was excited to play it and build a new PC to handle it. Starting the game and sneaking around with invisibility or super speed was a ton of fun. I felt outnumbered but I had a super powered suit to even the odds. I'm a simple guy with simple tastes. BUT, my problem with the game was the Securom DRM. I couldn't create an ISO and run it without my cd drive constantly running. I also hated that it was a PC game but then with Crysis 2 they went to console and gave the PC a

  • Not sure why that is. But they seem to be really REALLY bad at getting foreign employees paid.

    Maybe if they didn't raid their subsidiary companies like they were a personal expense account...

    I'm truly sorry to all the people who got screwed by this.

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"