Metroid Dread has been a critical and commercial success, surpassing all expectations for the return of Nintendo's long-dormant franchise, but some of the people involved in its creation have begun airing their disappointment at not being credited for their work - criticism that developer MercurySteam has now addressed.
As reported by Spanish website Vandal, several former MercurySteam employees recently took to the internet to query their names being omitted from Metroid Dread's credits, despite being involved in the production of the title. "I would like to sincerely congratulate the Metroid Dread team for putting out such an outstanding game," wrote 3D artist Roberto Mejías on LinkedIn. "I'm not surprised of the quality of the game though, since the amount of talent on that team was through the roof. I know this first hand because, despite not being included on the game's credits, I was part of that team for for eight months."
"While playing the game," Mejías continued, "I've recognised quite a few assets and environments I worked on...so my work is there. Then, I would like to ask MercurySteam: Why do I not appear on the game's credits? Is it some kind of mistake?".
3D cinematic animator Tania Peñaranda also took to LinkedIn with similar concerns, writing, "I am very happy and proud to finally be able to see my work on the project, a job that I did with great love and enthusiasm! I am also very proud of the whole team!".
"But it also saddens me to see that I am not reflected in the credits for this work that I did," continued Peñaranda. "It has been hard for me to see that they have considered that it should be like this when I keep seeing a lot of animations that I made in every gameplay. Even so, I will continue to feel very proud of my work and very happy to see how people enjoy the game and the creatures that I had the pleasure of giving life to."
A third former employee, speaking to Vandal under conditions of anonymity, noted they were also uncredited in Metroid Dread's final release, despite having worked on the project for 11 months. "Not accrediting the work of the team that puts all the love in the project, and the effort," they added, "is a very ugly practice".
In a statement provided to Vandal, a MercurySteam spokesperson explained the company's official policy requires developers to have stayed at the studio for 25% or more of a project's development time in order to appear in its credits. "Of course," it added, "sometimes exceptions are made when making exceptional contributions."
As objectionable as refusing to credit employees based on a set of arbitrary conditions may be, MercurySteam is far from the only studio with questionable rules around crediting. A recent report by Kotaku, for instance, revealed a number of developers that worked on Bethesda and Arkane Studios' Deathloop had either been relegated to the game's "special thanks" section or were omitted from the credits altogether. More egregiously, "over a thousand" employees were left off Red Dead Redemption 2's credits.
Rockstar has, of course, been called out for its crediting practices many times over the years - over 100 members of the LA Noire team were uncredited for their work back in 2011, for instance, while 55 employees didn't make Manhunt's credits in 2007 - and the company admitted in 2018 that it's official policy was to only credit developers who were still employed by the studio when a game released, regardless of how long they'd worked on a title.
"That has been a consistent policy because we have always felt that we want the team to get to the finish line," Rockstar's Jennifer Kolbe told Kotaku. "And so a very long time ago, we decided that if you didn't actually finish the game, then you wouldn't be in the credits."
As VGC noted in a report earlier this year, part of the problem comes down to the fact that, unlike the heavily unionised film and television industries, there are no real regulations regarding crediting in the games industry, beyond unenforceable guidelines written up by the International Game Developers Association. And while that remains the case, developers like those at MercurySteam will continue to be at the mercy of their employers' whims.