Things get frantic at Niantic
Recent years have seen gaming studios face increasing scrutiny for how they foster their workplace environments. The latest studio to find itself under the microscope is Niantic which is responsible for the mobile AR game and runaway hit, Pokemon Go.
A lawsuit has been filed against Niantic by a former employee, and it claims that the studio has been systematically underpaying and undervaluing female employees, turning the workplace into a “Boys Club”.
What does the lawsuit against Niantic allege?
According to reports, the lawsuit was filed by an ex-employee who started working at the studio with a starting salary of $70, 000. Even after receiving a promotion, she learned that a male employee with a lower position was being paid more than her. By Spring 2023, her salary was $115, 000 but she was still being paid less than her male colleague. The situation was worsened when Niantic posted the pay range for her job title and level, and she learned that she was being paid $10, 000 less than the bottom range for her job.
It is alleged that when she brought her complaints to Niantic’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Director and Principal People Partner, she was met with hostility toward her “concerns about sexism or sexual bias in the workplace”. The lawsuit also claims that executives stated that she was given lower pay because she had voiced her concerns to colleagues.
It appears that this experience isn’t exclusive to the unnamed ex-employee. A survey was conducted by Wolfpack, which is Niantic’s resource group for women, and it revealed that many female employees believed that Niantic has “a sexist work culture that disadvantages female employees”.
The lawsuit has many aims. It seeks to ensure that sexist complaints from women are taken seriously and acted upon. It also aims to acquire monetary compensation and remedy the Boys Club fostered by Niantic. This involves ending the practices of paying women less than their male counterparts and “creating, encouraging, and maintaining a work environment that exposes its female employees to discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.”
Should Niantic be found guilty, the studio could wind up in a lot of hot water. Following complaints of workplace misconduct and sexism, Activision Blizzard agreed to pay $35 million to resolve claims. Though the accusations are damning, it does not spell the end for the studio, as it has the opportunity to change. This has been seen with Rockstar, which has allegedly left its fratboy culture in the past.