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NLRB says devs at Roblox game studio Gamefam can discuss pay

After a complaint filed to the NLRB, Gamefam employees can talk with each other about how much they are (or aren't) getting paid.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

April 11, 2023

2 Min Read
Sonic the Hedgehog catching rings in Sonic Speed Simulator.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has said staff at developer Gamefam are allowed to discuss with their coworkers how much they get paid. 

Polygon reports the labor board's ruling concerned a complaint filed by programmer Joshua DeBoer. DeBoer filed it in January after realizing he was being underpaid by his work, and began to discuss pay with other staffers with similar stories. 

Gamefam, if you haven't heard of the studio, has developed several games inside Roblox, and is reportedly the first developer to ever do so. Its portfolio includes games for the popular social platform based on franchises such as Minecraft and Fortnite. One of its most well-known games is Sonic Speed Simulator. 

"People were definitely being paid very unfairly in comparison to me, by a noticeable amount," he told Polygon. He and Gamefam later settled, with the latter paying DeBoer a reported $5,000 in unpaid wages.

DeBoer alleged that at the time, Gamefam had retaliated against him for discussing his salary with CEO Joe Ferencz, who later put the programmer on paid leave. In chat logs reviewed by Polygon, Ferencz told DeBoer to decide "whether he wanted to be a 'team player' or a problem for the company" shortly before putting him on leave. 

Following the NLRB's ruling, Gamefam sent an email to staff saying it wouldn't tell staff that discussing pay amongst each other was "toxic or poisonous to the company."

This isn't the first worker-related controversy that Gamefam has faced. Towards the end of 2022, the LA-based studio faced allegations of crunch and underpaying its staff, along with abruptly laying off several staff members. 

Later that month, the studio released a public statement on Twitter, saying it "pays our devs equitably, and we prioritize a healthy, happy work environment. [...] We live and love for our teammates and our community." 

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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