Games Workshop, creator and publisher of games and other products in the Warhammer 40,000 setting, has had an excellent go around with its video game releases these past few years. The latest, Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, seems to have a full head of steam with reviews and impressions pouring in filled with positive notes. Meanwhile, standout titles like Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Demonhunters and Warhammer 40,000: Darktide have likewise made a name for themselves in their respective genres. But all three games have done so without directly crediting workers at the Nottingham-based company who actually do the work.
It’s a tendency that Nazih Fares, head of localization at game developer The 4 Winds Entertainment, would like to see changed. He’s an elected member of the board of directors of the International Game Developers Association and the vice chair of its Game Credits Special Interest Group (SIG), which published updated guidelines for crediting developers earlier this year.
Case in point is the credits page for Rogue Trader, available from the start menu when you fire up a game. Virtually every member of Owlcat Studios who got a hand on the ball is mentioned on its tab. Same for the outsource CGI and animation studios. Even middleware developers got to name individuals from their companies for their contributions. But here’s what you’ll find when you click on the Games Workshop tab of that page.
Roughly the same is true for Chaos Gate and Darktide, two other games that rely heavily on content created by employees at Games Workshop and licensed to video game developers. Neither game directly credits anyone by name at Games Workshop. It might make sense when you cast an eye toward the cold realities of intellectual property rights; maybe nobody at Games Workshop had anything substantive to do with the project. But that can’t be said of Creative Assembly’s Total War: Warhammer 3, a game that now includes two all-new factions that were designed from the ground up with the help of designers in Nottingham.
So what gives? Fares explained that crediting in games is rife with inequality, and that inequality works against younger workers and workers in the Global South — especially those in quality assurance, outsourcing, and localization. But even in developed countries, studios large and small are used to doing things their own way. Back when he worked at Blizzard, Fares said, practically anyone who worked inside the building was in the credits, including the Starbucks barista in the lobby. Meanwhile, Valorant makers Riot Games do things very much like Games Workshop has done here, crediting the entire organization in one go — even on first-party titles.
“I don’t think it’s right,” Fares said, “but I’m also thinking [how, from] a project management point of view, it would be hell to even recount every single person that has left, that is still there, that has been promoted, et cetera, to do a proper attribution and listing of these names that are working at Games Workshop.”
Owlcat confirmed to Polygon that the page of credits attributed Games Workshop appears as requested by the company in the final game. Polygon reached out to multiple parties at Games Workshop for comment but no response was offered prior to publication.
Fares said that having a big IP on your resume, whether it’s the Warcraft IP, a Disney IP, or a Games Workshop IP, can help developers along in their careers. But studios all around the world have very different guidelines for how they credit their teams. He said that some studios withhold credits for another reason: to prevent other studios from poaching their talent.
The IGDA’s latest guidance, a document titled Game Crediting Guide 10.1, includes updated guidance for dealing with licensed games as well as live service games, a genre that simply didn’t exist when the document was last revised in 2014. It’s available as a free download and serves as a resource for developers looking for more robust crediting policies.
At the end of the day however, workers have very little control on how or even if they are credited for their work in video games. Fares said union representation, such as the way SAG-AFTRA members’ credits are contractually protected, would go a long way toward enforcing some kind of standardization in the industry.