17
stackodev
38d

It began when I was tasked with creating a better and more engaging experience for our new Facebook page. This was in Facebook's early days, so there were not really any "best practices". We were making it up as we went along. I decided one way would be to game-ify things, since gaming, at the time, was a Big Deal on Facebook and people were starting to use it to build customer funnels.

Grasping for low-hanging fruit, I decided a Tetris variant around our topic would be fun. I had to hire a dev because at the time I was a static HTML web developer just getting into social media management. I knew nothing about game development or how to use Facebook's API for such things.

Long story short, we got about $10,000 (FB app devs came at a premium then) into the project when I came across a very recent article about the history of Tetris games. It said that even though Tetris had once been considered for all intents to be public domain due to it being created by a Russian coder during the Cold War, it had just been acquired by an IP protection entity that was charging royalties for any variant of Tetris created from a specific date onward and paying the original developer. So, even though I thought I had been thorough in my initial permissions checking, it turned out we were gonna be in deep doo-doo with licensing fees and restrictions if we released this game to the public.

I had to call my boss and admit my error. She was FURIOUS and really gave me an ass-chewing over it. I then had to call the marketing person whose budget I'd been slaving away at wasting. She was a bit more forgiving (her budget was in the millions). Then I had to call the corporate legal department and explain what was going on. They told me to immediately pay any outstanding hours, then fire the dev but not before getting him to send me all code and assets, deleting his copy, and then, upon my receipt of those assets, deleting MY copy so that nothing of it ever existed. And I was supposed to say _nothing_ to the dev about why he was being let go, so that there would be no "trail" leading back to this fiasco. (The dev hounded me for weeks asking what he'd done wrong. It killed me that I was bound and gagged by corporate legal and couldn't tell him.)

I was in so much trouble. I was literally in tears over it. I'd never wasted that much money in my life. That incident pretty much sealed my fate as far as any trust my bosses ever put in me again (not much at all). I was a bit of a pariah in a lot of ways for the next 5 years whereas I had come onto the team as a young social media rockstar at first.

After that, and a couple of other bad scenarios that were less my fault and more due to a completely dysfunctional management and reporting structure, they eventually "transferred" me to another team. Which was really just a way of getting rid of me by sending me to a department that was already starting to outsource overseas and lay people off. It was less messy that way. I was in the first set of layoffs.

Since then, I've had a BIG fear of EVER joining a large corporation EVER again. I prefer to work for small businesses now, even if I get paid less. Much less stressful from an office politics and impact of mistakes standpoint.

Comments
  • 8
    Yeah that sounds like corporate politics - punishing a dev because he was late in doing the legal department's job.
  • 3
    Why did you have to destroy all copies? Shouldn't it have been enough to simply not release it, and possibly reuse some of the material in a different game?
  • 1
    @electrineer The legal department did not want to play around with any possibility of getting sued. The company was highly focused on protecting its own copyrights, so naturally was keen on protecting others’ copyrights. Would’ve looked bad for them otherwise.
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