Snail Games under legal fire…

Snail Games USA, well known for bringing its MMO hit, Age of Wushu, to the Americas in 2013 is currently being sued by its former Director of Game Operations, David Runyan. Snail Games is one of China’s first companies to bring rich, 3D gaming to the mass market whilst costing the gamer absolutely nothing to get up and running. It seems, however, that the ones truly paying the price for its blockbuster titles are the company’s employees under leader, Mr. Shi Hai.

During Mr. Runyan’s employment, Shi Hai apparently accused David Runyan of faking a work-related injury. Mr. Runyan had to work from home for two weeks while a back injury healed. But Mr, Shi Hai was so upset about Runyan claiming to be injured that he voiced his displeasure by sending Runyan a hostile email. In the e-mail, She Hai calls Runyan an abnormality to the typical American employee for allegedly lying about his injuries. The e-mail goes on to call Runyan a “liar” and terminates his employment. Runyan’s lawsuit also claims that Shi Hai showed blatant distrust of non-Chinese employees, including Mr. Runyan himself, who is white. Cleary, Mr. Shi Hai has not been using his Wushu powers for good as Runyan his since filed a lawsuit for, among other things, wrongful termination and discrimination on the basis of race, ancestry and ultimately physical disability, all of which are very serious claims.

Word on the street is Mr Hai intends on making Snail Games biggest hit, Age of Wushu, more accessible to the U.S gaming community. However starting that quest with a discriminatory case against one of its own creators is clearly not the way to win over your new target audience. Mr Shi Hai is no stranger to the spotlight and Runyan’s lawsuit even mentions how Hai tends to treat major game conferences such as E3 as a personal celebration worthy of rockstar status. Runyan’s lawsuit gives us a glimpse into life working for Shi Hai at Snail Games USA. “Difficult” and “volatile” are two of the words used to describe Mr. Shi Hai as a boss. Additionally, Runyan’s case claims that working for Shi Hai leaves employees vulnerable to snap judgements on major decisions based on pure emotion instead of sound business practices and what is best for the company. Apparently, executives are not immune to this sort of treatment either as it seems they come and go at an alarming rate at Snail Games USA. High turnover at upper levels of management is indicative of a system that is either broken or manipulated by a leader who seems to think that he is invincible. Snail Games USA also seems to be notorious for going dark when it comes to supporting its customers who have filed equests and or inquiries regarding account lockouts and access and can be seen by the numerous complaints filed online to BBB like websites by frustrated gamers who have zero access to their accounts sometimes containing e-funds paid for with actual money which then becomes a very serious issue. Common to Google results are Age of Wushu customers complaining of questionable practices of Snail games regarding their financial information such as not being able to remove their credit card information once its used initially seeing as it is in fact very difficult to actually play Age of Wushu without shelling out cold hard cash which leaves many games frustrated. Mr Hai would be wise to reconsider his current business practices here in the West should he really intend to win over the hearts of his Western followers.

The lawsuit documents can be viewed via this link

* Image copyright and courtesy of Chinagame.178.com

** Mr. Runyan’s case is pending in the Los Angeles Superior Court. I obtained of copy of the Complaint. E-mail me if you would like a copy. The lawsuit notes that Mr. Runyan is represented by employment attorney Janeen Carlberg who declined to comment “at this early stage of the proceedings.”