Cyberpunk 2077 is five weeks away from release and, with employees putting in overtime behind the scenes, a former CD Projekt Red employee has spoken about their experience of crunch within the studio.
Back in May 2019, CD Projekt Red employees were promised by management that there would not be mandatory crunch hours for Cyberpunk 2077. This promise from CDPR backflipped last month when a crunch order was emailed to employees stating they would be expected to work their ordinary number of hours a week, plus a day on the weekend.
Studio head, Adam Badowski, released a statement saying that he was personally taking this backlash upon himself and all CDPR employees would be fairly compensated for their overtime. Further sources seemed to reveal that many CDPR employees were agreeable to the crunch order, but new insight from Jason Schreier revealed that’s not exactly the case. Schreier asked CDPR employees whether they wanted to crunch in order to avoid further delays for Cyberpunk 2077, to which they told him that these conversations never even took place.
A response on Reddit from a former CDPR dev is where things get really interesting. The employee claims that the crunch order is just the start in a list of toxic behaviour from CDPR upper management towards developers. Apparently, devs were told that there was “no plan B” if Cyberpunk 2077’s original deadline couldn’t be met. This then changed in later months as Cyberpunk 2077 was pushed back twice, but the source claims that the devs were not told about the release delays:
“First a 2 month delay and then another 6 months of delay, and – to give a picture of how low the level of communication between the management and developers is – we found out both times ON TWITTER and other social that the game was being delayed, with a mail from Adam following few hours later.”
The full post can be seen below:
The employee also claimed the studio had been crunching since June 2019, with staff working 16 hour days on average. The note explains that there was a huge disparity between CDPR management and the individual Cyberpunk 2077 developers, saying there was little care for work-life balance:
At the end of the day it feels like CDP management is completely detached from the reality of us developers.
Schreier said on Twitter that he verified the employee was a former CDPR staffer and had “just got off the phone with them” early Thursday morning Australian time.
"I personally had a blast working there until they decided the only way to finish the game was to do the death march," this person told me. I've heard this sentiment from a few people. (I've also heard it said about Naughty Dog and a couple other game companies)
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) October 14, 2020
Crunch culture has been a huge problem for CDPR and similar game studios, with a game’s launch often prioritised over the well-being of workers. Unfortunately, this has become standard practice in the gaming industry, which is why things were looking up when CDPR promised to end crunch culture in its workplace. But this has definitely not been the case. So far, CDPR is yet to respond to these latest allegations.
Cyberpunk 2077 launches on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on November 19, with the game playable day one on Xbox Series S/X and the PlayStation 5. A PS5/Xbox Series X optimised version of the game won’t be released until 2021, but CDPR has confirmed it will be made available for free to all players.