This year, game players have learned many uncomfortable truths about video game crunch. If what happened on the Warframe subreddit in the runup to the increasingly MMO-ish co-op shooter’s latest expansion is any indication, we’re starting to see players push developers to take better care of themselves, even if that means slower game releases.
Tagged With crunch
Since our deep dive into the culture of crunch underpinning Red Dead Redemption 2, and how ingratiated it is throughout the industry, developers have been a little more open about the human cost of making games.
At Blizzcon this year, I took the opportunity to ask multiple Blizzard developers on how their attitude towards crunch, and how they manage it within their own teams.
When you’ve been reporting on a subject for a long time, you can feel when the winds are beginning to shift, and in 2018 it’s started to feel like game studios are actually having serious conversations about crunch. This week alone we have significant examples from two of the biggest publishers around.
Today on Kotaku Splitscreen we’re talking about crunch, a complicated issue that affects us all in a lot of ways. Work-life balance can be a tricky thing for many people working in all sorts of fields, including video games.
In the final year of development on Red Dead Redemption 2, the upcoming Western game, the top directors decided to add black bars to the top and bottom of every non-interactive cutscene in hopes of making those scenes feel more cinematic, like an old-school cowboy film. Everyone agreed it was the right creative move, but there was a catch: It would add weeks of work to many people’s schedules.
Yesterday, Red Dead Redemption developer Rockstar Games lifted its social media policies, telling employees they were no longer banned from speaking about their work experiences on Twitter and Facebook. The move has led to a number of current staff sharing mostly positive stories from their time at the massive game company.
It’s long been an open secret in the video game industry that the prestigious developer Rockstar embraces overtime, and a new quote from company co-founder Dan Houser about Red Dead Redemption 2 caused controversy this morning by suggesting that it took 100-hour weeks to make.
In a new elaboration to Kotaku, however, Houser said the quote had been misinterpreted, saying such a workload is not required at the studio.
Telltale Games employees were surprised when CEO Pete Hawley announced the closure of the company at a staff-wide meeting. One employee, a source told Kotaku, had been working until 3:00AM the night before with no inkling that the studio was about to let them and over 200 other employees go, leaving behind a skeleton crew of 25 to finish off work on a final project (Minecraft: Story Mode according to Variety).
Game developer Shane Neville is no stranger to crunch. He claims that while he was at Electronic Arts in the late '90s, he once worked nearly four months without a day off, averaging 90 to 110 hours per week making Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed. Eventually, after seeing the toll it took on him, he swore off crunch. He was wrong.
Crunch is one of the gaming industry's biggest issues. Devs work countless extra hours to get games out the door, wringing themselves dry of blood, sweat and tears for weeks or months at a time. It destroys people. Development studio Neocore was reminded of this when it announced earlier this week what it planned to do now that its game Warhammer 40k: Inquisitor - Martyr had been delayed.
There's been a lot of talk in recent weeks about fairness and transparency in the video game industry. On Kotaku Splitscreen, we speak with a studio head who takes things to the extreme, paying every employee the same exact wage.
Today on Venturebeat, game industry veteran Alex St. John published a hot new contender for worst article of the decade, arguing that today's game developers should stop whining about nonsensical ideas like, oh, "fair wages."
It's hard to understand what really goes into game development until you've heard the stories first-hand. For a long time now, we've been covering the cruel world of video game developer layoff cycles, but there's another element of game development that has become a horrifying standard: crunch time.