The issue of developer crunch has been coming up a lot lately, with extensive reports on the issue plaguing many major studios, including Rockstar, Epic Games, NetherRealm, BioWare and more. CD Projekt Red has been relatively open about the fact that it goes through ‘crunch’ periods during development. Now ahead of Cyberpunk 2077’s next push towards release, the studio has approached the subject once again.
Ahead of Cyberpunk 2077’s next showing at E3 in June, CD Projekt Red’s Marcin Iwiński reached out to Kotaku to tackle the subject of crunch head-on. As Iwiński puts it, the studio is “known for treating gamers with respect” and “would like to also be known for treating developers with respect”.
CD Projekt Red has a “non-obligatory crunch policy”, which has been around for a long time and is also in place at many other studios, including Rockstar. In the future, CD Projekt wants to push this harder, making it clear to developers that they don’t necessarily have to work on nights and weekends.
“we’ve been communicating clearly to people that of course there are certain moments where we need to work harder”, with last year’s E3 demo being used as an example. Still, Iwiński wants the studio to “be more humane and treat people with respect”, creating an environment where employees can take time off when needed without being frowned upon.
Ultimately, this is intended as a public message from CD Projekt heads to its employees. Iwiński wants employees to feel like they can tell management when the don’t want to or can’t put in extra hours without fearing for their job. In the meantime, though, for the final push on Cyberpunk 2077, there will be structured time-off. This means that developers will be asked to limit their time off to specific periods, like the summer directly after E3, or the winter towards the end of the year.
CD Projekt Red will be taking employee surveys to see how they feel about the overall crunch situation and will see about making changes accordingly. Most of the plan will already be in place for the remainder of Cyberpunk 2077’s development but hopefully when it comes to future projects, there will be more structure in place to avoid major, sustained crunch.
KitGuru Says: Crunch might not be mandatory at many studios, but due to the collaborative nature of creating games, it is easy to see how some would feel pressured into participating. After all, nobody wants to be the person in a group project holding everyone else back or slowing things down. Nobody seems to have a sure fix for this but perhaps we’ll start to hear about positive changes as more major studios focus on it.