Cyberpunk 2077, one of the most anticipated video games of the last decade, has already been postponed three times. According to reports, employees at CD Projekt Red, the Polish studio behind the game, have been working long hours, including six-day weeks, for more than a year. The practice is known as “crunch” in the video game industry and is unfortunately all too common.
It’s also something that the leadership of CD Projekt Red said wouldn’t happen to the people who make it Cyberpunk 2077.
Video game developers rarely speak openly to the press about their work practices, but CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwiński did just that in May 2019. In a conversation with KotakuHe said his company considers itself more humane than its competitors. While for those interested in long hours, a crisis would not be “compulsory”. He called it a “non-compulsory crunch policy” and said it was something to be proud of.
“We are known for treating players with respect,” Iwiński told Kotaku last year. “And I would actually do it [like] We’re also known for treating developers with respect. “A month later it doubled, anything but promising
Shortly afterwards, there were signs that the Cyberpunk 2077 Project was in trouble.
In January 2020, CD Projekt announced the game’s first delay. The release date has been postponed from April to September. The multiplayer component has also been postponed to at least 2022.
“We need more time to finish testing, repairing and polishing,” said Iwiński, Studio Head Adam Badowski. “We want Cyberpunk 2077 To be our crowning glory for this generation and to postpone the start, we have the precious months we need to make the game perfect. “
On the same day, during a public discussion with investors, CD Projekt announced that it would ultimately take a crisis to get the game ready on time. This would be mandatory for at least some employees.
“Does the development team have to schedule crunch hours?” an investor asked, to which Adam Kiciński, CEO of CD Projekt, replied: “To a certain extent, yes, to be honest.”
“We are trying to limit the crisis as much as possible,” continued Kiciński, “but it is the final phase. We’re trying to be sensible about this, but yes. Unfortunately.”
Six months later, the game was postponed for the second time – from September to November. Iwiński and Badowski reiterated that more time needed to be spent polishing the final. The COVID-19 pandemic was at least partially to blame.
“The last few months are always the biggest hurdle, so these are always the most important months,” they wrote, “and we know that from our past experience. We have been there a couple of times in the past and of course this is the first time we have done this remotely so we learn as we go – but that’s as much as I can tell. “
In September, Bloomberg reiterated what CD Projekt executives had told investors months ago. A leaked email called for six working days. Crunch had become a requirement, and according to anonymous staff, some developers had been working nights and weekends for “more than a year.”
In other words, delays do not bring relief to workers. Often it simply means working at the same strenuous pace for weeks or months.
But the story doesn’t stop there. CD Projekt announced this in October Cyberpunk 2077
The move has undoubtedly prolonged the crisis that CD Projekt employees had to face.
It cannot be a mistake that the practice of crunch is destructive. It’s a fact that those in and outside the industry have recognized for decades. People have not been made to work these types of hours, and the real cost of the crisis can be measured in the physical and mental health of those on whom they are forced – and their families too. CD Projekt claims to be a progressive company and claims that the employees will benefit from the success of the game they are a part of. Badowski says employees will share in the profits of CD Projekt in 2020.
But let’s not gloss it over: crunch is cruel. It’s the result of poor management and evidence of a disregard for the people who work to make the games we love to play. Crunch on this scale and casts a shadow for this duration Cyberpunk 2077 – and actively undermine some of the progressive and cautionary themes that are undoubtedly present in the game itself.