Up For Debate - Would you boycott a game if developers are forced to crunch?

Written by Arnhawl on Sat, Jan 25, 2020 12:05 PM
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It’s been a rollercoaster week or so for CD Projekt Red after they announced Cyberpunk 2077 would be delayed to September 2020, instead of their initial release date of April 16. They aren't alone either, with fellow Polish devs Techland announcing Dying Light 2 has slipped to an undisclosed date.

I was initially thrilled that this would give CDPR and their development team breathing room to complete and polish what is hoped to be one of the best RPGs of all time. No pressure. But, Projekt Red curiously also added that their developers would still be 'required' to put in crunch time, working overtime to meet the September deadline despite the five-month delay.

This raises an interesting thought: Am I still comfortable buying Cyberpunk 2077 when knowing the devs have crunched to get it complete? I know from previous games that crunch can often impact the mental and physical wellbeing of workers. 

One developer mentioned after GTA V was delayed three times, he was forced to work an extra six months of overtime in the same period of time, which seems excessive and straining on the developer. 

For those of us outside the development bubble it can be difficult to picture what crunch even is. We’ve all worked long hours and had tough weeks at some time or another, but development crunch has spawned reports of 90-hour+ work weeks for months on end. Of sleeping under desks; of a complete lack of social lives, or even missing their children’s entire childhood while coding away on a $300m project. It’s the sheer length of the thing which tends to grind developers down, a seemingly endless slog with precious little reward outside of the elusive ‘prestige’.

It puts me in a difficult situation. I could decide to boycott companies that exercise this practice - By not buying the game, I’m making a conscious effort to say “No, this is wrong”. But, on the other hand, by not buying the game, I devalue the work (and extra work) the developers have put in. 

If we all collectively decided not to play Cyberpunk 2077 and it completely flopped, the time, effort and strain the developers put in would be for nothing - it would be a true waste of time and energy. 

So what’s the alternative? In a way, the environment that leads to crunch culture is unavoidable. There will always be a squeeze to get a game out for its intended release date, but I think the way this is managed could help greatly. 

Instead of making it feel as if overtime is mandatory, make it truly optional. Support the developers by offering them time off if they need it, or options to work at their own pace. 

And most importantly, delay if needed - most people would rather a good, polished game than a rushed, buggy mess, and the extra development time would definitely help the developers and improve the end product for the player.

Would you boycott a game if developers are forced to crunch?

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15:22 Jan-27-2020

Every company should provide its employees with regular health checks and take responsibility of the results. I'm a game dev student and I already see some people pushing it too far for projects due to the game dev mindset of having to get the best result on time.

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15:25 Jan-27-2020

If a game gets delayed the problem is not for the players or devs but rather for the company itself. Specially if crunch is not payed, the only people losing something are investors. Devs get the same paycheck. Of curse if a company bankrupt like telltale did it's another story but that's again managers fault.

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15:29 Jan-27-2020

Some games nowadays are too big of a project to finish it on time to make the company work, they have to find a way to manage it differently. Like splitting the content and get it added during the lifespan so that they can get some money while in development. Or using better tools. Actual devs have no control over it.

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15:33 Jan-27-2020

I know that every student and professional has to put sweat, blood and tears in their tasks but when we are talking about entertainment industry is always only a matter of money.
Maybe laws to guarantee good working conditions are a solution. Boycotting games makes no sense.

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18:00 Jan-26-2020

Im sure factory workers in asia who make our smartphones have the best working conditions.

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09:49 Jan-27-2020

We both know that isn't the case.
Heard about The Fairphone as an alternative, but the specs aren't the best for the price they're asking.

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15:27 Jan-26-2020

Since this topic is very serious, I'll leave a video here and post the video in a shout so that people become aware of the business practices in the game industry.


Link

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08:18 Jan-27-2020

Bobby doesn't care

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09:47 Jan-27-2020

I do tho.
Btw, check your wall.

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07:31 Jan-26-2020

Only if that crunch is a result of exploitation will I hold an issue to the company. As long as the employees are willing to put in the time and are rewarded for their time allocated to the project.

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03:07 Jan-26-2020

I have mothing against crunch or delays, but if the final product is not 10/10 i will bycott, specially on a game that was announced almost 8 years ago.

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02:24 Jan-26-2020

Depends on entirely how long the crunch is. I've worked several jobs and EVERY project has some kind of crunch. A month, maybe 3, I think that's kinda fine. Doing what some devs do with a solid year and a half of crunch? Absolutely not.

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23:00 Jan-25-2020

For most part no, whole crunch is more what media and Schreier are pushing hard. And while I wouldn't be opposed to boycott the game with slave like excessive crunch, like one EA had with Bioware, because that really was a way too far, I also wouldn't boycott games for reasonable amount of crunch. Because truth is, there are plenty of jobs where working overtime is normal and part of it.

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23:02 Jan-25-2020

And with creative projects, there is very often crunch at the end. It just is nature of deadlines. Without them nothing would ever get done and with them, you might need to do bit of crunching. But as said, there is difference between inhumane amount of crunch and bit of crunch last few months to get the game out. And with CD Projekt Red for example, just because they are so open about it,...

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23:05 Jan-25-2020

... I doubt they will have people crunch a way too hard. And before anyone asks, yes, I had to crunch where I work too, whenever we had increased amount of work. But it wasn't inhumane amount and I understood that I would have to do it before I started working there. But I do think Schreier and media in some cases are just overdoing it with reports about crunch,...

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23:07 Jan-25-2020

... to where instead of bringing us information about the game itself, they only are asking about crunch. And while yes, it is nice to point extremes out and cause some change. I just don't think crunch is entirely avoidable.

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17:36 Jan-25-2020

THEY CAN RELEASE THEIR GAME WHENEVER THEY WANT,,, AND UNLIKE EA THEY WONT FORCE DEVS TO RELEASE UNFINISHED CRAP FOR MONEY.. WE ALL WANT BETTER GAMES SO ITS WORTH A WAIT

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15:25 Jan-26-2020

Respect

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14:48 Jan-25-2020

Why would we punish the developer because they had to crunch? It's like completely sidestepping the fact that boycotting a game will impact everyone involved and just make it worse :/

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14:47 Jan-25-2020

There's another question here.
How would you know if crunch was involved in making a game without companies, or devs mentioning it?


Cause I honestly don't believe 99.999% of players research that prior to buying a game.

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17:10 Jan-25-2020

And unlike most devs they actually get paid for their crunch. They did admit it while most games industry would hide it(crunch) in the closet.

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15:20 Jan-26-2020

I'll leave a video here about crunch, and how 800 people got axed even tho the game company had huge profits.
I would have to write an article the size of Dictionary to say everything I think on the issue and this is a faster way to get the msg across.


The dangers of being a game dev

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13:43 Jan-25-2020

People are angry and dissatisfied because publishers rushing their products launch, and there are too many bugs, glitches and other negative stuff left in unfinished game. Then, same gamers angry because devs postpone their games launch date. People literally have no idea what they want anymore.
I'd say it's always better to wait longer to get fully finished product, rather than get tons of patches because game was rushed.

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13:39 Jan-25-2020

It is better to have a game that can be played completely with minimal bugs, than to have a RUSHED Games which not only isn't playable for hours. It will have lots of bugs.

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15:24 Jan-26-2020

I agree on the quality side, the question is who is investing the time to make that happen, and under what conditions?

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13:29 Jan-25-2020

Hell no.. in many, professions times of working ridiculous hours of overtime are rather normal, be it the building industry, machine engineering or software developement. But obviously anything as crazy as 90+ hour weeks is unacceptable and no company should even allow that.

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15:47 Jan-25-2020

Ever heard of healthcare (doctor, nurse) working hours.

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15:23 Jan-26-2020

I have, but it doesn't make it humane.
Also the risk of a mistake happening when a person has those insane work hours goes up exponentially, and in healthcare the stakes are as high as they can possibly be.

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