The ESA claims crunch issues in the industry have been declining over the past decade

Crunch – the act of putting in way too much overtime to get a video game completed and out the door – is a sensative topic in the industry and one that players often ignore as long as they get their games. But Waypoint made an effort to reach out to over a dozen studios at this past June’s E3 to ask how they are dealing with crunch these days.

Both Microsoft and Nintendo said that they were looking out for employees and their work-life balance as games near the crunch period. The Division 2’s PR handler stepped in to stop the line of questioning on crunch, even while Creative Director Julian Gerighty was praising the Swedish work ethic and the balance that he had struck with his work and home life.

And ESA President Michael Gallagher claimed that crunch issues have lessened over the past decade. “I hear more and more publishers saying—and they’re doing this for competitive reasons, for culture reasons, they’re rejecting crunch, and saying ‘That’s not how we operate.'” he said. “And that is an attraction for the best and the brightest to see those opportunities and make those individual choices, to go to those companies.”

Source: Waypoint
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17 Comments on "The ESA claims crunch issues in the industry have been declining over the past decade"

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Ittybumpkin

I know someone who works for a large developer and they still have crunch time. So it is still there

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squid

If it’s lessened, it’s because developers no longer care that they’re releasing unfinished, buggy games.

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Bryan Correll

Pay no attention to those beaten-down employees behind the curtain!

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Dean Greenhoe

Crunch overtime pay was awesome for me during Y2K. As long as it is voluntary for employees I see no problems. Work is good for the soul.

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Eamil

A lot of salaried employees don’t get paid overtime for crunch, and it’s too easy for voluntary to become “voluntary nudge nudge wink wink it’d be a shame if you had no upward mobility wouldn’t it.”

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Bryan Correll

Good ole Y2K. It’s amazing we survived what with all those planes falling out of the sky and accidental nuclear launches.

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Cosmic Cleric

Good ole Y2K. It’s amazing we survived what with all those planes falling out of the sky and accidental nuclear launches.

You kid, but having worked that time as a freelancer programmer, companies were scrambling like crazy, fixing code. It just never was visible to the public (the actual stopping of regular work and coding y2k fixes instead), so people think of it as a big to do about nothing. It wasn’t, there was really omfg potential there, it just all got fixed by midnight.

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rafael12104

The ESA? LOL! Second laugh of the day. MOP is on a roll.

How about showing us some proof, or raw data? Or is this all hear-say from the last time you got funding from your masters?

luxundae
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luxundae

So why *does* the European Space Agency take such an interest in gaming? :P

Mitzruti
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Mitzruti

gotta have something to do while you’re up there, right?

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Dread Quixadhal

Crunch time isn’t as important for games, because customers are used to products having bugs and being incomplete on release.

Back before everyone’s toaster was on the internet, game producers had to work their butts off to meat launch dates because once the Floppies or CD went “gold”, that was that. Patches weren’t a thing at all for console games, and were very rare for PC games.

Later, PC gamers had easy access to internet connections, and downloading patch files wasn’t impossible. Later still, PC games started shipping with “launchers” that phoned home to check for patches. Finally, consoles got hard drives and even they stopped needing games to be “perfect” at launch.

Now, studios still try to get things to be stable and fun at launch, but players seem to accept missing features or bugs. In some cases, features are intentionally pushed back to be a free DLC that shows up weeks or months later.

There’s really not much need for “crunch time”, unless competitors are rushing to beat you to market with almost identical games.

quark1020
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quark1020

I think you hit the nail on the head pretty squarely. At this point, the only people who need a crunch time are AAA publishers (or just EA) trying to push a video game movie tie-in just in time of the movie release, or people trying to release games based on the current trend.

Though, I’m sure there are a couple of City of Hero remakes who’s success will depend on who releases first.

DeadlyAccurate
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DeadlyAccurate

I have a friend who’s a producer for The Sims series, and he said overtime is very rare in his area and is considered a failure of management. I don’t know if that holds true for every part of EA, though.

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Zora

That’s one weird declaration… if anything with IT permeating more and more crucial business sectors, I’d expect crunch time to become even more commonplace across -many- industries with the specialized workforce stretching thinner and demands rises.

I’m all for PR but this is an odd one…

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Eamil

Games are mostly worked on by people that specifically want to make games. That’s honestly the biggest factor in poor working conditions in this industry – the fact that people who are passionate about their work are willing to endure much harsher working conditions without quitting, and big companies know and exploit that.

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Xander

It’s a really good read, and I hope more companies (and studios) acknowledge the complete negative impact that crunch is doing for their industry. As Reggie points out, there’s times when extra effort is needed but the company also needs to ramp up people and resources as not to burn their staff out.

ESA’s take is a really terrible one though. It’s only recently that the ESA as an org as even acknowledged the issues going on with terrible working conditions that some studios are facing. During GDC, their PR department were trying their hardest to quiet down the talks of devs forming unions due to labor conditions inside the industry. We really don’t need to look any further then what happened last week as to how studios are more willing to toss people overboard instead of standing up for their employees. :/