Development crunch is a hot-button topic in the gaming industry these days, and the latest studio to take a stance on the matter is The Witcher and Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red. The studio has “cultivated a reputation for crunch,” often “asking its employees to work nights and weekends for weeks and months at a time,” but in a recent interview with Kotaku, CDPR co-founder Marcin Iwiński details how the studio is hoping to fight that stigma through its “non-obligatory crunch policy,” which is basically a fancy way of saying that even when management asks its employees to crunch, they are not required to do so.
Iwiński says, “We’ve been communicating clearly to people that of course there are certain moments where we need to work harder — like I think the [Cyberpunk 2077] E3 demo is a pretty good example — but we want to be more humane and treat people with respect. If they need to take time off, they can take time off. Nobody will be frowned upon if this will be requested.” However, as Kotaku notes, even an explicitly non-mandatory request from your boss can feel, well, mandatory, and when prodded by the interviewer, Iwiński “wouldn’t promise to limit crunch to certain periods or offer specific numbers,” saying only, “I think this is the commitment we’re ready to make today, and we’ll be listening to people. We definitely open a lot of lines of dialogue here, and we’d like to start with that.”