CD Projekt Red goes back on its word regarding Cyberpunk 2077 crunch

    
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Oh, this... keeps my feelings where they were before, really.

Crunch — the period of development time where studios enact overtime to get a product ready to ship — is a controversial and harmful practice that has come under increased fire in recent years. Last year, CD Projekt Red took a vocal stand against crunch, saying that it would most definitely, most assuredly not enact such practices when it came to Cyberpunk 2077.

But oh hey, look at that: CD Projekt Red is enacting such practices for the delayed Cyberpunk 2077. The studio’s head, Adam Badowski, recently sent out a memo to its employees saying that the team was in “overdrive” and would require all employees to work six day weeks until Cyberpunk 2077 was done. While the extra day will be paid, it’s mandatory.

“I take it upon myself to receive the full backlash for the decision,” Badowski wrote. “I know this is in direct opposition to what we’ve said about crunch. It’s also in direct opposition to what I personally grew to believe a while back — that crunch should never be the answer. But we’ve extended all other possible means of navigating the situation.”

Crunch has affected many titles that we’ve played, including Diablo 2, Apex Legends, and Fortnite. Some studios, such as ZeniMax and Bungie, have committed to fighting the crunch culture in the industry, while others just really want to launch before Christmas.

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psytic

No problems they get overtime pay. They know its a reality of the business. They accept that when they join that industry. They can always find another job if that’s not something they want to have to deal with. Plenty of other software and applications companies to work for. My industry has a peak season that I generally work weekends for free for a couple months of the year. I know thats the reality of the business and I accept it or I would find another job if I didn’t. These people have the free will to leave and are being compensated

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NecroFox4

I hate arbitrary deadlines. CDPR isn’t hurting for the cash that CP2077 will bring in, so why force the crunch?

Well, they want to maximize their profits by launching before Christmas, of course.

Money over people. CDPR is going the route of every other studio in history; fuck the art, focus on the business. It’s the recipe for mediocre games and an exodus of talent, yet it seems every studio does exactly this at some point.

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Dobablo

Crunch doesn’t give more productive hours. It borrows those hours from the next day.
Crunching might get the product released on time, but it is a bug-laden crutch that will need patching post-release to get up to a reasonable standard.

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feleran

Odd that a law even allows forcing it.

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Peregrine Falcon

I’ve watched this discussion about “crunch time” in the gaming industry going on for years.

As someone who was in the military and worked 12 on and 12 off 7 days a week, except for those days in which I also had to stand watch which was 18 on and 6 off, for months at a time, making less than $500 every two weeks for years, I have no sympathy at all for game developers who complain about crunch time.

So let me get this straight. You make 6 figures working indoors in an air-conditioned office making video games. No one screaming at you. No one shooting at you. Free meals. Free sodas. You can quit your job any time on a moment’s notice. And you REALLY expect me to feel sorry for you and your “horrible work environment”?

Adam Badowski has nothing to apologize for! Those game devs are being paid wheelbarrows full of money for the horribly difficult job of not ever break a sweat working at a desk making a video game.

Cry me a river about crunch time and their horrible working conditions.

agemyth 😩
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agemyth 😩

Adam Badowski has nothing to apologize for!

Even if you happen to enjoy the taste of your bosses’ boots you could acknowledge CDPR made the mistake of publicly promising something they don’t have the power to keep.

CDPR voluntarily approached Jason Schreier to publicly promise to do better with the idea that they would be held to their word. They wanted the positive PR and morale at the company that would come with making the promise and now they know they have to take the hit for failing.

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Peregrine Falcon

I don’t enjoy that, which is one of the reasons that I’m no longer in the military.

And you are right. CDPR shouldn’t have broken their promise to not have crunch time, but that’s a different subject.

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Dobablo

12 days on is tough. I worked through the weekend on occation and by the end of the following week I was exhausted. The problem with crunch not the numbers of hours worked but the lack of time to rest and recharge. A couple of weeks might be OK, but eventually you always running on empty and anything that gets produced will be substandard.

BTW, CD Project Red devs might be earning 6 digit salaries but that is very low 6-digits and only when looking at it in zlotys.

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Bruno Brito

I’ve watched this discussion about “crunch time” in the gaming industry going on for years.

Okay?

As someone who was in the military and worked 12 on and 12 off 7 days a week, except for those days in which I also had to stand watch which was 18 on and 6 off, for months at a time, making less than $500 every two weeks for years, I have no sympathy at all for game developers who complain about crunch time.

So…instead of directing your hatred towards the people who make those conditions for you…you direct at people who have better than you? Jesus Christ, man.

So let me get this straight. You make 6 figures working indoors in an air-conditioned office making video games. No one screaming at you. No one shooting at you. Free meals. Free sodas. You can quit your job any time on a moment’s notice. And you REALLY expect me to feel sorry for you and your “horrible work environment”?

Wait, six figures? I’m highly sure developers are not that well-paid. And no one wants you to feel sorry for them. What the hell are you on?

Adam Badowski has nothing to apologize for! Those game devs are being paid wheelbarrows full of money for the horribly difficult job of not ever break a sweat working at a desk making a video game.

I guess the people coughing blood on a hospital after days of crunching aren’t breaking a sweat. Just their innards.

Cry me a river about crunch time and their horrible working conditions.

Just because you developed some kind of Stockholm syndrome towards your old situation, doesn’t mean this is acceptable. It isn’t, and everything you said here just opens you as someone who understand absolute jackshit about the problem.

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Fred Douglas

Pushing your voluntary suffering onto others is very thoughtful of you.

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Rndomuser

While this is pretty unfortunate, it is understandable they would do this because unplanned issues do happen and it may sometimes be more reasonable to do such crunch instead of yet another delay, for reasons that may not be disclosed. In any case, employees do have a choice, absolutely no one can make them work against their will regardless of what the company may say (please don’t reply to me with “but this dude said it’s mandatory” unless you’ll try to comprehend what I have said).

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Bruno Brito

While the extra day will be paid, it’s mandatory.

I never understood how companies have the right to change your schedule like that. Like, i can’t speak for the US, but Brazil has work laws that define the timeframe that a worker can work. I think it’s 8h tops. Anything above it is overtime and must be paid, and can be refused.

“I take it upon myself to receive the full backlash for the decision,”

What backlash? The game will be a success, he and execs will get most of the profits. He won’t do half of the work that his devs will, and will reap all rewards, and he won’t get reprimanded for it.

Pffff.

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Arktouros

I’m pretty sure CDPR is a Polish company, not a US company. US companies go by a combination of the FLSA and various state laws.

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Bruno Brito

Yeah, my mistake. I still think that being able to mandate the timeframe you work to be problematic. There should be a maximum by law, and you could decline if you so desired.

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Arktouros

In my limited experience at companies with that kind of policy they’re usually upfront right off the bat about it. Like one company I worked for they were very clear in the interview what the job involved and that mandatory overtime sometimes happened. In the year or so I worked there it never occurred but I had heard from other employees it did before and people weren’t happy which is why they mentioned it as part of the interview process. If it was really a sticking point I could just not take the job.

Where things get problematic is more salaried positions where overtime isn’t counted as time and a half and you’re just expected to work any extra hours as part of your base salary. I see way more companies trying to get away with that kinda shit.

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Buchi Buci

There is a maximum, it’s 48hrs/week in Poland (in my country too), but you get compensated for that overtime and all is regulated by a labor law.

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Rodrigo Dias Costa

In theory our laws makes OT a voluntary thing, but that’s not how it actually works. Even the max 2 hours of OT daily foreseen by our Brazilian laws aren’t respected.

I’ve been working on IT for more than a decade and I’ve witnessed plenty of infringement of these laws, some forced on myself (there was a month once that I was working 14~15 hours daily, every day of that god-forsaken month). And as much as they say that you can refuse, they make it clear that you actually can’t, by denying promotion or even cutting off those who don’t do on the next workforce downsizing.

That sadly seems exacerbated on the gaming industry worldwide.

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Greaterdivinity

At least the CEO at least admitted to his hypocrisy in his email to staff, because that’s shitty.

Upside for the company compared to US based developers: Apparently Polish law mandates overtime pay. So while salaried US employees are making enough to be exempt from overtime (which is around a pathetic $40K for the exemption cap) and slaving away without any extra compensation, at least these folks are being compensated for the extra time they’re being asked to put into the game.

It was inevitable. The current development model at big studios all but necessitates crunch ahead of shipping a game, and it’s a model we’ve seen carried over to some online games like Fortnite or Apex Legends where you have developers complaining of seemingly endless crunch to continue supporting the games.

Game development as a whole needs a fuckin overhaul. I haven’t the foggiest clue where to start or how to do it, but it seems pretty clear from the endless forced crunch to the mountains of horror stories about abuse, mismanagement, crying in empty offices, and worse, that employees are being asked far too much of them.

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Jon Wax

Lowering the expectations and entitlement of the buying majority would be a good start.

Nobody acknowledged the part that gamers play in this

No pun intenderized

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Bruno Brito

Lowering the expectations and entitlement of the buying majority would be a good start.

Entitlement doesn’t push dates. Corporate greed does.

Nobody acknowledged the part that gamers play in this

No pun intenderized

What part does gamers play in this? Because outside emails and mean tweets, gamers have absolutely no power about deciding launch dates.

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Arktouros

I mean yes and no.

While certainly players don’t have direct oversight over publishing dates those “emails” and “mean tweets” are just a few of the avenues in which players get quite bitchy over things. Review bombing, publicly announced boycotts, trashing the company involved in any setting (email, social media, reddit, comment threads on websites), mass vote manipulation on related videos or content, the list is near endless at the steps and level of pettiness some people are willing to go to strike back at a company.

While I’d wager decisions like this mostly come down to other factors such as needing to hit dates for financial reasons (such as repaying investment into a project rather than simple greed) player reaction certainly is going to play it’s part in it. Especially at a time when most people are fairly strained due to other various factors going on putting stress on them (pandemic, election period, etc etc) something that should be relatively understandable becomes less so as a result.

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Bruno Brito

Sure, but review-bombing, mass manipulation, videos and such comes AFTER the game.

And let’s be honest here, CP won’t flop. It’s impossible to, unless the game doesn’t live up to the hype.

And i find hard to believe that this pettiness will have much impact beyond minor profit issues.

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Greaterdivinity

Yeah…but no. You don’t blame consumers for how a company structures itself internally, especially if they’re out there trying to brag about how good their internal structure is.

There’s just so much wrong with this comment I don’t even know where to begin, to be honest.

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rosieposie

But they’re a ‘beloved’ publisher, so this is OK. Magical hand-wave time.

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Jon Wax

Dollar says game sells like hotcakes

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Kayweg

“But we’ve extended all other possible means of navigating the situation.”

No you haven’t, release dates can be pushed back.

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Eamil

They’ve already done that. Several times. They’re almost certainly trying to avoid delaying it out of the holiday shopping season.

This close to release, a lot of wheels are moving other than just the actual work being done on the game.