As crunch culture becomes more prevalent in the video game industry, more and more studios are being exposed for their unhealthy work practices. Just this year alone, we’ve reported on numerous crunch stories, ranging from mild to outright horrifying. These companies range from Epic, to NetherRealm, to Asobo Studios, and BioWare. It’s quite common to see stories of terrible crunch practices and you don’t usually see the opposite. That’s why it’s a good sign that The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red is cracking down on poor working conditions and getting rid of mandatory crunch for its employees.
During an interview with Kotaku, Marcin Iwiński, the company’s co-founder had a lot to say about the issue:
We’re known—let me be humble for a moment here—we are known for treating gamers with respect. This is what we’ve been working hard toward. And I actually would [like] for us to also be known for treating developers with respect.
We’ve been working toward it for some time already. We’ve been communicating clearly to people that of course there are certain moments where we need to work harder—like I think the 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.
That’s why it’s a big deal that the company now has a “non-obligatory crunch policy” that will hopefully help keep its staff happy. Although, that notion doesn’t solve everything, it will hopefully help. After all, non-obligatory crunch is still crunch.
That’s one issue brought up in the Kotaku article, the fact that although something may not be mandatory, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. There are lots of social pressures in the industry that would make it so that you still have to crunch even though it’s not technically required. The idea of being the only person to leave at 5 o’clock would look bad and would push work onto the others who are staying later.
Still, this is a step in the right direction and it certainly helps set a precedent for the industry as a whole.