Video game developers have dealt with forced overtime and other poor working conditions for a while, but more and more studios are speaking out against these unsafe workplace practices to bring awareness to the situation. One such company is Obsidian Entertainment, the developer of Fallout: New Vegas and the upcoming The Outer Worlds. The studio has stated that it does not participate in crunch, at least not in the negative way we often hear of. The Outer Worlds Senior Designer Brian Hines revealed that the developer keeps its employees in mind when making games.
Obsidian is not a crunch studio, which is one of the things that keeps people staying there for a long time.
There really hasn’t been a crunch or a death march or anything like that with the studio for quite a long time, as far as I can remember anyway. That’s definitely one of the things that as a studio we’re very committed to, we’d rather cut something than try and get people to not have a life outside of the industry.
It was revealed that employees at Obsidian are asked to put in additional time, with the key word being asked, but that it’s never forced.
There are many studios that have publicly stated the same thing: that crunch should be optional. The issue is, even if crunch is not forced by management, there can still be pressure to stay late at the office. No one wants to be “that guy” that leaves at 5pm, while other employees stay back way past normal hours. This can still create an unspoken tension between employees, especially if there is much work left to be done on the project.
This idea was brought up when CD Projekt Red, the developer of Cyberpunk 2077 commented that it, too, does not participate in mandatory crunch. It’s a complicated situation that doesn’t have an easy solution. As was noted during our talk with A Plague Tale: Innocence Creative Director David Dedeine, many developers are artists that “just want to make the best thing” and “don’t think about the time” it takes to get there. The idea is to do so in a safe manner.
Lots of studios are working on ways to ship the best product possible while keeping employees safe and healthy; a practice that is easier said than done.
What do you make of Obsidian’s comments about crunch culture? Let us know!