Outer Wilds was no doubt one of 2019’s most talked-about games. Whether you attribute this to healthy work conditions or not, it’s clear the game benefited from being included on Xbox Game Pass, a subscription-based service that offers a large selection of games for a monthly fee. Mobius Digital’s co-creative lead Loan Verneau, who also prides Mobius on “not crunching,” feels that subscription-based services will have a positive impact on the games industry, as evidenced by Outer Wilds‘ inclusion on Xbox Game Pass.
We’re on Game Pass for Xbox, and it’s been really awesome because I think it’s brought a lot of players to the game who would not have known about it otherwise. So I think that’s been a big shift. The same way it’s changed the TV and movie worlds, the subscription system is also going to impact the game industry very significantly. We’re starting to see that, and starting to see it maybe unlock the market to weirder things and more original things that would have been more risky beforehand.
The PlayStation ecosystem features its own subscription service in PlayStation Now, which offers hundreds of games available to stream/download on PS4 and PC. This service is expected to play a larger role with the release of the PS5 later this year, as subscription-based models become more popular.
Developers have offered various stances on crunch in the workplace ranging from advocating against it to praising the practice, and more grey opinions in between. Mobius Digital finds itself in the anti-crunch camp, explaining that it prides itself on “not crunching.” Verneau expressed his disapproval of crunching during game development, even going so far to say that it’s a hindrance to the process. He said:
One of the things we pride ourselves on [at Mobius Digital] — and I think it’s important to talk about it — is work conditions. We pride ourselves on not crunching and really trying to keep healthy conditions at the office, keeping everyone in a nice work-life balance. I think it’s served us tremendously, and I wish it were something we heard more of.
If you schedule accordingly, if you don’t push your team for deadlines that can’t be done, if you keep the environment sane and safe for everyone, I think you can actually make games faster.
Some developers do not share Mobius’ opinions on crunching. Last year, we interviewed David Dedeine, creative director of A Plague Tale: Innocence. Dedeine feels that crunch is necessary, stating “there is an alchemy that makes everything [happen] and suddenly you find the right solution. It comes from pressure, so we need deadlines. At some point you realize that you can do better and [developers] want to do crunch.” Other studios like Warframe’s Digital Extremes, seem to disagree with the practice, calling game development “a marathon, not a sprint.”
Outer Wilds is available to download digitally on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
[Source: Games Industry]