In Terms of Crunch, 'Cyberpunk 2077' Is Already a Failure

Yesterday, developer CD Projekt Red announced that RPG fans will have to keep waiting for one of the most anticipated games of the last few years. Cyberpunk 2077, which was scheduled for release on April 16, it said, is being delayed to September 17.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qjdbmm/in-terms-of-crunch-cyberpunk-2077-is-already-a-failure
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Crunch and delays are both signs of management failure, so having to delay while also crunching is a colossal management failure.

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I was already very iffy on buying Cyberpunk, but now I’m pretty sure I’m going to donate that money to Game Workers Unite instead.

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Turns out the real cyberpunk dystopia was the friends who burnt out from exhaustion along the way.

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If the game gets good reviews, they end up not doing transphobic things in the games world/story, etc, etc… Don’t feel guilty if you end up buying the game. Poor sales never affects the people that perpetuate the poor labor conditions and retribution for not making all the money is taken out on the people that were exploited.

I’ll buy the game most likely but also donate to GWU from time to time (a lot of my discretionary spending right now is going to voter registration groups in my country for the rest of the year), you can and probably should do both when you can. But if you can only do one, do the one you feel best about.

Cyberpunk 2077 's development team is facing five months of development that according to Kiciński himself will require them to crunch. When asked if they could use more help, he shrugs it off and says that they’re good.

The implication I’m reading is that Kiciński is wrong not to hire into the Cyberpunk team because doing so would alleviate crunch. At this stage of such a complex project, that’s likely not the case. There’s a common idea in software project management called Brooks’s law: adding workers to a late software project makes it later. The need to catch each added worker up on the project, plus the additional overhead of communication and coordination in an enlarged staff, means that hiring can sometimes result in an increased workload for everyone involved. A better approach would likely be some combination of delays, delaying specific components to be added post-launch (this can be presented as a feature, free DLC, though it’s important not to let this mean continuing crunch after going gold), and cutting scope.

(Having played the far-too-large The Witcher 3, I really wish they’d cut scope, but that seems counter to their whole design philosophy of universal excess.)

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I’m imagining CDPR employees having to design dozens of activities equivalent to the question marks in Witcher 3, and thinking “maybe this isn’t something anyone really wants, let alone is worth suffering through overtime to achieve”.

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I don’t know why I heard that when Cyberpunk was delayed that made crunch more likely instead of less. It just felt correct in my soul, from how the video game industry works. So… add one score for my soul, minus one for humanity I guess.

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Truly shameful. Crunch is a management failure. I’ve worked on games that had crunch built in to the schedule and it’s a good way way to to burn out your best people and get a crappier product in the end.

People who are well rested get more work done in less time at a higher quality level. Crunch is for optics, and not actually something that will ship a game because it just causes more issues that will come up further down the line.

This short sighted thinking is one reason I tell people to not join the game industry as this practice is commonplace and harmful to the people actually doing the work.

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While I’m sympathetic to the notion that crunch is a failed practice when considering a holistic perspective, it’s a rousing success from the perspective of management. Crunch is rampant in the industry, and it has resulted in sky high profits and ever growing executive payouts. Even CDPR specifically has grown exponentially since the days of The Witcher I, so crunch is clearly “working” for them. The system is designed to use crunch as a tool for success, and framing it as a failure of management is ascribing good intentions to a protected class that has clearly shown only contempt for those deemed below them.

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Learning about the atrocious labor practices in the video game industry has made it hard to stomach AAA games these past couple years. It has only solidified my desire for the whole industry to unionize.

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If they’re pushing themselves to get 160 hours of game in there, I would happily take like, 50 hours of game if it lets them go have dinner with their families.

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I fear the gargantuan task of fixing this, really societal issue across most industries, is impossible without legislation in multiple countries. Hell, just some laws to force compensation for wage theft from contract and classified hourly employees would do a lot to curb crunch and I would hope be popular policy.

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I am not an expert, but I remember reading that most CDPR employees will get compensated with overtime wages per Polish labor law. So while that’s better than nothing, it does indicate that mandated overtime pay isn’t doing much to stop crunch from happening, or really even curbing it.

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