The Myth of "Lazy Devs"


#1

I’m in a Discord with some old friends from high school who often express sentiments close to the “lazy devs” myth, particularly about PUBG.

Whenever they complain about the (legitimate) hacker problem, or physics issues, or even the release of a new map (because “why would devs work on new content if the game doesn’t work???”), all I can do is picture the people at PUBG Corp frantically working to patch their suddenly successful game to the best of their ability.

I know this conversation/argument is probably not worth having but…
Can (and how can) I convince them that this is likely untrue?
Why do I feel this weird loyalty toward PUBG Corp? Is it a right-wing bow to industry leaders? Or a left-wing recognition of my fellow laborer (though I do not work in games)?
Is this topic interesting?
Why am I like this?

Thank you for any and all responses, dear friends.


#2

I think PUBG is a tough one, since it really is a group of developers that had a game explode, and they couldn’t keep up with demand due to their size. If you compare that to Epic, who is a large developer - they can push out changes non-stop to Fortnite BR due to their sheer size.

Their biggest mistake was agreeing to make an Xbox version when the PC version wasn’t even close to complete. This type of crunch between a somewhat functioning (yet fun) PC version, and getting a new version up for consoles led to “lazy” behavior. As in, putting out patches that screw up the game and/or not putting in enough Quality Control before releasing a patch. These type of grievous errors may not have been “lazy”, but it comes off as lazy.

Example: I feel like the testers and developers on the Rainbow Six Siege team are lazy, because every patch - even with TTS to help them out - they put out content that is incredibly glitchy.


#3

It’s hard for someone with no programming experience to understand what a massively complex and fragile machine a modern video game is. Code just doesn’t work in ways that are intuitive to an average user, so rigorously explaining the “why” of how bugs get through despite the best efforts of developers would ultimately involve an education in computer science.

I don’t know if there’s been any specific reporting about the PUBG team’s development practices, but there’s been more than enough reporting on crunch to smash the idea that “laziness” is at all common in the industry. (Frankly many studios could almost certainly produce better work if they were more “lazy” and didn’t try to keep working through exhaustion, even if that meant missing a deadline.) This Jason Schreier piece is a fine example.

Edit: I searched a bit more and found this lovely headline: Battlegrounds devs would work 14-hour days even if you gassed them


#4

pls do not gas the devs

Yeah, one of these guys is a (non-games) programmer, but I’d say he’s the most forgiving of the bunch. idk I guess I just care more about people working on something they enjoy and not killing themselves to do it.

Vigorous Tea-Drinking


#5

This shit is very obviously Not Lazy, though. This is the kinda shit I do when I’m ridiculously overworked and rushing things/making errors as a result. What I’m most frustrated by is the lack of empathy.


#6

It’s very common in our society to blame rank-and-file workers for things that are often the fault of management. Chances are, the PUBG dev team wants to make the best game possible and they honestly care about all the things you mention, but management wants to make money (and please their investors, if they have any), so they work on the stuff that brings more players in, which is often not the stuff that makes for a better game. Overwatch has the same problem, probably to an even greater extent - development seems focused on making Overwatch into a fancy-looking eSport and churning out more cosmetics, characters and maps than balancing the game and rooting out the toxic elements in the community.

This seems to me to be the best way to get your friends to have more sympathy - explain that the problem isn’t lazy devs but greedy companies and the socio-economic conditions that give rise to them. But that’s not a message everyone is receptive towards.


#7

Yeeeah, these conversations usually end with me raving about the evils of capitalism, so I guess I’m doing the best I can.

Personally, I love weird physics and new maps, so PUBG is treating me just fine!


#8

I understand where you are coming from, and I agree that it isn’t lazy. That is why I put lazy in quotes, so my apologies if that was not clear.

But to play devil’s advocate on saying that it isn’t lazy - do you really know that? I made an assumption in my statement that the console team and PC team are the same. If they are the same, then yes - they are overworked and the grind is real, and should be regulated in some way, but as of now it is not.

If they are separate teams, is it acceptable to release shoddy code to the PC version? My answer would be a hard nope, but that is also skewed because I work in programming, and if my bad code made it through test environments and into production - I would be out of a job.(I work in the automotive sector, and deal with safety of cars - so it can be life and death consequences - so my opinion on coding is greatly skewed).


#9

I absolutely despise this insult because it so often comes from such a mean, selfish mindset. Having stepped away from Destiny and its community, this is probably the #1 insult/description I saw of Bungie devs. There were some dysfunctional systems with most of Destiny, but any release/hot fix/etc came with “Bungo so lazy, where’s my raid?!” It’s just disheartening and ignorant.

Ironically enough, it comes across as very uninspired (read: lazy) criticism because it doesn’t get to the heart of what’s actually bothering the player.


#10

I think my favorite flavor of this is the “I can’t believe they’re adding more cosmetics and not insert anything else here.” Like - the dev team should only work on one issue at a time. Hey, art team, sound team, design team, hold off. Physics aren’t perfect yet.

Like - a bunch of modelers/texture artists, etc. would otherwise be reading bug reports, finding fixes, or hacker reports and replays, and banning users.

You could, I think, complain about the fact that a company with this much money rather suddenly not hiring more people to manage the community, or deal with those reports, etc. but… it isn’t really… the fault of any developer working there. So…Nah.

(But the complaints also, rather obviously comes from a shitty place, so whatever.)


#11

Ahhhh “Lazy Devs”, the argument of those who don’t want to actually think about the labor that goes into the art they consume, that can be used in literally every situation because if theres no new content and it’s just patches it’s “where’s my new shit why so lazy” and if it’s new content and no patches it’s “this is all broken fix my game stop being lazy”, with a total ignorance of the fact that games are made by multiple people and teams that don’t work on the same things.

If you actually want to convince these people that they’re wrong be prepared to do some research and find some evidence as to why developers aren’t “lazy”. Theres a good Jason Schreier article from 2015 about the development of Destiny that might help, for example. But the argument likely isn’t coming from a place of good faith so I don’t know if you should even try.


#12

“Lazy devs” is so bad and I was hoping I had joked about it publicly enough times to make people stop saying it.

Bugs, vulnerabilities, any error in a game is more often caused by overwork and pressure rather than not caring.

Everyone working on games cares about their games so much–you take so much bullshit hourly working in this industry that it is not a job for lazy people and there is no way you would put up with it.

edit: I would maybe use that last bit as argument if you’re going to argue it, but as others have said, it seems like it might not be a worthy pursuit. But really, we get death threats, complaints, people asking for stuff constantly, we’re always overworked, we’re always underpaid. There’s no way anyone lazy is left in dev roles in this industry.


#13

“lazy devs” just makes me think of this sketch


#14

Yeah, I constantly find that the people trotting out the idea that developers are lazy or don’t do anything, tends to be people who feel super entitled to whatever they’re complaining about. Maybe it’s reading too much discourse on Destiny 2, but the argument is always there just to super the idea that the poster should have something they don’t, and why that’s bad.


#15

This pretty much sums it up. Just go look at some of the forum posts on things that are 100% free such as mods and you will find people who are nothing but leeches demanding more content. You know what drives someone away from making free stuff for others? Rude people who feel your only purpose is to make them things.

It’s why the outrage over paid mods still infuriates me. Gee I’m sorry these talented people who have been putting out free content for years would now like to be paid.


#16

“lazy devs”
“entitled users”

Meanwhile, the failing managers (although in some ways engineering complex systems mean there is no such thing as great management that can scale a project up quickly because it’s basically intractable) and executives who pocketed the majority of the $900 million paid in 2017 for PUBG quietly rub their hands and think about what their next yacht will look like.


#17

Like, I think we can agree that both capitalists are bad and make things awful for people working in the industry, and that devs don’t deserve to have abuse hurl at them because they didn’t make the thing the way some person wanted it.


#18

The entire point of the con is the users have all their money taken and the devs have poor conditions and don’t see the profits from their labour and are told to shout at the other/use this extremely disparaging language to paint the other as the real problem.

The problem is not civility, it’s that the users and devs both have legitimate concerns and have both been exploited by the system (and those who profit from it) while told to attack the other (in one direction: the people making the thing you like and in the other the people who ultimately pay you).


#19

My mind immediately jumped to this recent Clickhole gem:


#20

I honestly don’t think that the general ire towards devs is aimed at any particular employee as a person. As Shivoa said above, it’s likely shorthand for the developer as a company (meaning management). I don’t really play any multiplayer games these days other than League, but it seems like a pretty a popular meme in the community that Riot is a “small indie company” and therefore can’t fix the numerous bugs and QoL shortcomings of that game; point being, of course, that it isn’t.

I can’t speak for everyone who specifically uses the term “lazy devs,” so perhaps there is a certain amount of abuse that is actually aimed at real people. But, for instance, Valve’s refusal to involve human beings (rather than algorithms or systems) in cleaning up the Steam landscape has been discussed here often and could easily fall under “lazy” (or any other adjective depending on your viewpoint) but wouldn’t be directed at any one person.

In sum, I think it depends. PUBG Corp, in particular, which is certainly rolling in money at this point, doesn’t elicit loads of sympathy from me, entirely separately from the sympathy I feel for the likely overworked and undercompensated employees.