The Myth of "Lazy Devs"


While not the exact same problem, I think a lot of gamers have this mentality that the games produced are made only to serve them directly. I think Steam’s infrastructure partially fuels this. ( thankfully has more emphasis on the developer as an artist than a producer.)


While I don’t think it’s aimed at any one person, I do think it’s generally used to target the workers. Maybe I’m wrong, but to me lazy signifies a type of work that isn’t covered by a manager, but something that someone “down below” could have put in extra work to notice and fix but didn’t.

And while I think you’re right that at some point we need some adjective to use when ascribing blame to systems or management, I don’t think lazy is a good one. Partly because it feeds into the same language that I feel targets those on the bottom but also because it’s very vague. Eg. I don’t think Valve’s problem about fixing Steam is that they’re lazy. I think it’s that the management doesn’t care about it, or possibly that their supposedly flat group hierarchy has created structures which disincentivizes targeted action.


It is not shorthand, because we are not trained to think of these problems systemically. Look at Mass Effect: Andromeda, with all the misplaced rage at the animators, and not the horrible mismanagement that led to that. The fact of the matter is that if something is broken, management never, ever gets the blame, because nobody ever considers it. If the art is bad, it must be the artist’s fault. If there’s a bug, QA must have missed it, or the programmers must suck.


I think the “lazy dev” thing is a problem all creatives, regardless of medium, encounter. In part because we can consume media far faster than we can create it. Even if procedural generated art is being made it never has the same depth that an authored experience has.

It may be enticing enough for the player/consumer to keep returning because it’s created a loop that’s satisfying but it lacks an arc that has greater meaning or impact.

Games compared to other mediums are in a difficult place because every time a new game is made the majority of the medium has to be remade. Writing books, creating films or TV shows, recording podcasts don’t require the teams behind them to invent the technology to do those very thing every time. So where those mediums have been able to focus on production methodologies, such that a film can bring together a load of freelancers who all contribute to a single project over a number of months and then call it a day, games don’t have that ability. At least they don’t right now. Middleware such as Unity provides some help in that regard but it still very much requires far more work and testing before anything is viable.

Again, books, comics, TV, film, podcasts don’t have that test period. Sure you can focus test, but by and large a creator isn’t going to scrap large parts of a project, or reduce the scope. Games are as always laying down the track for the speeding train they are - unless you’re making a show like Lost. Then you’re just painting yourself into corners day and night.


I think that’s a bit unfair. Initial Twitter rage aside, I believe there’s been a lot of ink spilled over how Andromeda failed as a project.

Anyhow, it’s not like I’m arguing that there aren’t people who do say “lazy devs” and really mean it literally. (See: aforementioned Twitter rage). I’m just saying that I think “lazy” as a shorthand does exist as far as I’ve encountered it, and in that regard I’m uncomfortable with dismissing complaints that are often legitimate (like, yes, Andromeda was a buggy piece of shit when it was released; at a professional level, that shouldn’t have happened; and it’s not “entitled” to say so).

In any case, @Shivoa likely summarized the issue better than I did.

I also don’t mean to misrepresent what @Shivoa said – to clarify, I think that @Shivoa rightly pointed out that there are structural issues, and in my mind, when you say “devs” in this industry (at least on the larger commercial game scale), it usually means more the organization and less the rank and file people involved. I suppose I could be imposing my own reading on the last point though.


I don’t think gamers often know enough about the structure of game companies to be able to really be targeting the “right” people, meaning they go after whomever is the public face of any project and think they know there’s some level of effort or time not being met by any group of people they deem to be the developer of a project and it’s never levelled at the publisher, producers, management or anyone else that has direct impacts on timelines, budgets, and the # of workers on something at every level, especially at AAA levels.


I’ve been thinking about this in relation to my worries about Sea of Thieves.

Sea of Thieves is a game that has a lot of ambition and I think a really good set of core mechanics but the closer that release date comes the less confident I am that the actual in game activities are varied or fleshed out enough to keep players coming back.

And when I go on the forums for it and things (don’t ask me why I do this to myself) there is a lot of the kind of easy answer ‘the devs should just do this and this, why aren’t the devs listening, lazy devs’ style rants which make me feel really sorry for the devs who I am certain are under all sorts of pressures and just trying to put out the best game they can under the time and budget Microsoft (as a first party dev) has given them. And playing that game in late beta you can really taste the compromises that had to be made to get it out the door, and they’re compromises that may well end up costing the game the audience it needs.

But the last thing I’d want to call it is lazy. I don’t want to speak for devs that I haven’t asked, but it wouldn’t surprise me if many of them would love another six months before putting it out the door, and they’re the same ones who will be working tirelessly over the next months to try to actively develop the game while it’s in the hands of the public.

Maybe I’ll be proven wrong about all this anyway and my fears are unfounded, but either way, I don’t know of any dev who pours all of their effort into a game and then just shrugs at the end and says ‘meh, this’ll do’


Spot on. The “lazy devs” line is usually followed by some sentence about how Bungie stole their money or something. My friends and I have a running joke about Bungie stealing firstborns after spending way too much time on r/DTG.

Another user made a really good point about how much faster content is consumed than can be created. I distinctly remember talking to someone who claimed to have played over 200 hours of Destiny 2 within a month of release. They were complaining about not having anything to do.

We all know that game has its problems, but there’s a really self-defeating mindset amongst some people that want “one video game to rule them all” or “I’ll never play another game.” These games don’t exist and any game that gets this label is doomed to disappoint the misguided soul.


I think this pretty much hits the nail on the head. People in general don’t know enough about what it takes to make a game and who is involved in that process, which leads people to just lob insults into a void to vent their frustrations.

Personally I tend to go the opposite way, but my tolerance for issues in games is also driven almost entirely by ignorance. I have no idea how long it takes to make a game, solve a server issue, fix a bug etc. so I tend to give the benefit of the doubt that game makers are doing their individual jobs and acting in good faith.


Words mean things. If people mean something else when they say “lazy”, then they should say that. I am 100% comfortable writing off those people, because given the horrible working conditions in the industry, it’s frankly offensive.

By journalists who actually do know better, because it’s their job. We’re not talking about them.


I really want to dig into this point because it really sticks in my craw. I know a lot of people that use “lazy” as a descriptor aren’t talking/acting/thinking in good faith, but it happens way too often.

If a drop/crate/mechanic is exploitative, then say so. “I think this lootbox mechanic is predatory.”

To the poster @Blindside is responding to, calling Andromeda buggy isn’t entitled. Calling the devs “lazy” for not being able to fix it IS entitled. You can call the game buggy, lacking polish etc because that’s a specific criticism of the game. We should then be turning on the upper management of that game that mismanaged the project so badly that it was shipped in that form. Waypoint’s interview with Manveer Heir definitely points to a failure of management.

It’s way past time that we reframe this conversation.


Gamers or the hobbyist game analyzers of YouTube often feel satisfaction from taking any kernel of possibility they can get from the surface-level information about a game and writing up a narrative around it to explain that it is definitively why the game is bad. Carried out by amateur snoops, this practice is becoming so widespread that I even see people who should know better doing it these days.

You see a name in the credits of a game that you don’t recognize and you google them to see what else they worked on. What!!! They went from being a junior level designer to the senior level designer?!? That’s why this game sucks! They had no experience… No one ever gets promoted from within, that never happens!

The animations in Andromeda are bad? How did no one notice this animation team was single-handedly ruining the game!! It can’t be that upper management was requesting so many changes in direction without changing the due date, and that everyone ended up with about half the time anyone needs to make a AAA game and animation happened to be one of the most obvious casualties! It was those damn animators trying to sink our franchise, especially those girl ones!

The No Man’s Sky Reddit had people going routinely and stalking out the developers’ office to see if anyone was there working. Pitchforks will be raised against anyone involved in a project who makes for an easy target. When an easy and often false answer to why a game is falling short of expectations is found, you’d think it was the truth from how much people celebrate it and spread it around in this industry.


I’ve definitely seen this kind of vitriol aimed at indie devs who are literally just, like, two or three programmers and a couple of contractors for art/music.