We Asked Nintendo, Microsoft, and 12 Other Devs How They Deal With Crunch


#1

E3 is a huge event, and it’s one of the rare opportunities where you’re given direct access to the creative talent behind a variety of games. Game publishers hold individual marketing events for their tentpole releases—a preview event here, a review event there— but E3 puts everyone under the same roof. There’s a chance to have a broad reading of the industry. We wanted to take advantage of this opportunity, so in nearly every one-on-one interview we scheduled, we asked the developers sitting in front of us about a constant refrain at Waypoint: labor practices.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/mbkm33/we-asked-nintendo-microsoft-and-12-other-devs-how-they-deal-with-crunch

#2

Good old Ubisoft PR directing the conversation back to safe topics. I have to admit most of the responses were better than I expected, though of course it is just talk.


#3

Rob’s descriptions of the passive aggressive PR person were excellent. :laughing:


#4

I’m glad Waypoint made it a priority to ask about crunch at the conference. That ESA answer though… You know when someone says “marketplace” that much they aren’t thinking about the needs of any laborers.

Also really appreciated asking the TUNIC developer about crunch, because it’s just as big an issue in the independent development community!


#5

“I would want to talk about Hitman 2 at this point.”

I don’t know why, but I found this response really funny.


#6

What’s interesting too reading through this is thinking about the different understandings people can have of crunch. Some people think of crunch as being weeks or months. Sometimes crunch could be staying up til 6am or all night. With that kind of range it does feel like sometimes people can answer these questions and think

“Well we don’t crunch, people just tend to stay an hour late. But that’s not really crunch.”


#7

Great article, glad that 'yall are doing this good reporting. The industry needs to shift so that the culture of working in games no longer has these demands.

The ESA’s very ‘capitalism has worked everything out’ answer was awful. That was BS and that guy knew it.


#8

This was fantastic and I can’t wait to see more stuff like it. The Ubi/IO response was wild. It must take a lot of restraint (and, I guess, a lot of implied threats about cutting off access for the rest of time) not to make the whole interview about crunch at that point.


#9

I think I would agree that overtime during the ebb and flow of different projects doesn’t fit in the same category as what we usually think of as crunch (ie EA spouse). At any job I’ve had there have been busy times and lighter times, sometimes a lot of overtime and sometimes none.

But I will say that its worrying the amount of times the answers were seemingly very good but they slipped in the “its hard to stop people from coming in on the weekend thats up to them!”. I’m glad at least one developer was asked about the idea of forced passion.


#10

Adrian Ciszewski, probably: People love to crunch! Can’t stop 'em! Gotta love those passionate developers!


#11

I’m sad that none of them bit on the topic of unions or unionisation. Also that ESA response reads like a Trump rant.


#12

I would agree as long as it’s paid as overtime and it is an ebb and flow, not a case of stretching out people’s days beyond the actual work they’re doing.

I work in animation and it’s all too common for people to just regularly stay late, even for small periods of time, because there’s too much work being squeezed out of people. It may not be as soul sucking as some severe cases of crunch but I think it’s still an important cause of sapping people’s time and energy that should be part of this conversation.


#13

This was fucking harrowing to read. There were not a lot of responses I liked, except the Tunic dev actually, ha. But the ESA quote was frankly patronizing and awful and I would have been rolling my fucking eyes so hard they’d fall out of my skull. But hey, that’s why I’m not a journalist right?

The conversation with Massive was hilarious. Oh, Rob, you had to know asking that was gonna get you a hard stop, but in a way it’s a loooooot more telling that way, ain’t it, to see how the PR folks will shut shit down hard.

Thank you for this article, I super loved seeing the… comfort levels of each studio when it comes to talking about this.

But also, wow, I hope the ESA guy steps on a lego.


#14

I think they all know what it means, but we’re still at the point where they can talk about it on their own terms.

Legit, this may have been the first time game press has ever asked this question to these people.


#15

Consider all of the other games press you read.

Polygon?
PC Gamer?
Gamespot?

No one else is bringing questionsike this to the table.

IGN? … Haha, as if…


#16

thanks y’all for doing this reporting. very important, and an interesting read. :heart_eyes:


#17

At the risk of sounding astoundingly glib, we need to #AbolishESA.

EDIT 1: P.S. Is this the first time that Reggie has ever referred to himself as black???

EDIT 2: God I can’t understand why Gallagher doesn’t see how fucked this line of argument is.

ALL THE REST OF TECH HAS BETTER CONDITIONS THAN GAMES. YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS ARGUMENT IF GAMES IS THE WORST OF THE BUNCH.


#18

This article is responsible and powerful journalism. Thank you for making the hard choice to be direct about crunch and labor with so many developers! Maybe seeing this string will make others feel like not being honest and forthright about labor will make them look bad, and more will be willing to speak up and have the conversation. I wonder what the next step for waypoint and game workers unite should be…


#19

I would be more impressed by Nintendo’s response if they had not pulled the same shit Arena Net just did but aside from that only somewhat less weak response none of these are especially great from the big devs which is, extremely unsurprising


#20

Wow, very good read. This is the kind of stuff that I think makes Waypoint so important for games journalism and the industry in general.

Side note: I don’t know if any of the Waypoint staff had a chance to talk to Digital Extremes, but I think that would make for a very interesting conversation about crunch. As someone who really really likes Warframe, it’s disheartening to hear about the issue of crunch that goes on over there, even if it’s not as public (to my knowledge), and extremely frustrating to see the pressure from gamers who are fueling and reinforcing it. (We’ve been talking about this a bit in the Waypoint Warframe thread, especially this past weekend with Tennocon 2018, for those who want to check it out.)