CD Projekt Red reportedly facing crunch ahead of Cyberpunk 2077 releasePlatforms: All | Google Stadia | Sony PlayStation 4 | Sony PlayStation 5 | Microsoft Xbox One | PC
Crunch is a regrettable factor in the gaming industry and it is one that plagues a lot of AAA games development when meeting a deadline becomes absolutely paramount.
According to a new Bloomberg report, the staff at CD Projekt Red are currently set to face a six-day workweek in order to ensure their next bog release, Cyberpunk 2077, is ready for its November launch date.
As per an infernal email that was passed on to Bloomberg, this crunch period will be spent troubleshooting any existing bugs as the game is essentially finished (one of their QA testers had already platinummed the game, after all) and it has been submitted to Sony and Microsoft for console certification.
In the email, studio boss Adam Badowski wrote that CDPR employees would be required to work "your typical amount of work and one day on the weekend".
This comes after CD Projekt Red faced criticisms over their crunch culture during the development of The Witcher 3, in which Badowski and studio co-founder Marcin Iwiński defended the move, saying: "This approach to making games is not for everyone. It often requires a conscious effort to 'reinvent the wheel'—even if you personally think it already works like a charm. But you know what? We believe reinventing the wheel every friggin' time is what makes a better game."
But the criticism mounted and, last year, Iwiński said the studio would keep to a "non-obligatory crunch policy" in the later stages of Cyberpunk 2077's development but couldn’t promise the complete elimination of crunch, and during a conference call this January, co-CEO Adam Kiciński said that longer hours would likely be required to get the hame finished in time.
Badowski acknowledged the new mandate contradicted their previous plans, particularly regarding non-obligatory crunch, and added in the internal email: “I take it upon myself to receive the full backlash for the decision. I know this is in direct opposition to what we've said about crunch. It's also in direct opposition to what I personally grew to believe a while back—that crunch should never be the answer. But we've extended all other possible means of navigating the situation."
Badowski took to Twitter to address the story.
It is worth noting that Polish law requires employers to compensate their staff for extra hours worked so this is to be expected, the more serious concern is the impact crunch has on an employee’s mental health. Until the industry shifts away from these massive-scaled projects or takes away the priority of pre-announced release dates, it feels like crunch is going to continue to hit people involved in these AAA projects. There really must be a better way.