Cyberpunk 2077's delay will not reduce crunch - and that's a very bad thingPlatforms: All
Yesterday CD Projekt Red announced that Cyberpunk 2077 was being delayed from its April release date to September and there was some relief that this might mean that the developers and testers working on the game might be spared the dreaded crunch as a result.
Unfortunately, during the press conference, the company confirmed that instead they'll be asking their staff to work extra to complete the game. During the Q&A session at the conference, when asked whether employees would be required to work more additional hours the company's joint CEO Adam Kicinski said "To some degree, yes--to be honest. We try to limit crunch as much as possible, but it is the final stage. We try to be reasonable in this regard, but yes. Unfortunately."
This is a disappointing confirmation in an industry that seems to put meeting deadlines ahead of staff welfare - and when a game can be delayed by six months and there still be a requirement for people to put in huge amounts of extra hours this really isn't excusable.
Crunch has long been the thorn in the side of game development and the fact that it is an accepted practice when there are games making BILLIONS of dollars in revenue that are clearly being developed by teams who are under extreme stress is all the more disappointing. Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the biggest games ever created - it's bound to require a lot of work and yes, there are times when overtime might be needed - but crunch is already planned in to the extended development schedule rather than sufficiently staffing their teams and working to more reasonable and achievable timetables.
There's no doubt that the game is going to be a huge seller and there's a strong chance that the crunch had already kicked in ahead of the game's original April release. That crunch may well drop a little now but will certainly pick up again in the run up to the next release date and it won't end then - there'll be post-launch crunch to fix issues and add features and then there's the whole subject of the multiplayer component of the game that is being developed and worked on for release next year.
Gamers are a hard bunch to please but forcing development teams to work unreasonable hours to deliver on unreasonable timescales should never be acceptable. If the game has been delayed and crunch is still expected then that delay isn't enough - it won't be studio heads that put in the time, it'll be the people under their command who have lives and families that will be directly hurt by extended periods of crunch.
The game industry has a real problem and studios need to treat their developers better. If the largest and most successful development studios in the world with the massive resources they have to hand can't budget in sufficient teams and plan for sensible timescales other studios with less resource will have no choice but to follow suit. CD Projekt Red, Rockstar and others all have a responsibility to the whole industry to set reasonable examples in how they treat their staff. Change cannot happen without them.