“We need to make sure that our employees have good work-life balance,” says Nintendo of America’s Doug Bowser.
One of the more conspicuous announcements during Nintendo’s E3 2019 Direct presentation was Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Not just because the game saw new players establishing a new town on a remote island, but because it was also announced that it would not, after all, be coming this year. The delay was due to Nintendo needing more time to make sure the final product meets expectations.
However, it’s also because the company wants to avoid crunch. Speaking to IGN at E3 2019, Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser spoke about crunch and how having a “good work-life balance” is important for its employees. “The crunch point is an interesting one,” he said. “For us, one of our key tenets is that we bring smiles to people’s faces, and we talk about that all the time. It’s our vision. Or our mission, I should say. For us, that applies to our own employees. We need to make sure that our employees have good work-life balance.
“One of those examples is, we will not bring a game to market before it’s ready. We just talked about one example [in Animal Crossing’s delay]. It’s really important that we have that balance in our world. It’s actually something we’re proud of.”
Crunch has become an important conversation in the past several months, especially with stories about Rockstar’s work on Red Dead Redemption 2, mismanagement on BioWare’s Anthem, and so on. Some developers like Asobo Studio, which developed A Plague Tale: Innocence, believe that crunch or overtime work according to the law, compensation, and developer participation could benefit a project in the end. Regardless, it’s good to know that Nintendo is taking its time to get Animal Crossing: New Horizons right while treating its developers well.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is out on March 20th, 2020 for the Nintendo Switch.