Treyarch has addressed Kotaku’s story on the harsh development for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 via an internal email to its staff. This was obtained by Kotaku and saw studio heads Dan Bunting and Mark Gordon talking about how, “We take the well-being of every single individual working here very seriously.”
“We have a vision for the future of this studio that includes significant improvements to work/life balance, and we plan to achieve that through better project planning, streamlined production processes, and rigorous decision-making timelines. It is also our intention to maintain our commitment to increased transparency,” the email states.
Achieving this will “require time, hard work, and commitment — most of all, it will require open communication. If you ever feel like your needs aren’t being met, please do not hesitate to communicate actively with your manager. No one should ever feel like they don’t have options, can’t talk openly, or that the only choice is to take their concerns to the public.”
“These conversations should always start with an honest dialogue with your department manager, and if that’s not working, feel free to reach out to one of us.
“Game development is a wildly complex art and it requires a diverse set of people and skill sets to do it successfully. It’s important for all of us to foster a studio culture that treats all team members with respect. We appreciate the contributions made by all parts of the team in the name of the games we make.”
That last part is interesting given the reports of poor treatment that Q&A testers receiving during development. Many reported working long hours for months on end while being discouraged from associating with members of the development team. Crunch was a big factor in the development of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, especially when the campaign – originally envisioned as a 2v2 multiplayer mode – was scrapped for a traditional solo story mode.
That would also be canceled for the sake of implementing Blackout, a battle royale mode. Of course, Treyarch had limited time to complete that as well with sources claiming it was a “miracle” that it all came together. In the meantime, reports have even circulating regarding Treyarch heading development of Call of Duty 2020, which is apparently Black Ops 5. Time will tell whether studio culture improves especially with what seems to be another long year of crunch ahead for the studio.