Horizon Forbidden West is out now, ending a long and fervent period of excitement and anticipation, and though it’s got the PS5 off to an amazing start early on in 2022, if things had gone differently, it could instead have closed out 2021 for the console. Originally set for a Holiday 2021 launch, the game got delayed into 2022– and as it turns out, that was partially motivated by developer Guerrilla’s desire to avoid crunch.
Speaking in an interview with Dutch site NU (via ResetEra), Horizon Forbidden West game director Mathijs de Jong revealed that thanks to the game’s delay from late 2021 into February 2022, Guerrilla was able to avoid crunch and overtime work.
“That happens very little with us,” de Jong said when asked about crunch at Guerrilla Games. “We are very aware of the disadvantages of crunching, so we take that into account a lot in our planning. To give an example, at Christmas we said that there would be no work and that everyone could just have a two-week vacation. The company was closed, you couldn’t even go there to work.
“Some people like to keep working, they don’t necessarily want Christmas vacations. That’s allowed, we’re not going to stop that. But from the company’s point of view, we send a very strong message.
“Forbidden West might have come out at the end of last year, but then we might have had to work overtime. People also need to be able to relax and take vacations, for example to be with family and friends. That also played into the decision to only release the game now.”
Crunch has been a widespread and prevalent issue in the games industry for years, and there’s been no shortage of high profile examples of AAA games and developers where it’s been a surprisingly big issue, from Naughty Dog with The Last of Us Part 2 to Rockstar with Red Dead Redemption 2 to BioWare with Anthem, to name just a few. Seeing Guerrilla taking steps to avoid crunch for a production as big as Horizon Forbidden West is certainly heartening.
And it definitely hasn’t come at the cost of quality, that’s for sure. In our review of the game, we awarded it a score of 10/10, saying, “Horizon Forbidden West is an impressive achievement in storytelling, game design, and technology, and in improving upon its predecessor in nearly every way possible, it delivers one of the finest games of its kind in recent memory.” You can read our full review through here.