Crunch is a very real problem with the development of video games, and thankfully, in recent years it’s something that has become a much more publicly visible issue. Major AAA studios such as Rockstar Games, Epic Games, NetherRealm Studios, BioWare, and many others have come under fire of late for their poor management of employees and horror stories of massive overtime during development of games.
It’s an issue that is, unfortunately, so widespread it’s almost too deeply ingrained in the fibre of the industry- but thankfully, partly due to the way this has become a much more talked about issue in recent years, there have been many developers and studios that have taken a stance against crunch policies, from Grinding Gear Games and MachineGames to Respawn Entertainment, and even Nintendo with the upcoming Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Another such studio, it seems, is Obsidian Entertainment. While speaking in an interview with PCGamesN, Obsidian’s Brian Hines – senior designer on the upcoming The Outer Worlds – spoke about the issue of crunch, and how the studio has been tackling it. “Obsidian is not a crunch studio, which is one of the things that keeps people staying there for a long time,” he said, before adding that though members of development teams can be asked to work overtime “to meet a deadline for a week or so”, it’s “always a request”, and always voluntary.
Hines went on to say that not having crunch is something that Obsidian as a studio has always been very committed to, and that the studio would rather cancel features from games rather than overworking its employees to make sure those targets are met.
“There really hasn’t been a crunch or a death march or anything like that with the studio for quite a long time, as far as I can remember anyway,” he said. “That’s definitely one of the things that as a studio we’re very committed to, we’d rather cut something than try and get people to not have a life outside of the industry.”
It’s great to see a studio taking this stance, especially when reports with unbelievable accounts of the extremely long working hours of people at major studios seem to crop up so often. There is a question worth asking of whether or not Obsidian will be able to maintain these working conditions now that they’re no longer independent and are under the ownership of Microsoft, but one would hope that’s the case.
The Outer Worlds is out on October 25th for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC, while a Nintendo Switch version will also be coming some time afterward. To check out nearly 30 minutes of fresh new gameplay footage from the upcoming RPG, take a look through here.