The Callisto Protocol director apologizes after appearing to glorify crunch culture

midian182

Posts: 8,463   +104
Staff member
A hot potato: Crunch culture, the term used to describe the massive amount of (often mandatory) overtime worked by those in the video game industry, has long been a controversial subject that many consumers and employees rally against. So, when a CEO tweets a message that seemingly glorifies the practice, don't be surprised when it's quickly followed by an apology.

The post in question comes from Striking Distance Studios' founder and CEO, Glen Schofield. In a now-deleted tweet, the director of upcoming horror title The Callisto Protocol wrote: "We r working 6-7 days a week, nobody's forcing us. Exhaustion, tired, Covid but we're working. Bugs, glitches, perf fixes. 1 last pass thru audio. 12-15 hr days. This is gaming. Hard work. Lunch, dinner working. U Do it cause ya luv it."

The tweet generated plenty of replies, almost all of them negative. It's easy for a company's founder and boss to talk about working every waking hour because they love something, but not all employees share these sentiments. And while Schofield suggests the work isn't compulsory, many people, not just those in the game industry, will know what can happen to workers who can't or won't put in excess overtime.

Schofield responded to the criticism with an apology. "Earlier I tweeted how proud I was of the effort the hours the team was putting in. That was wrong. We value passion and creativity, not long hours. I'm sorry to the team for coming across like this," he wrote.

Stories about the crunch culture problem have permeated the video game industry for years. Examples include the months of long hours, including six-day weeks, worked at CD Projekt Red as it rushed to finish Cyberpunk 2077, despite the studio's previous claims that this sort of overtime would not be mandatory. Crunch was also said to be a big problem at Bungie and Rockstar.

Game studios have been trying to address the crunch problem in recent times. Rockstar says it is overhauling its business to keep overtime under control for work on GTA 6, while Bethesda is reportedly no longer enforcing crunch after falling under the Microsoft banner. There was also the case of an environmental artist working on the PS5 remake of The Last of Us: Part I who said that, for the first time in his career, there was no crunch involved in making the game.

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hahahanoobs

Posts: 4,714   +2,681
Yea I didn't get crunch culture vibes from that tweet. A lot of assumptions, but nothing concrete. Maybe people are just looking for a fight? If you have passion, it would make sense to put more time in voluntarily. Not all jobs are "work."

Until I hear otherwise this is a non-issue.
 

dangh

Posts: 839   +1,436
Schreier plays this 'defender of the weak' any time he can. It becomes another political correctness, as with the gender, colours and other stuff in game dev companies. Now it is dangerous to have a passion, where you not trying to be woke as f.
Sure, I understand that US work culture is in general crazy, but that is an issue on all industries, not game only. I love my job and I from time to time sit down to solve some issue to the middle of the night, but I do as well enjoy 6 weeks of holidays and noone have tiniest right to bother me in there.
 

RudyBob

Posts: 888   +909
It's an industry that requires time and effort. It's an industry people choose. I don't want to hear about forced overtime not even from healthcare workers.
 

kira setsu

Posts: 445   +434
Lemme guess.

if the game releases and has some issues on day1 reviewers(the parasites that they are imo) will destroy the game and point at the studio and ask how that can happen.

but also, its somehow wrong that a studio works hard to release a solid product?

gaming in just about every regard is terrible, the fanbase truly has no clue how lucky they are to still get games considering the obtuse, horrible rules they toss at the developers.

 

poohbear

Posts: 718   +636
Yea I didn't get crunch culture vibes from that tweet. A lot of assumptions, but nothing concrete. Maybe people are just looking for a fight? If you have passion, it would make sense to put more time in voluntarily. Not all jobs are "work."

Until I hear otherwise this is a non-issue.
12-15 hours a day for 6 days a week isn't crunch time? What country do you live in? Japan? South Korea? They have some of the highest suicide rates in the world, in large part due to their insane work hours. People are realizing life is alot more than just "work".
 

neeyik

Posts: 2,406   +2,939
Staff member
12-15 hours a day for 6 days a week isn't crunch time?
This is absolutely crunch time -- a 72 hour working week isn't a standard or average for the bulk of the development stage of a game. 40 to 45 hours, over 5 days, is probably around the norm, with some studios working to less than that, and others a little more (depends very much on what country the studio is in). Once a publisher digs their heels in and says "shipping on this date, no later" then there's always a crunch to hit that deadline. Ideally, that time should be for fine-tuning and polishing things, but more often than not, it's about significant bug resolving or final asset building.

I've worked with devs who seemingly thrived on crunch time, as the amount of work they produced in that period was prodigious. They didn't actually enjoy it, of course, nor was their work notably any better then, but because they weren't managed properly during the rest of the development period, the situation always arose. And because a number of devs were like this, the same expectations were often set for people who had managed their own time properly.

Not that it was a negative environment -- nobody was openly hostile towards that kind of time and staff management. Sure we'd all moan about it afterward, but come the next deadline and everyone's back to square one.
 

kira setsu

Posts: 445   +434
This is absolutely crunch time -- a 72 hour working week isn't a standard or average for the bulk of the development stage of a game. 40 to 45 hours, over 5 days, is probably around the norm, with some studios working to less than that, and others a little more (depends very much on what country the studio is in). Once a publisher digs their heels in and says "shipping on this date, no later" then there's always a crunch to hit that deadline. Ideally, that time should be for fine-tuning and polishing things, but more often than not, it's about significant bug resolving or final asset building.

I've worked with devs who seemingly thrived on crunch time, as the amount of work they produced in that period was prodigious. They didn't actually enjoy it, of course, nor was their work notably any better then, but because they weren't managed properly during the rest of the development period, the situation always arose. And because a number of devs were like this, the same expectations were often set for people who had managed their own time properly.

Not that it was a negative environment -- nobody was openly hostile towards that kind of time and staff management. Sure we'd all moan about it afterward, but come the next deadline and everyone's back to square one.
One question I always have when I read about this stuff, what are these devs being paid? I know to alot of people those hours sound wild but if they're making some nice money while doing it...I really don't feel terrible for em.

I know that sounds like jerk thinking, but I'll guess these people went to school and really like making games, already make decent incomes, so bolting on extra hours to make even more while working on a game players are hyped for doesnt seem like a bad deal, and once the the performance issues get patched out the devs really have made a banger of a game.

I've worked killer overtime on projects, mainly because its a job that needs to be done, but also because that extra time means extra cash in the bank.
 

neeyik

Posts: 2,406   +2,939
Staff member
One question I always have when I read about this stuff, what are these devs being paid? I know to alot of people those hours sound wild but if they're making some nice money while doing it...I really don't feel terrible for em.

I know that sounds like jerk thinking, but I'll guess these people went to school and really like making games, already make decent incomes, so bolting on extra hours to make even more while working on a game players are hyped for doesnt seem like a bad deal, and once the the performance issues get patched out the devs really have made a banger of a game.

I've worked killer overtime on projects, mainly because its a job that needs to be done, but also because that extra time means extra cash in the bank.
Wages vary enormously, depending on the role, studio, and project in question. Some contracts may stipulate additional pay for any extra hours worked, but for the company that I worked for (which made games, applications, and services) it was a flat salary, with no bonuses or other incentives. Take this Ubisoft programming vacancy in the UK, for example -- although it doesn't mention wages, note that there is nothing about hourly rates or the like. That's because such a thing, in the UK game industry at least, doesn't exist. However, the packages around it and the salaries themselves are often pretty good (role dependent, of course), but there's usually no extra money for doing extra hours.

Crunch is somewhat inevitable in game development, even if the team is well-managed and highly experienced. Publishers or whoever is footing the bill for the title will want a return on their investment within a very specific time frame and this is invariably tight. Very few businesses are going to say to their workforce "take as long as you want, it doesn't matter when it's ready." The problem is when the same investors keep changing their expectations or demands. Take Cyberpunk 2077, as a classic example, and the decision to make the game for older consoles late in the development stage.

Management and publishers will also agree on a post-launch support time frame, where so much of the studio will be made available for patches and, if originally planned, the development of DLC. That also varies hugely, from No Man's Sky level, where the entire studio has pretty much remained working on that title since launch, down to EA Sport's level, where it's one person and their pet donkey working on patches.
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 4,714   +2,681
12-15 hours a day for 6 days a week isn't crunch time? What country do you live in? Japan? South Korea? They have some of the highest suicide rates in the world, in large part due to their insane work hours. People are realizing life is alot more than just "work".
I said it didn't come across as a culture. It's a story about a director glorifying long hours for a time. And crunch times aren't exclusive to gaming. I'm willing to bet far more important industries that have a greater effect on our lives do it.
 
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