With launch in sight for Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red has backtracked on trying to reduce crunch by enforcing extended work weeks.
As one of the most highly-anticipated titles of the year, Cyberpunk 2077 has been long in development by CD Projekt Red for several years, requiring the full force of the Polish company to deliver. While CD Projekt Red has previously expressed the desire to try and reduce crunch on its employees and developers–extended periods of work that can often stretch across months (or even years)–the studio seems to be falling back on mandating crunch in the lead-up to the title’s release this November.
In a report from Bloomberg‘s Jason Schreier, developer CD Projekt Red has seemingly begun to enforce an extended 6-day work week in the last stretch of development for Cyberpunk 2077, which launches on PS4, Xbox One, and PC this November (and next-gen platforms at a later date). According to the report, a year ago CD Projekt Red confirmed to Schreier (with Kotaku, at the time) that the studio was “committed” to lessen the impact of crunch on the studio and the health of its employees. However, according to an anonymous employee, the studio is requiring an extended 6-day work week in order to finalize the title ahead of launch, with the studio sending a company-wide email on the mandate.
Last year, the bosses of CD Projekt Red approached me for an interview. They wanted to announce that for Cyberpunk 2077, they would be avoiding mandatory crunch.
This week, they sent out an email to staff announcing studio-wide mandatory crunch. News: https://t.co/s4OI5rUiQq
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) September 29, 2020
Specifically, the report details that some employees have “already been putting in nights and weekends” on the title for well over a year, while the game has been sent for certification for both Microsoft and Sony’s approval for its console launch. However, the crunch at the studio will seemingly be focused on correcting bugs and final issues before launch.
According to the email, CD Projekt Red studio head Adam Badowski explained that “the entire studio is in overdrive,” and that employees would be expected to put in “your typical amount of work and one day of the weekend” in the final weeks before the game ships. While the overtime will be paid for employees, Badowski expressed that “I know this is in direct opposition to what we’ve said about crunch,” but explained that “we’ve extended all other possible means of navigating the situation.”
Crunch and excessive overwork have been a recurring issue in the games industry, and CD Projekt Red has notably been a studio with reports of extended lengths of crunch over long periods of time. Especially in light of the pandemic and the development challenges that it has presented for many studios, this is likely another factor that is contributing to the need to put in more work by employees ahead of the already stressful time of preparing the game for launch.
Cyberpunk 2077 will release for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on November 19, 2020. The game will also be coming to Google Stadia, PS5, and Xbox Series X/Series S at a later date.
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