Don’t Expect Crunch To Be Removed From The Gaming Industry Soon
The notion of “Crunch”, or grueling conditions to get a game out on time is nothing new, and it looks like it won’t improve as long as industry behemoths brag about unethically long hours and harsh working conditions to get a game finished on time.
RCP Scotland head Mark Lloyd says that actually removing Crunch from the game industry may be an exercise in frustration, and that we tread a “fine moral line” and damage “the lifeblood of the business” in continuing to use these underhanded tactics in games.
These underhanded tactics include the ethically-questionable 100-hour work weeks many major publishers insist on, but also lootboxes and other psychological tricks used to get people to spend money. Lootboxes have been linked to gambling as the psychology at play is arguably all but the same. One only needs to look at the most recent case of NBA 2k20, which played more like a slot machine simulator than a basketball game.
The problem with Crunch is the same issue at play in any capitalistic society, where results are valued over people. Any developer working on a major title is often not required to work overtime, but will be replaced quickly if they don’t. An article from Business Insider in 2016 showed 38% of those developers were working that overtime unpaid, and with developers still bragging about Crunch, it’s unlikely those numbers have improved nearly 4 years later.
Related: Promises, Promises: Telltale Games Aims For No Crunch Time
“We are still burning out our best and brightest young and veteran talent for a buck”, says Lloyd, explaining that while hard work is required in any business, a team with strong ethical values will win out over any major developer and that his people shouldn’t be thrown out after a game’s launch “for profit.”
He goes on to say that Crunch is not a development method but “a failure to plan, communicate, and manage change.” Lloyd looks to lead the visionaries for the future who care about more than how quickly they can make a buck.
If we, as consumers, want to help, it’s important for us to support developers who put people before results, and criticize those who continue the trend of burning out their team. Often, the best games come from a small creative family that cares about each other.
Crunch looks to be the continuing trend for the near future, but the good news is that the problem is finally making headlines. It may be a slow burn to actually stamp out this problem, but talking about it is a start.
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