Cyberpunk 2077 is undoubtedly the most awaited game of the year. The action RPG game has been in the works for years, and CD Projekt Red has already had to delay the launch twice. However, the developer recently announced that the game had gone gold, and it is only a matter of weeks now before players get a firsthand experience.
Amidst all this, CDPR has faced constant backlash for the past couple of weeks. The reason being the mandatory crunch enforced at the studio, with developers having to work overtime hours every week to meet next month’s launch deadline. Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier has been at the forefront of reporting the crunch culture being ordered at CDPR.
Many developers on Cyberpunk 2077, one of the most hotly anticipated games of 2020, have been working overtime hours for months if not years now. But this call for six-day work weeks, “mandatory” crunch, directly reneges on what CDPR’s bosses told me last year.
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) September 29, 2020
These reports created an uproar in the gaming community. The CDPR bosses themselves vowed to avoid the mandatory crunch not long ago. Upon receiving backlash, studio head Adam Badowski was quick to address the situation. He released a statement saying the studio will adequately compensate all employees for the extra hours they were putting in.
— Adam Badowski (@AdamBadowski) September 30, 2020
However, some reports claimed that Schreier’s reporting on Cyberpunk 2077’s crunch was incorrect. The Bloomberg reporter contacted several CDPR devs to uncover the truth if they had opted to crunch six-day weeks rather than delaying the game’s launch. The new insight from Schreier seemed to suggest otherwise, with the employees telling him that such conversations never took place.
To clear up another point, I asked a couple of CDPR devs if it’s true that the majority of them wanted six-day weeks over a delay. They said that conversation never took place. One: “We got the email and then a meeting with our team leaders. It was never an option or question”
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) October 9, 2020
Also read- Cyberpunk 2077 Will Offer a Futuristic Driving Experience with 5 Different Vehicle Classes
Former CD Project Red dev makes claims about the studio’s crunch culture
Naturally, these bold comments about such a highly anticipated game landed in the spotlight. So much so that a Reddit thread drew a response from a former CD Projekt Red dev. Even they claimed that those conversations never occurred. The ex-employee stated that the crunch culture at CDPR “is just the last in a long list of very toxic behavior from the upper management toward us developers.”
They added that the developers have been crunching nonstop since May 2019. Moreover, they claimed that many employees have been working on weekends while averaging 16 hours per day since June 2019. Apparently, the studio informed the devs that “there is no plan B” if they failed to deliver Cyberpunk 2077 within the initial deadline.
The former CDPR dev also highlighted the lack of communication between the management and the devs. Both times, they reportedly learned about the launch delay on social media. Besides that, the source claimed that the same holds true for any other announcement since June 2019, including the gold release.
“We asked ‘what’s the plan if we can’t deliver in the set deadline’ and up until December the answer from management was ‘we have to, there is no plan B’. So here you go, first year of crunch there, of course, first a 2-month delay and then another 6 months of delay. And to give a picture of how low is the level of communication between the management and developers, we found out both times ON TWITTER and other social that the game was being delayed, with a mail from Adam following a few hours later.”
With Cyberpunk 2077 weeks away from launch, a controversy is unfolding
“Conversations end up mostly like this, the management saying that everything is great and cool, and we have to believe in the project, our questions, and doubts being brushed aside. At the end of the day feels like CDP management is completely detached from the reality of us developers.”
Meanwhile, Jason Schreier later confirmed on Twitter that the dev indeed used to work at CDPR. The Bloomberg reporter spoke to the former CDPR dev over the phone.
“I personally had a blast working there until they decided the only way to finish the game was to do the death march,” this person told me. I’ve heard this sentiment from a few people. (I’ve also heard it said about Naughty Dog and a couple other game companies)
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) October 14, 2020
Unfortunately, crunch culture is a harsh reality of the game development industry. When push comes to shove, the studios and its developers have to get the job done within the deadline. The recent developments regarding the crunch at CDPR have sparked an industry-wide debate, with people holding contrasting opinions.
As of now, the studio is yet to address the latest allegations amidst the serious backlash it has received. However, one thing is for certain – Cyberpunk 2077 is definitely going to be one of the best games of all time. But at what cost, one might ask.
Nevertheless, Cyberpunk 2077 releases on November 19 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The PS4 and Xbox One copies of the game will also work on the respective next-gen consoles when they launch. An upgraded version of the game for PS5 and Xbox Series X will arrive next year, which CDPR will make accessible for free.