And they were doing so well. CD Projekt Red, developer of Cyberpunk 2077 and formerly vocal opposition of crunch culture in the AAA video game industry, has announced to employees that six-day workweeks will be mandatory going forward until the
November 19 December 10 launch date of the game. While there is some silver lining, as the company is approaching the crunch in a more humane manner than most AAA companies, it's still a crunch.
Just last year a series of exposés spearheaded by Jason Schreier, then writing for Kotaku, made crunch in the industry a hot topic, with a number of major developers - including CDPR - implicated. Talent working on The Witcher 3 was subjected to heavy crunch, something the company wanted to distance itself from. Speaking to Kotaku, CD Projekt Red co-chief executive officer Marcin Iwinski said they would avoid mandatory crunch.
Fast forward to this Monday, when CD Projekt Red employees received an e-mail from CD Projekt Red studio head Adam Badowski announcing the mandatory six-day workweeks until launch. The overtime will be paid as dictated by Polish labour laws, and the release date of the game is a hard deadline on the crunch time. Both of these are, sadly, noteworthy when it come to crunch as several western AAA developers have a history of indefinite crunch periods with no extra pay.
I take it upon myself to receive the full backlash for the decision. I know this is in direct opposition to what we’ve said about crunch. It’s also in direct opposition to what I personally grew to believe a while back -- that crunch should never be the answer. But we’ve extended all other possible means of navigating the situation.
Employees can expect bonus payouts from 10% of the company's annual profits at the end of the project, which is pretty major considering the revenue CD Projekt SA works with. Keep in mind that the parent company also owns and operates GOG.com, a highly popular digital distribution platform. The announcement of the crunch period hurt more than CD Projekt's reputation though - their stocks also fell 3% according to Bloomberg.
Hopefully the employees of CD Projekt Red will pull through the crunch time with their health intact, and the company will learn from the development cycle of Cyberpunk 2077 to avoid crunch in the future. The game is sticking to its launch date of December 10, 2020.