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For the record (Gaming)

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Monday, May 25, 2020, 10:50 (128 days ago) @ Cody Miller

So if you are someone who doesn’t want to crunch, go work in a different industry, or better yet, start your own “crunch-free” development studio. You’d have no problem attracting talent.


Nintendo has figured to how to avoid crunch. So it can be done. Animal Crossing was delayed in order to prevent crunch, and it's one of the biggest games in the world.

I said as much in my post above. I said that we’ve seen examples of good games being created with relatively little crunch (although even that claim is suspect... I bet if you asked the team “did you guys have to crunch on this game?” You’d get different answers depending on who you talked to). But even so, that’s 1 example. 1 data point. And popular as it is, animal crossing is not The Last of Us or God of War.

I think the tension at the core of this issue is that it is impossible to have a team of 150+ people create something groundbreaking, new, and innovative while also doing it on time and on budget. It’ll happen once in a while by sheer luck, but there is no reliable way for anyone to say “We’re going to do something that has never been done before, and it will be finished in exactly X hours and cost exactly Y dollars”.

One thing that would help, IMO, is if publishers did a better job of differentiating between “games as mass-produced entertainment product” and “games as innovative creative endeavour”. Valve got it right. They decided that they wanted every single game they released to be innovative and groundbreaking, and they knew that the only way to do that would be to break free from usual dev cycles. They needed to give themselves room to sink years into a project that might never get released if it didn’t click. So they went and developed an alternate revenue stream that was steady and reliable and would keep the lights on while funding their creative projects.

Once again, I think Ubisoft is close to achieving a similar level of freedom. But they don’t seem to be quite there yet. They still need every single game they release to be a big hit in terms of sales. But I could see a point in the near future where their ongoing “live service” games like For Honour or Rainbow 6 Siege are bringing in enough revenue that they can free up a team or two to explore more creative and risky endeavours, without crushing them under the kind of deadline restrictions that lead to crunch.


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