CD Projekt Red has gone back on a promise that developers wouldn’t be required to work overtime or face so-called “crunch time” in the run-up to November’s planned release of Cyberpunk 2077. That’s according to a Bloomberg report that cites an email from studio head Adam Badowski to employees, suggesting that employees would need to work “one day of the weekend” through launch to fix remaining bugs and glitches in the game.
“I know this is in direct opposition to what we’ve said about crunch,” the email continues, as Bloomberg reports. “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.”
“These last 6 weeks are our final sprint on a project we’ve all spent much of our lives on,” Badowski wrote in a tweeted statement in response to the report. “Something we care for deeply. The majority of the team understands that push, especially in light of the fact that we’ve just sent the game to cert and every day brings us visibly closer to shipping a game we want to be proud of.”
Cyberpunk 2077‘s planned release was originally scheduled for April of this year, before multiple delays pushed the planned release back, first to September and then to its current target of November 19. Further delay is apparently not on the table, as Badowski confirms the game has been sent to “cert,” i.e. the final certification process for console makers Sony and Microsoft that precedes production and release.
“This is one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make, but everyone is well compensated for every extra hour they put in,” Badowski continued via tweet, confirming the company’s adherence to Polish labor laws. “And, like in recent years, 10% of the annual profit our company generates in 2020 will be split directly among the team.”
A last resort
Back in 2019, Badowski told Kotaku that any requests for cyberpunk developers to work nights and weekends would not be mandatory. “I actually would [like] for us to also be known for treating developers with respect,” he said at the time. “If they need to take time off, they can take time off. Nobody will be frowned upon if this will be requested.”
In the same interview, though, Badowski seemed to acknowledge the potential for a last-minute, extra-work sprint like the one the company is facing today. “From a wider perspective, we need to remember that the whole production takes, say, four years, sometimes five years, and most of the time, like three years, there’s no crunch,” he said. “We are talking about the very last round towards the release. And it’s always difficult to manage, but you know that there are some complications. It’s really difficult not to use all the forces at the very end.”
So-called “crunch time,”—where harried developers are expected or required to work extra hours for extended periods in the run-up to a major game launch—has been a long-standing problem in the game industry, leading to reports of “100-hour work weeks” on major games like Red Dead Redemption 2. It’s a problem that has contributed to recent attempts to unionize workers across the game industry.
“The vast majority of game workers are in the industry because it’s our dream job, and working on games is our passion,” Emma Kinema, lead organizer for the Campaign to Organize Digital Employees, told Ars earlier this year. “Unfortunately, that passion can open us up to exploitation by our bosses, because we are simply grateful or content to have the job we have.”
Listing image by CD Projekt Red