Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red says it's taking the issue of crunch more seriously than it has in the past, and hopes to treat its workers "more humanely" during the development of its futuristic RPG.
Speaking with Kotaku, CDPR co-founder Marcin Iwiński stated that, while the company is "known for treating gamers with respect,” they would also like to be known for doing the same with its employees and workers.
The company plans to do that by more actively pushing its "non-obligatory crunch policy," which includes the understanding that requests for workers to work through nights and weekends are not binding or mandatory, a policy Iwiński says they've already been working toward. “We’ve been communicating clearly to people that of course there are certain moments where we need to work harder – like I think the E3 demo is a pretty good example – but we want to be more humane and treat people with respect," he told Kotaku. "If they need to take time off, they can take time off. Nobody will be frowned upon if this will be requested.”
CDPR has taken flak as an employer in recent years, most notably during the development of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, including reports of crunch time at the studio. In speaking with Kotaku, studio head Adam Badowski promised work-life balance during Cyberpunk 2077's development will be better. "I think we can promise that it’ll be better than The Witcher’s finishing period,” he said.
However, Kotaku also received reports from anonymous employees that development on Cyberpunk is about as rocky as Anthem's, which faced its share of development problems, though other employees also said their work hours have not been as severe.
The statements come in the wake of rumors and reports of crunch across several studios, including BioWare, NetherRealm Studios, the now-defunct Telltale, and more, making the work-life balance of workers at major game studios a major topic as of late.
It's good to know CDPR is going to be more forceful about making sure employees know they don't have to work overtime, but this feels more like a first step than a full initiative to me. Even if a stated policy says overtime isn't mandatory, it can hard to turn down a "voluntarily" request from boss. There can also be immense pressure from peers to put in extra work, especially when others are voluntarily working extra hours to make sure a project is at its best. Hopefully this is part of an overall attempt to move the company towards a less intensive work culture.