The topic of “crunch,” or developers working long hours to complete milestones, has been much-discussed in the games industry over the years. Now, Swedish developer MachineGames, which develops the new Wolfenstein series for Bethesda, has commented on crunch.
In a recent Reddit AMA, production and tech boss John Jennings said the very nature of making games–and specifically “finding what’s fun”–is not so simple to model for when it comes to development timelines. He suggested that periods of crunch do occur at MachineGames, but the studio is trying to eliminate crunch, even if that makes life for the studio’s management more difficult.
“As you’re a developer I’m sure you know that crunch is a difficult topic,” Jennings said in response to a question from a fellow developer. “‘Finding what’s fun’ in games is so hard to schedule and plan for. The labour laws in Sweden are very prescriptive about what’s legal but crunch is also something that we’re actively working at eliminating from our studio, and I say that genuinely, rather than as some trite PR answer.”
“We’ve built a policy over the last 12 month[s] and we’re putting in a lot of effort to stick to it, even if that makes life for us in management more difficult from a business perspective sometimes.”
Jennings did not lay out any of the specifics regarding MachineGames’ policy regarding crunch.
Before this, the developer of Path of Exile took a hard stance against crunch, with its CEO saying he refuses to require his team to work long hours. This came after reports of the studios behind titles like Fortnite, Mortal Kombat 11, and Red Dead Redemption 2 reportedly pushing developers to work extremely long hours. Recently, the developer of the popular battle royale game Apex Legends said it wants to “avoid crunch that can quickly lead to burnout or worse.”
The next Wolfenstein title is Wolfenstein: Youngblood, which launches in July for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. A spinoff, the title lets you play as Soph or Jess Blazkowicz, who are B.J. Blazkowicz’s twin daughters. There is also an optional co-op mode, which is new for the franchise.