Cyberpunk 2077 Devs Reportedly Working 6-Day Weeks To Finish The Game
After indicating the studio would avoid crunch, it has now reportedly instituted mandatory six-day work weeks.
CD Projekt Red, the studio behind upcoming open-world RPG Cyberpunk 2077, has reportedly instituted a mandatory six-day work week that will be enforced until the launch of the game on November 19. Bloomberg reports that an employee, speaking under conditions of anonymity, has indicated that some staff have been working nights and weekends for over a year. [Update: CD Projekt Red has responded to this report, defending the last-minute crunch on Cyberpunk 2077.]
Additionally, Bloomberg states that, in an email, studio head Adam Badowski told the entire team that this was required to polish the game. "Starting today, the entire (development) studio is in overdrive," the email reportedly reads. This means that developers are required to commit to a normal work week of five days, along with an additional paid day (required by Polish labor laws) on the weekend, bringing the work week to six days.
Badowski also reportedly addressed a previous position stated by the studio that mandatory overtime would not be part of Cyberpunk 2077 development process. "I take it upon myself to receive the full backlash for the decision," he allegedly wrote.
"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.”
Crunch in video game development has been a big area of concern and discussion lately. CDPR previously stated that it wanted to avoid situations where developers are asked to put in extended periods of overtime towards the end of a project, and as a whole during the development process.
Speaking to Kotaku in June 2019, CDPR boss Marcin Iwiński was asked if the studio's employees could expect to have reasonable, eight-hour workdays while making the game. "We’ve committed to that already," he replied.
In another interview from 2019, however, CDPR Krakow boss John Mamais said the studio does its best to limit crunch, but it isn't always possible, indicating the no-crunch policy may not be as enshrined as previously suggested. "You sacrifice some things to do that and be part of [the development process]. There are a lot of people who come into the industry that are fresh; they don't really understand what it takes to do it," he said.
"So we get a lot of new guys coming in, and they go, 'Oh god, this is like too much.' But then we have other guys come in from Rockstar Games, and they're like, 'This is not even crunch!' We're doing the best we can to keep the work under control. But sometimes when you're doing some big-ass game like this, it's not always possible to do that. It takes really hard work to make it really awesome."
As part of a press conference in January of 2020, the studio seemed to further qualify this promise. CEO Adam Kicinski was asked in a Q&A session whether the team would need to crunch to finish Cyberpunk 2077. "To some degree, yes--to be honest," Kicinski said. "We try to limit crunch as much as possible, but it is the final stage. We try to be reasonable in this regard, but yes. Unfortunately."
Crunch, and the resulting mental and physical burnout associated with it, is an ongoing issue, as are the ethical concerns that arise alongside them. These are all familiar to CDPR as, in 2014, it was accused of asking its developers to crunch for over year while working on The Witcher 3. At the time, the studio didn't outright deny the accusations.
Cyberpunk 2077 is being developed by CD Projekt Red's Krakow and Warsaw studios. Although the exact nature of the work arrangements isn't clear, it's likely the team is still working from home as part of the social distancing measures required to combat the spread of COVID-19.
GameSpot has reached out to CDPR for clarification and comment on the matter. At the time of publishing, it has not provided a statement.
Cyberpunk 2077's release date has been set as November 19, following multiple delays. After the last delay, the studio committed to the current release date, saying it would not be delayed again. It will be available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, and PC.