Embracer Group HR Is Taking A Stand Against Crunch

The gaming giant has shared a video explaining why crunch has to die.


While crunch has often been spun as a necessary evil in developing video games, one of the industry's biggest companies is taking a stand against it. Embracer Group, which came into the spotlight earlier this year after a massive round of acquisitions, has shared a video from one of its studio's HR heads explaining why crunch in the games industry should be a thing of the past.

The video comes from Dambuster Studios, the developers behind Dead Island 2, which is due to release soon, on February 3, 2023. As the studio enters what may be considered a crunch period at other studios, Dambuster's HR head Helen Haynes has shared why she thinks crunch shouldn't be necessary.

Coming from working HR in other industries, Haynes explains that plenty of other industries work to deliver projects on important deadlines without having to resort to "ridiculous" crunch practices. "The games industry is not that special," she says, denouncing crunch as a "right of passage, ego, machoismic rubbish [that] doesn't have to happen."

Haynes says that many of the techniques used to manage such punishing deadlines in other industries can and will work in game development, but still encourages studio HR to take into account the unique needs of the industry.

As for how studios can safeguard against crunch, Haynes has a few suggestions. One is for the industry to invest more in counselling for its employees rather than arbitrary disciplinary action, to safeguard workers' mental health. Haynes also calls out the higher levels of the industry, saying that managers and leaders need to be better looking after their teams.

With a huge number of studios under the Embracer Group, including Gearbox Entertainment, Crystal Dynamics, the THQ Nordic group, and more, it's heartening to see the company taking a public stand against crunch. In recent years the term has become less associated with bragging rights and more with poor working conditions. Embracer subsidary Gearbox is another studio that has publicly rejected crunch, saying that the practice was never required from devs working on Borderlands 3.

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