Sections

Inside the development crunch pandemic – part two

Tuesday, 14 January 2014 07:45 GMT By Dave Cook

Talent burnout, hospitalisation and a culture of fear – is this what you sign up for when you enter games development? VG247′s Dave Cook continues his investigation into crunch.

You can find the first part of this feature here. In it, we discussed how Crytek’s tweet about Ryse: Son of Rome’s crunch period saw it hit by a public backlash, and I hear from developers working within the industry today about why they feel crunch happens. There are some pretty harrowing stories in there, some of which we elaborate on below.

Working cultures vary on a company-to-company basis, so it’s clear that the definition of development crunch time is both malleable and occasionally misrepresented. Several developers told me that yes, crunch is a disruptive aspect of development typically born from issues above their pay-grade, but in some cases it is entered into willingly to ensure projects ship at a certain level of quality. Games take years to create after all, and no one really wants to ship a poor product after all that work. Pride, it seems, is a double-edged sword in the games industry.

“I know people who have been hospitalised because of overworking. Alcoholism and substance abuse isn’t unheard of. Crunch isn’t a healthy lifestyle but, to a teenager, spending all night making video games and eating pizza sounds like a dream.”

In one instance, a UK-based developer told me that crunch founded in enthusiasm and that sense of pride should be distinguished from examples where overtime is forced. They explained, “I’d like to distinguish independent developers doing overtime out of a genuine love and enthusiasm, and larger developers mandating overtime in order to ship a product on time. I would never want to stop the former, but it can often muddy the waters when discussing the topic.

“There is also a element of bravado and trading war stories such as, ‘the time I rushed back from a gig in London to fix a build, and got out of the office at 5am,’ and, ‘spending weeks doing a full UK working day, then staying in the office for the Californian working day in case the publisher had any problems.’ While this feeling of camaraderie can at times be fun, it should not be seen as a genuine positive of crunch; this is resilience in the face of a bad situation.

“Mandated overtime means burning out talent, driving people out of the industry, and short-sighted thinking. Particularly for programming, it is ultimately self-defeating – once you reach a certain level of sleep deprivation, then you are creating more bugs than you are fixing. I know that for myself and many programmers, the best ideas come not while staring at a screen, but in the shower, or even the very moment I step out of the office and into the fresh air. Time spent in the chair is only loosely correlated with amount and quality of work done.”

I was repeatedly told that the definition of crunch can vary from a few hours overtime and a free pizza on your desk, to a full week of 12-hour shifts without compensation. The only constant is that either small or significant, any amount of overtime results in the disruption of a person’s work-life balance. Getting home late is one thing, but turning your social and home life on its head can bear serious mental and physical ramifications.

Unfortunately, this happens more than you’d want to believe and can result in fractured relationships, divorce and in one interviewee’s experience, thoughts of suicide. Some of the developers I spoke with revealed that their bosses regularly played the guilt card when trying to off-load their role in crunch, and countered that they should feel privileged to work in such a booming, fun industry. It’s easy to overlook the ‘cool,’ ‘laid-back’ image of the hip game designer chasing their dream when you’re working yourself into an early grave.

How damaging is crunch time?

Legislation governing what constitutes fair working hours varies from country to country. Here in Europe, the Working Time Directive states that EU workers have a legal right to a set holiday allowance, an 11 hour break for every 24-hours worked, and a cap of 48 working hours in any given week. Based on stories from my interviewees, such rules are regularly, legally broken within the games industry, and it was suggested that both internal HR departments and management are either unwilling to comply or change the working culture to fair standards.

“Taking a mental health day, just to get away from work for no real ‘reason,’ is maligned, ridiculed, or outright denied in a lot of cases. A lot of employers frown on taking vacation, even when that vacation is paid and a part of the employee’s compensation.”

If crunch is considered bad here, then reports coming out of China’s Foxconn manufacturing plant suggest that the nation’s working culture is worse. One employee at a Chinese firm told me, “Two of my colleagues got so depressed from the work and hours that we were doing that some of us were afraid they’d do something stupid. Maybe not suicide, although it did cross one of the two’s mind – he told me as much a short while ago – but certainly just running away without any preparation.”

It’s hard to fathom something as radical as simply up and leaving your place and work with no plan B, but it’s telling that these employees considered it. Other interviewees stressed that crunch understandably increased when they decided to start a family, while another stated that their colleagues became irritable once work mounted. Eventually, the sound of friends screaming abuse at one another across the office became a regular occurrence. The common image of workers lying awake at night, unable to sleep due to stress was also cited, and one respondent revealed that a friend’s wife asked him for a divorce due to the time he was spending at work.

Another employee – who currently rates his social life as “non-existent” – stated, “I’ve seen and experienced both physical and mental damage during crunch periods. I and others gain weight during crunch because the food provided is usually unhealthy (snacks and take-out meals for dinner). It’s also much more difficult to exercise regularly. I’ve personally had emotional breakdowns and experienced lots of stress because I’ve felt like I haven’t been effective enough at my job. I’ve seen colleagues leave the industry because they couldn’t do it any more.”

The point at which work impedes dangerously on a person’s well-being is subjective, as we each have our own tolerance for stress and capacity when working above and beyond our job descriptors. It’s reasonable to assume that a company – any company – would begin to take stock of its working practices, should an employee take ill as a result of being over-worked. For one of the developers who stood forward to speak with me, that simply didn’t happen.

“I know people who have been hospitalised because of overworking,” they said. “Alcoholism and substance abuse isn’t unheard of. Crunch isn’t a healthy lifestyle but, to a teenager, spending all night making video games and eating pizza sounds like a dream. I’ve worked with young people that see this as a right of passage and aspire to be working in a team doing exactly that. Have you ever tried telling a teenager not do something that’ll harm them longer term? Yeah, good luck with that.”

They added, “Every studio wants the best for their employees, without question. I know of various studios that have tried to pay overtime or have rules like ‘no crunch’ and all of them have failed and no longer exist. I’m not saying that crunch means success, far from it. The issue is that getting the freedom and means to do the best for your employees means you need stability and money. The games industry isn’t stable. The games industry is a constant gamble and the illusion of stability that a publisher brings with his big chequebook means unreasonable deadlines and crunch are sure to follow.”

“I saw a colleague actually sleep under his desk prior to E3 a few years ago. He’d just had a kid and was spending his evenings glued to server builds and not seeing those moments. That was when I made decision to get out AAA.”

We’re back in familiar territory now. It should now be clear that crunch is a regular problem in the games industry, and one that goes hand-in-hand with money. If clients – typically a publisher or hiring studio – are to keep funding a team, they will expect projects to be completed on time, within budget and with little complication. That means no changes to their master plan, no costly amendments and for the title to be shippable by launch. The targets simply must be met, even – it seems – if it costs employees their health and home-life.

One producer told me that his background is littered with crunch woes, and that he now works at a small indie studio. Part of his job is to actively avoid over-working his staff throughout development. He stressed, “Work-life balance is important for staying sane, staying healthy, staying motivated, and staying engaged, and even the most ardent, dedicated employee will get burned out eventually if all they do is work.

“It shows in their attitude and in the quality of their work, and if it goes unaddressed, it can have a ripple effect on the people around them. I think it’s important to have someone at work, whether it’s HR, a producer, a lead, or the CEO, who’s job (or part of it) is to ensure that the studio, and all the employees in it, maintains that balance as much as possible, even outside of crunch. If an employee is an asset to the studio, as every employee should be, someone at work should be empowered to say, ‘You’re hitting it too hard. Go home and get some rest.’”

“I think there’s a stigma against self-care,” he added, “not only in the games industry but in a lot of jobs in the United States. Taking a mental health day, just to get away from work for no real ‘reason,’ is maligned, ridiculed, or outright denied in a lot of cases. A lot of employers frown on taking vacation, even when that vacation is paid and a part of the employee’s compensation. It’s a culture that encourages or even demands that people put work before all else, and crunch is the worst-case example of that.”

It would be interesting to see just how many game studios out there actively employ someone to monitor workplace stress and to take steps when a worker is clearly suffering as a result. Human resources teams are a staple in many companies, but when I asked my interviewees if their own departments saw any real HR assistance during crunch, or other forms of compensation, the idea was routinely scoffed at.


Can anything be done?

You’d like to think that there’s always someone to talk to when work starts to negatively impact your life. On more than one occasion, the developers I spoke with revealed that they had been laughed at when highlighting problems to their resident HR professionals, with one person saying that HR simply, “aren’t on your side.’ This paints a worrying image of how crunch time is regarded in the games industry. I asked the group if their superiors really felt that the problem is immune to change, and if they were ever offered any rewards for their extra effort.

In one instance, an interviewee told me that their workplace only recently established an HR department, while another explained that in their experience, being paid extra for an unreasonable amount of overtime simply didn’t happen. “I’ve never heard of anyone being paid overtime during crunch. The overwhelming majority of people I know in the industry are salaried, and it’s very easy to overlook things like overtime when you’re a salaried employee.

“I think the games industry is one of many industries guilty of exploiting the salaried/hourly (or exempt vs. non-exempt, in reference to overtime guidelines) delineation of employees, greatly to the benefit of the employer. If studios had to pay out overtime for all their employees, I think the work-life balance and the attitude towards crunch would be a lot different.”

“You were deducted year bonus ‘points’ for leaving at six, even if you only did it once a week. Six or seven day weeks were also not at all uncommon. When we saw the tweet from Crytek my colleagues and I joked to each other that at least they got their meals fully compensated.”

Recalling a notably flagrant breach of HR policy, one UK developer claimed, “I saw a colleague actually sleep under his desk prior to E3 a few years ago. He’d just had a kid and was spending his evenings glued to server builds and not seeing those moments. That was when I made decision to get out of AAA.” He added that the possibility of overtime is often written into work contracts, and that most experienced employees instantly recognise it as an inevitability, rather than something that may occur. He agreed that if you’re lucky, you may even be provided with guidelines on how to deal with the extra workload and minimise any attached health issues.

Speaking of HR guidelines and contracts, another British employee stated that while all the studios he knows work to comply with employment legislation, they also work opt-outs from the Working Time Directive into employee contracts knowingly, meaning they can be overworked without repercussion. On potential compensation he added, “Here is where it gets really dodgy: bonuses. Or at least the hope or promise of a bonus. The temptation for crunch is that the game does better, sells millions upon millions and everyone gets to be the next Scrooge McDuck, swimming in gold. Never happens. Unless you’re the publisher.”

In Japan, one developer stated that his previous firm doled out bonuses as reward for hitting an “imaginary milestone,” and and suggested that it was “hush money,” more than anything else – a way to keep employees both compliant and to stop them from talking about their treatment externally. When I asked if he had ever approached the company’s HR department to raise a complaint he simply replied, “Hehe. Good one.” My interviewee in China then added that when he raised crunch to his superiors he was simply told, “We don’t do crunch”, and nothing more was said on the matter.

I quizzed another developer in China on the issue of HR and attempts to hear out employee concerns. They told me, “There was an overtime clause in the contract which I signed before I moved there, but when I arrived they told me it was a lie and the head of HR laughed at me. These were western people working in China. Work weeks of 70+ [hours] were absolutely the norm for quite a long time.

“You were deducted year bonus ‘points’ for leaving at six, even if you only did it once a week. Six or seven day weeks were also not at all uncommon. When we saw the tweet from Crytek my colleagues and I joked to each other that at least they got their meals fully compensated. Quite a few people around me actually just browsed the internet half the time, because they knew they were required to stay late anyway or else they’d incur the wrath of HR.”

It seems almost foreign to hear about working environments where the benefits of human resources simply do not apply, but it sounds both morally and professionally unjust to force a 70 hour working week on an individual without the right to reply. In some cases these people have been threatened with deducted bonuses and plainly ridiculed for daring to speak up. It’s understandable then, that they all asked me to keep them anonymous in this piece. When employees are afraid of speaking openly to their superiors about workplace issues without feeling like they will be punished, that’s the hallmark of a fear culture, pure and simple.

But surprisingly, while most of the developers had negative experiences to share, a few of them had since moved on to companies that have always tried – or were at least recently trying – to combat the negative aspects of crunch. If there’s a silver lining to take away from some of the horror stories in this and other articles on the matter, it’s that some – not all – studios are now appraising the working culture and looking for ways to take the strain away from employees. However, it will take time to gauge if these efforts are bearing fruit.

Silver linings?

One developer in particular seemed to get lucky with several employers. “At my first firm we were promised bonuses, whatever the amount of time we spent working,” they explained. “Sometimes we got it, sometimes we didn’t. In my current firm we don’t get paid overtime, but we can get a few days off after the crunch, or some comfort like longer lunch breaks, leaving home early in the evening and that sort of thing.

“Once, after a short crunch time, the firm rented a whole video game arcade for an evening with the machines unlocked and we were allowed to order any food we wanted, all on the house. There were prizes to win such as PS3′s and 360′s, Kinects, Razer computer accessories. So no money, but a big big thank you.”

“The firm I’m working for now tries to do as much as possible to avoid crunch,” they added. “Even if we have to work hard for an extended period of time, we can always go to a special room with light music, comfortable sofas and comics. Producers try and get extra people on a team if they see things are going to be tough and, sometimes, features are removed in order to reduce the amount of work to do.”

Another worker explained, “Currently the studio I’m at does a regular work to time review, so if a milestone is in danger we can revise time or man power to it. Crunch does happen but it’s usually a few hours for a few days tops every few months. Far better.” Someone else said, “[My company] removed mandatory crunch after feedback and usually planned things properly. They would also catch features that could easily snowball, make sure they were scoped properly, and constantly check on their status.”

You’ll notice that any attempts to rectify crunch woes are being out-weighed by the negative anecdotes. My interviewees had many varied stories to tell regarding crunch time horrors, and the perception of significant periods of unpaid overtime. Some of them admitted to working between 70-80 hours a week at some point, and were pessimistic when I asked them if things could change for the better.

This pessimism was one of a few things almost all of them had in common, despite coming from studios of various sizes and from different ends of the Earth. It’s a grim consensus, but each of them contacted me in the hope of sharing their stories both publicly and without reprisal.

They also hoped that the decision-makers at offending companies would read their stories here, take a second to think about how they treat their employees and possibly consider reappraising their culture.

I’m not sure if that will happen, but this is an issue that needs to be discussed openly if it is to be addressed.

Over to you, executives.

Latest

  • Metal Gear Solid movie in the works at Sony Pictures

    A Metal Gear Solid film is in the making at Sony Pictures. Deadline is reporting that Sony Pictures has closed a deal to make a film adaptation of Metal Gear Solid. The film will be written by Jay Basu, with Jordan Vogt-Roberts attached to direct. Michael De Luca is said to be heading production. There […]

  • Destiny: Inferno mode returns this week with Inferno Clash

    Inferno mode returns to Destiny this week. This time it’s Inferno Clash. The Inferno playlist will be back to The Crucible rotation in Destiny this week. Unlike last month’s Control, Clash will be the mode variant this time. The main changes Inferno brings to the game is the removal of the radar (mini-map), scoring is […]

  • Bladestorm: how 28 rogue ninja conquered Brittany

    The Hundred Years War wasn’t ended by the superior forces of the French cavalry: it was ninja. Bladestorm: Nightmare Battlefield sim. Take control of dozens of unit types. You play a mercenary, fighting for both France and England, usually at your own discretion. Unit variations liven things up; Lady Lancers replace Knights. Vikings replace Swords. […]

  • First Bloodborne speedrun is in, game finished in under 45 minutes

    Bloodborne has been out for less than a week in most parts of the world and the first speedrun record has already been achieved. YouTuber Oginam_tv managed to finish Bloodborne in under 50 minutes. Of course not without utilising more than his fair share of exploits, including level-skipping glitches, as well as the item duplication […]

  • Advanced Warfare Infection gameplay shows the new map, monsters, extraction mechanic

    We’ve got some new gameplay footage from Advanced Warfare’s Exo Zombies episode 2 – Infection. Arekkz went to L.A. this past weekend and played the new map that Infection brings to Exo Zombies mode in Advanced Warfare. The map is noticeably larger than that of the first episode, with more branching paths you can unlock. […]

  • Hotline Miami collector’s edition is close, 50% already achieved

    The Hotline Miami crowdfunding effort to produce a special collector’s edition is going strong with 50% of the target achieved. Gamer Network’s collector’s edition initiative has announced that funding for the Hotline Mimi Gamer’s Edition has reached 50% of its goal, with just over nine days to go. The collector’s edition is a one-of-a-kind bundle […]

  • Woah Dave will be an extra free PS+ game on PS4 in April

    Indie platformer Woah Dave will be made free to PlayStation Plus members on PlayStation 4 in April, but it’s not part of the month’s main Plus offering. Woah Dave is a “secret” April PlayStation Plus game, according to Sony. The game is a 2D platformer that received positive feedback when it was released on PS […]

  • Mortal Kombat X: three international tourneys announced, $100,000 prize pool

    Warner Bros. has announced a new series of Mortal Kombat X tournaments with a prize pool starting at $100,000. Mortal Kombat X Worldwide Competitive Program is a series of tournaments that kick off in April and allow players from the around the world participation. The tournaments are the Fatal 8 Exhibition Tournament, Mortal Kombat X […]

  • Project CARS to receive a free car every month, starting with the Lykan Hypersport

    The Lykan Hypersport, the supercar featured in one of Furious 7′s action set-pieces, will be a free download for Project CARS owners. To thank the fans for their patience throughout Project CARS development and several delays, developer Slightly Mad will be giving all owners one in-game car for free each month. The first car will […]

  • Leaked Halo Online gameplay shows weapons, maps, and more

    Gameplay from the upcoming, Russia only, Halo Online has leaked online and it looks like a mix of Halo 3 and Halo Reach. Microsoft announced last week that a free-to-play Halo game is in development at Saber Interactive. The game will be available in Russia only, at least on launch. YouTuber Noble, with the help […]

  • Get PlayStation 4 with the PS Camera and The Last of Us for $399

    US retailer Best Buy is offering a free PlayStation Camera with the purchase of The Last of Us PS4 bundle. If you’re in the US, Best Buy is having a very good deal on PlayStation 4 systems at the moment. If you buy The Last of Us PS4 bundle, you’ll automatically get the PS Camera […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition Jaws of Hakkon DLC comes to PS4 in May

    Dragon Age: Inquisition Jaws of Hakkon DLC has been given a release window for PS3, PS4, and Xbox 360. Jaws of Hakkon, the first story add-on to Dragon Age: Inquisition was released last week on PC and Xbox One. The release was a complete surprise, as there was no prior announcement. What was also surprising […]

  • Watch Rainbow Six Siege developers stream new gameplay right now

    Rainbow Six Siege developers are about to livestream new gameplay footage. Come and watch with us. The livestream below starts at 7pm UK time/6pm GMT. Ubisoft will be showing new gameplay footage and will talk more about the operator system, which was revealed today. The footage will be from the PC alpha build. Expect more […]

  • Advanced Warfare Exo Zombie Infected trailer shows new weapons, massive enemy

    Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Exo Zombies episode 2, Infected, has been shown off in a new trailer. The official trailer for Exo Zombies Infected is here with footage of the new gear and new enemies. All of which help set up the mess everyone’s making at Burger Town. John Malkovich and co are dropped […]

  • Rainbow Six Siege collector’s edition comes with a 120-page field manual

    Rainbow Six Siege will be getting a collector’s edition and it comes with a 120-page guide. The Rainbow Six Siege collector’s edition has been fully detailed. It’s called the “Art of Siege Edition” and will be available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, priced £65. Here’s what you get: A copy of the game […]

  • Rainbow Six Siege trailer is all about the operators

    Rainbow Six Siege has a new trailer available explaining the operator system. Operators are what makes any Counter Terrorist Unit and you will get to choose each of them individually before assembling a team. Any operator you choose will not be available for others though, so planning ahead will be crucial. The new trailer shows […]

  • Spotify now available on PS3 and PS4, lets you play music in the background

    Spotify has arrived on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. The Spotify app is now available in 42 countries on PSN. The app was part of last week’s firmware update and can be found under PlayStation Music. Anyone can download it, as it doesn’t require PlayStation Plus. You can use your PSN account to subscribe to […]

  • Let’s talk Battlefield Hardline weapon balance

    The weapon balance in Battlefield Hardline is causing a controversy among the players. Are some weapons too powerful, or are other not powerful enough? Westie has been playing Battlefield Hardline since it the day it came out and he has some opinions about the state of weapon balance as it stands right now. Westie also […]

  • UK Charts: Bloodborne enters at No. 2, Battlefield Hardline defends No. 1 spot

    Battlefield Hardline has defended the No. 1 spot in the UK Charts against Bloodborne’s impressive numbers. The UK Charts for the week ending March 28 show Battlefield Hardline continuing to hold the top spot despite dropping 43% in sales. Bloodborne achieved the No. 2 spot and came only 22,500 copies short of becoming number 1. […]

  • Halo 5: Guardians release date and new trailers released

    Halo 5 is coming in October. Are you ready? Halo 5: Guardians has been slapped with a release date of October 27. Microsoft and 343 Industries also released a new trailer to mark the news; check it out below. “The Master Chief. Spartan Locke. Who is the hunter and who is the hunted?” Microsoft said […]

  • Denial wins Call of Duty Championship 2015

    In a weekend where favourites crashed out and non-US teams took a beating, Denial stepped up to take the title and $400,000 prize Denial have beaten Revenge to win the Call of Duty Championship 2015, claiming a $400,000 prize. Taking place in downtown Los Angeles, 32 of the best teams in the world battled it […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Ascendance DLC- check out new maps and the grapple ability

    Advanced Warfare’s Ascendance DLC is looking pretty sweet in these two new videos. The Call of Duty Championships this weekend have given our very own Arekkz a chance to check out the new Ascendance DLC coming this month. Take a look at all four new maps as well as the cool new grapple ability (which […]

  • Advanced Warfare’s Exo Zombies gets a “mini boss” with Ascendance DLC

    Zombies mode gets an exo-kick up the ass with Advanced Warfare’s second DLC drop, Ascendance. When Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s Ascendance DLC drops this week, players will be going up against some tougher challenges in Exo Zombies mode. “It’s all zombies, all of the time,” says High Moon Studios Matt Tieger, head of the […]

  • GTA Online user videos show out of character Lester, important Police Business

    You know, Lester isn’t as soft as he lets on, at least in these two GTA Online videos he’s not. The first one below is from YouTube user 10Phoenix01 Gamer, showing Lester kick a guy’s ass. It’s apparently punishment for running over the player – at least that’s the way it appears. A second video […]

  • Guild Wars 2 devs explain how the Map Bonus system, precursor crafting work in Heart of Thorns

    ArenaNet has posted information on the Guild Wars 2 website explaining how crafting mastery, and crafting a legendary weapon, will work in the Heart of Thorns expansion. There’s also information on the new Map Bonuses system, which will make acquiring crafting materials a more “directed activity” and streamlined experience. The new system will also add […]

  • Fly around your creations in Cities: Skylines with the Flight Cimulator mod

    Cities: Skylines players can now fly over their creations thanks to the Flight Cimulator mod. Created by Ulysius and available through the Steam Workshop, the mod allows the user to simulate flight through simple controls. According to the mod notes, it is still a work in progress as Ulysius plans to add building collisions , […]

  • The Walking Dead, Better Call Saul arrive on PlayStation Vue

    Sony has announced the addition of AMC to its PlayStation Vue service, which soft launched in Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia earlier this month. Those who use the service can now get their Better Call Saul and The Walking Dead fix, and also watch the Sundance channel, WEtv and IFC. AMC and WEtv are […]

  • Play the first level of Super Mario 64 in your browser

    Thanks to Roystan Ross and the Unity engine, you can play the first level of Super Mario 64 in your browser. This little nugget came to my attention yesterday, and unfortunately it became lost on my worksheet. Better late than never, I suppose. Anyway, the level is free-to-play and if you don’t wish to play […]

  • Steam’s Discovery Update has helped increase revenue for smaller titles

    Valve has said its Discovery Queue has increased product page views across Steam by 30% since the company launched the Discovery Update. According to Valve, 75% of those views come from the Discovery Queue, and 16% of product views can be attributed to the Discovery Queue. Even Steam Tags clicks have increased. The system is […]

  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection April update includes “more ranked playlists”

    The next content update for Halo: The Master Chief Collection will “address a variety of issues across the game,” according to 343 Industries, including specific improvements to ranking. New quit and betrayal penalties are also in the works as the development team prepares to roll out ranks to additional playlists. According to 343, the latest […]

10 Comments

  1. Pytox

    70 80 hours insane i would instantly quit there

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Lloytron

    Crunch time is a nightmare. As for the comment about HR, the clue is in the name there – Human Resources. You are just a resource for the company to utilise.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. GamezIdiot

    Link to part one is broken.

    Bit sad this isn’t generating more discussiion. Maybe it’s a reflectiion that the gaming community just doesn’t care as long as they get their games.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. tenthousandgothsonacid

    “that HR simply, “aren’t on your side.’”

    I’ve yet to work in any industry where HR are on your side. They’re just there to smooth over the fact that you’re being fucked over.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. bradk825

    This needed to be written. Good work Dave.

    For an industry supposedly so cutting-edge, there are practices described here that have been outdated for decades. The mentality of “if you don’t like it don’t work here” or “you should feel privileged to be fucked by us” is for cave men. For any employer/employee relationship to be a good one, there needs to be a partnership of sorts. I have personally never had a manager with this “you work for me and not the other way around” attitude, and I hope I never will.

    The fact that it’s happening even in developed nations is particularly surprising. You’d expect it in places where workers have no rights, but in the UK, US, etc?

    I am curious how much changed at EA post-law suit. I am thinking a slew of these law suits need to be brought forward. If there is a shift from crunch being something the money-man has a right to expect, to something that causes legal exposure, we could see a pretty sudden shift. This is just one theory from someone who doesn’t have a clue, but whatever, it’s an internet forum, I’ll say what I want, lol.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. GrimRita

    This just isn’t exclusive to the games industry. In most cases, when the ‘crunch’ hits, it will always be hands on deck, especially for small developers.

    Then, people have some time to recover. At least that’s how I remember it during my days in QA. Over time was there, lots of money to be made and the company did treat us lots (nights out, parties, finishing early most Fridays).

    In the ‘real world’ outside of gaming, companies expect staff to put in the hours, with little or no reward.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. Doppleganger

    @5
    I work in a environment such as what you described but you do realize they are paying you money?
    Its not like your doing them favours.
    Its rare to have that brotherly relationship environment in the workplace and if you have it, stick to it as theres really shitty ass jobs out there.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. bradk825

    @7 Not really sure what you mean. I’ve had several different jobs and none of them involved treatment even close to what I am reading about here. Yes, I understand they are paying me, but that paycheck does not translate to ownership, or mean that my fundamental rights and freedoms are for sale. I work hard for the money I am paid, because of mutual respect.

    Any time I have had a legit concern I’ve been able to share it, and have never been told if I don’t like it I should find another job.

    Let’s take another unacceptable behaviour as an example to translate this. Imagine a guy greets his secretary every morning with “any chance you’ll suck my dick today?” Finally she goes to HR about it, and they say “He’s the boss, what I really don’t understand is why you haven’t sucked his dick yet.” Clearly the employer is in the wrong and there needs to be a change right? The name on the cheque doesn’t change that.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. sh4dow

    On the first part of this, I only bothered to write a critical comment about a quote because the mentality which I suspected behind it is what enabled/enables companies to get away with this much in the first place.

    But obviously, these articles are great overall, very important and I hereby express my gratitude for them as well.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. sh4dow

    @7 Basically “What bradk825 said”.
    I have also worked outside of the bigger sphere called “the creative industry” and there was always striving for treating people decently. No unpaid work, little overtime (if at all) and they always made sure that people had all basic necessities (unlike some companies I’ve worked at recently, where they regularly ran out of toilet paper, tried to save money by canceling a water delivery service, didn’t have frequent enough cleaning service, etc.). And I’ve worked in very varied fields, almost none of them even requiring higher education – as I didn’t have one back then yet.

    #10 1 year ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

  • The Legend of Zelda Wii U: 2015 release not a “priority”, skipping E3

    The Legend of Zelda franchise producer Eiji Aonuma is featured in the latest video update on the status of The Legend of Zelda for Wii U, stating a 2015 release is no longer a “number one priority” for the team. While Aonuma never specifically says the game has been delayed into 2016, the announcement confirms […]

  • Destiny gameplay designer exits for Bethesda

    Destiny’s senior gameplay designer Josh Hamrick announced on Twitter overnight he would be leaving the company in a week’s time for Bethesda. Hamrick joined Bungie in 2009 after working two years at Midway Austin, where he created multiplayer maps, modified single-player levels, and other designer functions. He was in charge of fixing bug in code […]

  • What to expect from the Call of Duty Championship this weekend

    Just settling down to the Call of Duty Championship this weekend? Here’s a rundown of today’s matches and what else to expect over the next three days. The Call of Duty Championship is taking place in LA this weekend until Sunday, with 32 four-player teams battling it out for a prize pot of $1 million. […]

  • MLB 15 The Show video highlights improved graphics, updated grass patterns

    Sony has released a video for MLB 15 The Show which provides a look at graphical improvements made to the game. Along with the visual upgrade over MLB 14 The Show, the game contains new minor league stadiums, dynamic sun generated in real-time, and upgraded grass patterns which reflect each stadium’s unique look. MLB 15 […]

  • Valve to offer HTC Vive Developer Edition free to qualified developers

    Valve has said it will offer the HTC Vive Developer Edition for free to qualified developers in an effort to buoy projects before the tech launches commercially. Surgeon Simulator developer Bossa Studios and The Room studio Fireproof Games are just some of the developers which already have a free Vive in-hand. According to Valve’s Doug […]

  • DriveClub gameplay video features MotorStorm’s off-road buggies

    Some gameplay footage of MotorStorm’s off-road buggies in DriveClub has surfaced. Pictures of the buggies were shown on the Japanese PlayStation Blog earlier this month, which considering the game was developed by Evolution Studios – which developed MotorStorm – this isn’t too much of a surprise. The buggies were first spotted by Videogamer, which pulled […]

  • Mortal Kombat X live-action TV spot features the track Chop Suey

    The TV sport for Mortal Kombat X has been released, and not only does it contain a “spontaneous fight circle” taking over an entire city, but it features the System of a Down track Chop Suey. Mortal Kombat X will be released on PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One April 14. The […]

  • Bloodborne Forbidden Woods progression bug caused by multiplayer summon

    A progression bug in Bloodborne is in the works, according to Sony and From Software. The issue occurs when players activate a multiplayer session in the Forbidden Woods using the Sinister Resonant Bell or Small Resonant Bell. It also appears the Lunarium Key won’t appear because of the multiplayer bug, and without the key you […]

  • Yo-Kai Watch game franchise has sold over 7 million copies

    The Yo-Kai Watch IP has sold over 7 million copies, according to developer Level-5. The figure included both physical and digital download sales. Yo-Kai Watch 3 will be unveiled during Level-5 Vision 2015 next month. The first title is in the works for the west but is still without a release window. Thanks, Gematsu.

  • Bloodborne trademark returned to Sony after accidentally losing it

    In case you were worried or anything, Sony has once again obtained the Bloodborne trademark. Earlier this week it was revealed that Sony mistakenly abandoned the Bloodborne trademark along with four others registered with US Patent and Trademark Office: Guns Up!, Kill Strain; How Games Were Made to Sound, and No Heroes Allows: No Puzzles […]

  • GTA 5 PC official trailer coming next week, 15 new screenshots released

    New PC screenshots of GTA 5 have been released along with word of a new trailer coming on Monday. The screens below are from the PC version and you can view them in 4K glory over on Rockstar Newswire. The PC version of GTA 5 releases on April 14.

  • PSN real-time server status page launching in Europe soon

    PlayStation users in Europe will soon have its own a PSN Service Status Indicator. It was released earlier this month in North America. The indicator makes it easier to check whether PlayStation services are down or running as planned. This includes account management, PlayStation Now, the store, social services, etc. Sony told Eurogamer the service […]

  • Exclusivity contract prevents Bioware from revealing Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC release on PS4

    Bioware is unable to discuss when the Jaws of Hakkon DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition will arrive on platforms other than PC and Xbox One. According to various tweets from executive producer Mark Darrah, due to the exclusivity contract between EA and Microsoft, the studio is unable to announce a release date for PlayStation 3 […]

  • LEGO Batman 3 demo, Namco Museum, more added to North American eShop

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with a demo for LEGO Batman 3, Namco Museum on Wii U Virtual Console, and various sales. Below is the full update. Nintendo eShop Dot Arcade – Wii U LEGO Ninjago – 3Ds LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham Demo – Wii U Harvest Moon: The […]

  • Square Enix’s Easter Surprise bundle contains five mystery PC games

    Square Enix offering another mystery bundle to customers in the UK, which comes with five mystery PC games for £3.99. As before, customers will be unaware of the games they are purchasing in the mystery bundle, but the bundle contains triple-A titles worth £40 combined. One of Square’s previous mystery bundles contained Tomb Raider, Just […]

  • From Software’s PSone game Shadow Tower coming to PSN

    Shadow Tower, the first-person action-RPG developed for the original PlayStation by From Software, will be released on PlayStation Network. In the 1998 title, players took on the role of a mercenary who has returned home to the Holy Land of Zeptar to find the place has been sucked into the Underworld. He must use the […]

  • PlayStation TV gets price cut in the UK, now £44.99

    PlayStation TV has received a price cut in the UK. After several retailers started offering the console for less than the RRP of £84.99, users on DealSpwn began to wonder whether this is an official price cut, and not just regular deals or stock clearance. Sony later confirmed the new price of £44.99. “Starting from […]

  • Fast & Furious expansion for Forza Horizon 2 is now available, for free

    You can download Forza Horizon 2 expansion Fast & Furious starting right now. Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious is available to download now through Xbox Live for Xbox One and Xbox 360. The expansion is standalone, so you don’t need to own Forza Horizon 2 to play it. It’s also free from now […]

  • Fire-based weapons come to PayDay 2 with the Butcher’s BBQ Pack

    The 20th DLC for PayDay 2, the Butcher’s BBQ Pack, is now available on Steam. The DLC will run you $4.99/€4.99 and features: Piglet Grenade Launcher, 12G Steakout Shotgun and Mk1 Flamethrower Molotov cocktails and incendiary ammo Four new masks, patterns, materials and achievements The Butcher’s BBQ Pack is another co-development between Overkill and Croatian […]

  • Lords of the Fallen developer offers Hideo Kojima a job

    Amid the current turmoil between Hideo Kojima and publisher Konami, one studio has offered the legendary designer a position. Lords of the Fallen developer Deck 13 took to Twitter to extend a job offer to Hideo Kojima. Dear Mr. @HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN In case you are currently searching, we have an open position as Head of Game […]

  • Destiny Xur update: should you buy MIDA Multi Tool?

    The question on every Destiny player’s lips today. And the answer, supplied by resident Destiny expert Paul Davies, is… Yes! We asked Paul whether or not he thought Xur’s Exotic weapon this week was worth the 23 Strange Coins. Here’s what he said: “It was already a great gun to own for PVP owing to […]

  • Final Fantasy 15 has an all-male cast to make it “more approachable”

    According to Final Fantasy 15 director Hajime Tabata, the main cast of the game is all-male because it makes the game “more approachable.” Final Fantasy 15 director Hajime Tabata spoke to Gamespot about the reason for his choice of making the core cast an all-male affair. “Speaking honestly, an all-male party feels almost more approachable […]

  • Hearthstone Blackrock Mountain is coming April 2

    Blizzard has given Hearthstone expansion Blackrock Mountain a solid release date. Hearthstone’s Blackrock Mountain adventure pack will be released April 2 in the Americas region, and April 3 in Europe, Korea, Taiwan, and China. Blackrock Depths is the first wing to be released, others will follow one week apart. Other than the 31 new cards, […]

  • Bloodborne: if you can’t load your save after installing firmware 2.50, this will help

    If you’re having issues loading your Bloodborne save after applying firmware update 2.50 to your PS4, this should help you out. Reddit user KBALLZZ encountered an issue after installing update 2.50 on his PlayStation 4. Bloodborne started reinstalling the day one patch again and when it was done he couldn’t continue his game or load […]

  • Use this code to get 10% off on PSN purchases

    Sony is offering a 10% discount coupon to anyone looking to buy games on PlayStation Store this weekend. Sony’s latest discount coupon code is here. You’ll receive 10% off your cart total when buying from the PSN Store. The offer is not valid on purchases made on PS Vita, PlayStation TV, PSP, or in-game stores. […]

  • Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin upgrade path announced, system specs revealed

    Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin will offer returning customers a chance to upgrade at a discounted price. Those who already own Dark Souls 2 on Steam and are interested in picking up the Scholar of the First Sin edition will be happy to know that publisher Bandai Namco is offering them an […]

  • Bloodborne: this is what happens when you have 40 Insight

    Insight is one of the currencies in Bloodborne, but it’s also a mechanic that affects the gameplay. There are MASSIVE SPOILERS below, so turn back now or one of Bloodborne’s gameplay mechanics will be SPOILED for you. Just like Blood Echoes in Bloodborne, Insight is used to purchase certain items from vendors in the game. […]

  • Phase two of Xbox One April update brings voice messages, dedicated servers for party chat, more

    The second phase of the April update for Xbox One is now open to members of the Preview programme and and it looks like there are even more features in store. Phase one of Xbox One’s April firmware update started a few days ago with improvements to party chat and achievements notifications. Today, phase two […]

  • GTA 5′s graphical “downgrade” is a bug, will be fixed in upcoming patch

    As of patch 1.8 for GTA 5 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, a few graphical issues have cropped up leading some to believe there has been a stealth downgrade to the game’s overall graphics. Over the past couple of days, Reddit went nuts over a video showing what appears to be a downgrade to […]

  • Destiny: Xur location and inventory for March 27, 28 – MIDA Multi-Tool edition

    Xur: Agent of the Nine has arrived at The Tower in Destiny to rid you of your Strange Coins. Xur: Agent of the Nine has once again made it to Destiny’s Tower to sell you Exotic weapons and gear in exchange for Strange Coins and Motes of Light. For this weekend, Xur can be found […]

  • Destiny vault space upgrade will have enough room for every Exotic

    Destiny is finally getting the vault space upgrade players have been begging for almost since launch week. Destiny players can currently use vault space to store 20 pieces of amour, 20 weapons and 20 general item stacks. In the latest Bungle Weekly Update, the developer revealed that as of patch 1.1.2, due before House of […]

  • Half-Life 2: Update mod applies some sparkle to the original title

    Half-Life 2: Update will be available tomorrow, and thanks to the modding community, those who own the vanilla version of the game can apply a visual update to the 2004 title. The comparison video shows you the differences between the original version, and the version with Half-Life 2: Update applied. Here’s what the mod includes: […]

  • Neverwinter MMO can now be pre-downloaded on Xbox One

    You can now pre-download the free-to-play Neverwinter MMO on Xbox One. The game launches on March 31, but you will still need an Xbox Live Gold account to play it. Based on the Dungeons & Dragons franchise, the game can be downloaded from the Xbox Store.

  • Destiny of Spirits will go offline starting next month

    Sony will be ending service for Destiny of Spirits starting next month, Sony has announced. The free-to-play Destiny of Spirits was released in late March 2014 on Vita, and tasked players with collecting supernatural forces appropriate to their geographical location, and then trading them with others online. Gravity Rush spirits were added to the game […]

  • MotoGP 15 is out this spring on PC, last and current-gen consoles

    MotoGP 15 will be released in June on PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, Milestone has announced. Bike, rider and team customization are part of the latest release in the franchise, along with time-trials and enhanced career options. The game features over 20 bike models divided into three classes: MotoGP, Moto 2 […]

  • Cities: Skylines players should check out Nakatomi Plaza and Wayne Enterprises

    Nakatomi Plaza and Wayne Enterprises can now be yours in Cities: Skylines. Die Hard fans will be familiar with Nakatomi Plaza. Those who have never watched the first film and live in Los Angeles know it by its real-life name, FOX Plaza. It was created by Enos Shenk and is available through Steamworks. Those who […]

  • Call of Duty franchise has sold 175M copies, players have thrown 300B grenades

    With the Call of Duty Championship kicking off tomorrow, Activision has sent over a series infographic full of interesting figures such as the number of copies sold over 10 years and how many grenades players have tossed. According to the stats below, the Call of Duty franchise has sold 175 million copies across all platforms […]

  • Save up to 75% on select SEGA games on Steam this weekend

    SEGA has put many of its games on sale through Steam this weekend and the firm has also announced Eastside Hockey Manager is now available through Early Access. The sale runs through March 30. The entire Total War, Company of Heroes and Dawn of War back catalogs are discounted 75% and all associated DLC is […]

  • Batman: Arkham Knight PC confirmed as digital download-only in UK

    Batman: Arkham Knight will indeed be a download-only title on PC in the UK, Warner Bros. has confirmed to VG247. Batman: Arkham Knight will be available as both a physical and digital release for PS4, Xbox One and PC in North America and Europe. Again, in the UK, the PC version will be “available as […]

  • Rainbow Six Siege release date set for October per GameStop Italy – report

    GameStop Italy may have let the release date for Rainbow Six Siege slip if a recent listing is accurate. According to the listing, the game will release on October 16. While this could be a placeholder date, October 16 is a Friday in the UK, the usual day new releases land at retail. The release […]

  • Watch the $1 million Call of Duty Championship right here

    The The Call of Duty Championship takes place this weekend, and you can watch all the action as it unfolds right here. The event takes place in Los Angeles tomorrow March 27 and runs through March 29, and the livestreams are below. 32 teams from five continents and 11 countries will be competing in Call […]

  • Battlefield Hardline: Battlefest kicks off this weekend with Double XP

    A new season of Battlefest kicks off this weekend, and starting today, you will earn Double XP in Battlefield Hardline. Battlefest for Hardline is similar to the event held for Battlefield 4 last year. For the entire month of April and into May, in-game events and competitions will be held by the developers and player […]

  • Don’t forget: the GTA 5 PC pre-order bonus cutoff is March 31

    Just a friendly reminder to those planning on purchasing GTA 5 for PC: you have until March 31 to pre-order if you want all the bonuses on offer. Those who pre-order will be handed $1 million in-game cash plus a bonus $300,000. It is split between GTA 5 and GTA Online: $500,000 for Grand Theft […]

  • Games with Gold offers doubled for April – six games instead of three

    Microsoft’s April Games with Gold collection is being doubled. For the month Xbox Live Gold members will receive six instead of three games free. Here’s what’s on offer: Pool Nation FX: Available all month on Xbox One Child of Light: Available all month on Xbox One Gears of War: Judgment: Available from April 1-15 on […]

  • Pokemon players can grab a code for Shiny Charizard at GAME in April

    Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire players along with Pokemon X and Y owners can grab a free, rare Shiny Charizard from April 3 at one of GAME’s 320 stores in the UK. The redeemable codes for the character will be made available upon request and no purchase is necessary. Those who pop into one […]

  • F1 2015 will arrive on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in June, includes Mexico circuit

    Codemasters has announced its F1 franchise will make its series debut on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One this June with the release of F1 2015. The game was developed using a new engine and contains improved handling and physics for all vehicles and parts attached. This includes: engine, transmission, aerodynamics, fuel tank, force feedback, suspension […]

  • Mortal Kombat X video confirms Liu Kang as playable character

    Liu Kang has been confirmed as a playable character in Mortal Kombat X in the latest video. You’ll also notice Bo’ Rai Cho in there as well. In the Shaolin trailer above you also get a look at Kung Lao and Kung Jin who is new to the series. Apparently, Raiden’s past champions of the […]

  • Short teaser for Star Wars: Battlefront shows the Battle of Hoth

    A short teaser for Star Wars: Battlefront has been posted by EA on Twitter. Well, that speeder isn't going anywhere. Can someone give us a lift to @SW_Celebration http://t.co/srEVrAA0zl #SWCA https://t.co/4W4LG8myke — EAStarWars (@EAStarWars) March 25, 2015 The teaser shows vehicles which we could be using in the game, but it mainly shows the snowy landscape […]

  • Pillars of Eternity releases today – get all the review scores here

    Pillars of Eternity, which still stands as the second most-funded video game on Kickstarter, finally releases today. It’s also getting some rather positive reviews scores, which we’ve rounded up for you. The isometric, party-based RPG from Obsidian Entertainment was one of the first video game projects to take to Kickstarter, and hit its $1.1 million […]

  • Take an in-depth look at Evolve’s Behemoth monster and four new hunters

    Evolve’s fourth monster, the Behemoth, as well as the four new hunters are shown off in new gameplay video. Evolve’s latest gameplay trailer gives everyone a good look at each of the four new hunters and the massive Behemoth monster. The hunters can be bought either separately or though the hunting pass, while the monster […]

  • PS4 firmware update 2.50 causing issues with Killzone: Shadow Fall

    The suspend/resume feature in PlayStation 4′s 2.50 firmware update is causing some issues with Killzone: Shadow Fall. Killzone: Shadow Fall developer Guerrilla has said that the game is experiencing some issues in some instance where the suspend/resume feature is used. The timing of when players put the game in suspend mode does have an effect, […]

  • Bungie on Destiny matchmaking: “We believe there’s no substitute for a pre-made team”

    Crazy though this may seem, it’s possible that Destiny shipped according to plan. History points to community as a crucial component, far from the contingency that many now suspect. Paul Davies spoke to Bungie for clarity. “The community always engineers the best solutions for bringing players together. While Matchmaking is a great resource for introducing […]

  • Bloodborne works with suspend/resume, but only offline

    PlayStation 4′s newly-added suspend/resume feature works with Bloodborne as you’d expect, but only while offline. PlayStation 4 received the long-awaited suspend/resume feature today as part of firmware 2.50, and people are starting to test it out with various games. Bloodborne does work with the feature, but only if you play offline. Playing online is arguably […]

  • This is what Crossy Road looks like in first-person

    Crossy Road is fun and addictive. But in first-person, it’s mostly frightening. YouTube user Andy Front Films likes Crossy Road so much he decided to show off what it would look like in first-person. If crossing roads quickly and watching around for cars and trains, all of this as the camera chases you felt intense […]

  • Take a small behind-the-scenes peek at Mass Effect 4

    BioWare cinematic director Ken Thain has given us a very slim look behind the scenes at some motion capture work from the upcoming Mass Effect game. The upcoming Mass Effect game, whether it ends up being called Mass Effect 4 or not, will most definitely incorporate some form of motion capture work. How do we […]

  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – 8GB day one patch on PS4, 16GB on Xbox One

    Day one patches for Borderlands: The Handsome Collection are pretty hefty. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Borderlands: The Handsome Collection require players to download lots of gigabytes to make the experience as smooth as possible. The PlayStation 4 version has an 8.31GB day one patch. The Xbox One version however has […]

  • Get a PlayStation 4 with Bloodborne and The Last of Us for $435

    If you’ve been waiting for the perfect game to get to buy a PlayStation 4, there’s no better time than the present. Amazon is offering a good PlayStation 4 bundle at the moment. For $434.99, you get a PlayStation 4 console, The Last of Us, and Bloodborne. The Last of Us is of course the […]

  • Upcoming Battlefield Hardline patch to nerf the K10, buff battle rifles

    Battlefield Hardline’s first patch will focus on weapon balance and a few changes have been proposed. Battlefield Hardline lead multiplayer designer Thaddeus Sasser posted a few of the balance changes that the team is considering for the next patch. K10: reduce bullet damage to 33 Saiga and PTR: reduce recoil to bring more in line […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and a new Resident Evil game coming this year, according to research firm

    According to digital games analyst SuperData, a new Resident Evil game is due this fall and that this year’s Call of Duty is Black Ops 3. In its latest report on digital console games, research and analytics firm SuperData revealed that a new Resident Evil is coming this fall. “We anticipate this month’s downturn to […]

  • Bloodborne: you can add gestures to your messages

    As players get deeper into Bloodborne, they keep uncovering so many of its little new additions, including this one. Bloodborne, like all of the Souls games before it, allows players to leave messages for other players. These messages could be used to point players towards impending doom, treasure, or just be sarcastic and witty. What […]