Video game makers call it "crunch” — the process of working nights and weekends to hit a tight deadline. But unlike other professions that might muster employees to work overtime in the final stretches of a project, in game development it can be a permanent, and debilitating, way of life.
Polish game developer CD Projekt Red, a subsidiary of CD Projekt SA, this week asked all of its employees to work six-day weeks in the lead-up to the November release of Cyberpunk 2077, one of the most hotly anticipated games of the fall, Bloomberg reported. But the new policy was just the formalization of an informal code that has long existed at the studio. Various departments at CD Projekt Red have already been working nights and weekends for weeks or months straight in order to meet deadlines, according to people who have worked there.
In early 2018, several CD Projekt Red developers had to crunch for months to finish the demo video they would present during the video game conference E3 in June, according to people who were involved. This year, in the midst of the global pandemic, many developers have been putting in lengthy hours to finish the game. Although the crunch wasn’t mandatory, it was happening anyway. CD Projekt Red studio head Adam Badowski acknowledged as much in his email to staff this week announcing the overtime.