One developer explained: “People thinking the extension is somehow to relieve stress or the workload on the team are wrong. The first thing that they wanted to reiterate is that we aren’t slowing down the pace.”The report does make clear that some Naughty Dog staff were apparently relieved that the game was delayed from its February release date, as it would have been ‘a mess’ at that time. It also makes clear that many at Naughty Dog are in favour of, or at the very least accept, the crunch at a studio famous for its perfectionism.
A developer said, “That’s one of the reasons crunch always happens here. People are given the freedom to keep working longer, to push the envelope of what they are working on, to make things just 10 percent better. It’s what the studio looks for when hiring people.”
At the time of the delay, creative director Neil Druckmann said that the delay was because the game was not yet “Naughty Dog quality.” He added: “While we’re relieved that we won’t have to compromise our vision, we’re disappointed that we weren’t able to avoid this exact situation. We wish we could’ve foreseen the amount of polish we needed, but the size and scope of this game got the better of us. We hate disappointing our fans and for that we’re sorry.”
It’s not the first time we’ve heard of a delay leading to sustained crunch this year – CD Projekt Red publicly explained that developers would still have to crunch “to some degree” after Cyberpunk 2077 was delayed to September.
Crunch – a term for sustained overtime during development, particularly when close to release – has become a hot topic in the games industry in recent years, with the likes of Rockstar, NetherRealm, and Epic Games all criticised for their working culture. The new Telltale Games was set up with a goal of a non-crunch work environment, and Nintendo has publicly said it won’t release game before it’s ready – and even delay it – partly because it wants to focus on the health of its employees.