by Jonathan Lee, In The Know

Cyberpunk 2077 is the most highly anticipated game of the year, but according to a former developer, it’s coming at a high human cost.

An anonymous Reddit poster who identified themselves as a former CD Projekt Red developer described a brutal working schedule and leadership who had a disturbing disregard for the wellness of its workers. Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier confirmed the poster was indeed an employee of CD Projekt Red.

I think this Reddit comment from someone who worked at CD Projekt Red is worth sharing, especially since folks out there still think their overtime is limited to 48 hours a week. I can confirm they used to work at CDPR (just got off the phone with them):

— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) October 14, 2020

The former CD Projekt Red developer said that some Cyberpunk 2077 teams have been crunching (the game industry term for excessive mandatory overtime) since July 2019. If what the poster is claiming is true, it means that the company has been forcing its employees to work 16-hour workdays for more than a year now.

“The people that want the product out ASAP are the board and the marketing directors,” the former CD Projekt Red employee wrote on Reddit. “And they don’t give a flying f*** about the work balance.”

When Bloomberg released its report on CD Projekt Red mandating six-day workweeks in the two-month lead-up to Cyberpunk 2077’s release, it sent shockwaves through the industry. CD Projekt Red had backed out on its promise in June 2019 when the company’s leadership vowed that it wouldn’t force its employees to crunch.

Fans were divided by the news. Many rightfully condemned CD Projekt Red for labor abuse and reneging on its commitment to work-life balance. However, some defended the company and dismissed the Bloomberg piece as a smear campaign, despite the fact that crunch has a long-documented history of harming workers and has even led to class-action lawsuits.

CD Projekt Red’s defenders claimed that the six-day workweek wasn’t a mandate but rather a collective decision made by the employees. Schreier spoke with several current CD Projekt Red developers who told him this was false — there was never a discussion, only an order.

To clear up another point, I asked a couple of CDPR devs if it’s true that the majority of them wanted six-day weeks over a delay. They said that conversation never took place. One: “We got the email and then a meeting with our team leaders. It was never an option or question”

— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) October 9, 2020

Crunch is a sadly common aspect of video game development, an industry that has a long history of abusing the average worker with the justification that they should be grateful that they even have a job in games in the first place. Though there is no evidence that crunch increases productivity, it continues to remain a toxic cultural precedent.

“And this my friends is why I left the game dev industry,” Another Redditor wrote in the same thread. “I’ve sat through many crunches to the point I didn’t even feel like I was alive anymore.”

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