Podcast: When Is 'Crunch' OK?

E3 photo by Chris Weeks/Getty Images for Sony Computer Entertainment America
E3 photo by Chris Weeks/Getty Images for Sony Computer Entertainment America

Is mandatory overtime an integral part of game development or a systemic issue that should be completely eliminated? Where would you even start?


Originally posted 4/21/16

On today’s episode of our podcast, Kotaku Splitscreen, industry veteran Matthew Burns (Destiny, Halo) joins us to talk about the nuances of “crunch”—game parlance for forced unpaid overtime—and how it fits into game development.


Last weekend, DirectX co-creator Alex St. John wrote a Venturebeat article lambasting game developers who complain about wages and hours, writing, among other things, “You need to get an actual job producing productivity software if you want to be paid ‘fairly’ and go home at 5 pm.” The article was widely derided, triggering a number of conversations about work-life balance and how the game industry treats its workers.

Like many issues in gaming, crunch has a lot of nuance. There are different types of crunch, different reasons for crunch, and different approaches to crunch. In short, as we point out on this week’s show, there are no easy answers surrounding an issue like this. (For an in-depth look at crunch, see our feature from last year.)

Today’s Splitscreen—which you can find on iTunes or directly right here (mp3 link here)—also talks some Disgaea, some Division, and the hypothetical Dark Souls MMORPG we’d all love to play.

As always, you can reach us at splitscreen@kotaku.com. If you like the show, please subscribe and leave a review!

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Speaking as a software engineer: if you have a deadline you have a deadline.

If you can’t do something in time perhaps you’re in the wrong job; not necessarily the wrong industry, but certainly the wrong job and maybe should think about working for yourself or changing company.