Numerous voices have spoken out against crunch culture in the video game industry as of late especially from big studios. Being a large studio, Blizzard Entertainment crunch was bound to come up. Co-Founder Mike Morhaime recently came out and spoke against it, stated that the studio’s crunch culture is unsustainable.
“Blizzard has definitely evolved around crunch,” stated Morhaime. “In our early days we crunched crazy hours to get the games done. I think if you’re a small studio, you’re living or dying by the success of the next project, it takes a lot of superhuman effort — or at least it did for us.”
Despite how much his old company owed to crunch, Morhaime admitted that it, and industry in general needs to move away from it.
“That [crunch] is not sustainable, and we need to find better ways of working, and so,” he said. “I think you’re finding companies are doing a lot better these days, managing sort of controlled crunches where people are working really hard, but they’re not working 24/7.”
As part of this, Morhaime claimed that companies can afford to not rely on crunch as much these days. With the industry’s growth, they can now instead spend to hire more staff to spread out the development work load. This, he says, extends even to smaller companies.
“There’s a lot more money coming into the space these days, so even the smaller companies are able to get funded to do the work they want to do better than in the past,” he said.
Of course, for a company as large as Blizzard, it shouldn’t have any issue with finding more staff. In a separate interview, John Hight, executive producer and vice president of World of Warcraft, stated that they want to move away from crunch.
“Generally our policy on the team itself is we want to be a no-crunch team,” stated Hight. “We’re not there 100% yet, but we’re really dramatically better than we were even five years ago, certainly 10 years ago. I think that very few parts of the team end up having to work any degree of overtime.”
However, this doesn’t seem to extend to corporate sibling Activision. Recently, a report came on crunch conditions endured by employees at Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 developer Treyarch. Here’s hoping Hight’s statement is also shared by other Activision’s studios as well.