With Borderlands 3 less than a month away from release, one would expect that Gearbox Software would be in crunch mode. However, it looks like that isn’t the case. The studio confirmed that it is not enforcing crunch on Borderlands 3‘s development team.
Talking to VG247, Borderlands 3 multiplayer producer Chris Burke confirmed that no crunch was forced on the team. “We are not a crunch studio,” stated Burke. “We don’t do the thing where we say, ‘Hey, everyone’s going to be working 10 hours, or 12 hours a day,’ or whatever. We don’t do that.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean that team members didn’t stay on and work long hours on the game. However, when this happens, it’s because these team members choose to do so. In fact, according to Burke, they actually had difficulty convincing certain team members to go home and rest.
“It is hard to completely avoid it,” Burke explained. “Because you’ve got people — Okay, I’m going to name drop a guy, he’s probably going to be pissed. We have a guy, Brad Sierzega. He is one of our level artists for the game, so if you like the way Promethea looks, you can thank Brad Sierzega. He is a guy who knows that every second he puts in the game improves the game. I can’t actually even stop him.”
Burke then continued to discuss how there are two sides to the whole “crunch” story. While the usual stories about crunch involve developers forcing their staff into crunch mode, Burke explained that there are stories where the opposite happens. “And then, there are other stories, where it’s like, ‘Man, you guys have to calm down, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,'” Burke stated. “‘And you can’t just burn yourself up right now.'”
These stories come into conflict with tales from other developers. Telltale, for example, was notorious for crunch as was Epic as it tried to keep on top the the Fortnite community’s needs. Such cases included crunch that wasn’t mandatory, but said employees would often find themselves without a job if they did not come in. With that in mind, Burke’s claims of healthy reinforcement show how other developers can handle things as the going gets tough.
Crunch has become one of the biggest concerns in game development this year, with more developers and studios speaking up about it. With this, a number of studios are now trying their best to avoid crunch. Last June, Bungie delayed a patch for Destiny 2 specifically to avoid crunch. Meanwhile at around the same time, Blizzard Entertainment’s Mike Morhaime called crunch “unsustainable.” Hopefully, these, as well as Gearbox’s efforts with Borderlands 3, convince more studios to end the practice of mandatory crunch.