Doom Eternal devs crunched ‘most of last year’ to hit delayed release date

Crunch is a controversial topic in the gaming industry, and Doom Eternal is the latest title to come under fire for the practice. According to Marty Stratton, the executive producer on the game, the dev team on Doom Eternal spent “most of last year” crunching to hit the original November 2019 release date.

According to an interview with VG24/7, Stratton stated that the studio tends to crunch in phases. One group will crunch for a while, then another group will. Apparently, the strategy was somewhat successful as Doom Eternal was complete when the delay was announced. However, the team wanted the extra time for bugfixes and polishing.

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With the delay, you’d think that crunch would lessen, but Stratton says that’s not always the case. Though the postponement relieved some of the pressure on the team, he stated that they’d push even harder to make the game as good as it can be.

Of Id’s crunch system Stratton stated:

“We really truly do try and be very respectful of peoples’ time and lives. We have very dedicated people that just choose to work a lot in many cases. It was nice because we want the game to be perfect. We want it to live up to our expectations and consumer expectations.”

Of course, the term crunch is largely undefined, so we can only speculate whether the working conditions at Id Software are acceptable or not. Crunch time is to be expected on any large project with a defined end date, but at what point does it become unhealthy? There’s also the issue that many developers who are passionate about a project may voluntarily crunch. Does this put the onus on studio management to ensure employees are keeping a healthy work/home balance?

Crunch time is an issue that’s existed for a long time, but only recently started to be addressed. As the video game industry continues to grow and projects become larger in scale, we’ll surely hear more and more about crunch and its effect on developers.