The Last of Us 2 developers ‘can’t go home’ due to intense crunch

Naughty Dog doesn’t exactly encourage a crunch culture, but a longstanding policy of hiring workaholics often means that The Last of Us 2 developers are stuck at work later than normal. It’s so bad, in fact, that one developer of The Last of Us 2 says it feels like they “can’t go home.”

“They do try to take care of you, providing food, encouragement to go take breaks,” one former developer said to Kotaku, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “But for the most part, the implication is: ‘Get the job done at all costs’.”

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It’s not necessarily that Naughty Dog is specifically keeping people there. However, the passionate people that they hire are often so involved with getting the job done (and getting it done on time) that The Last of Us 2 developers are working 12-hour days and weekends during crunch time.

“It’s an amazing creative environment,” said one developer on The Last of Us II. “But you can’t go home.”

Naughty Dog aims to hire people who are the best in their field, and sometimes that results in people busting their butts to get a game out the door. Still, the outright message from the top-down is that people shouldn’t push themselves to the breaking point.

“We crunch on all our games for sure,” Naughty Dog’s president Evan Wells told Kotaku in 2016. “We never [change] our forty-hour expectation or our core hours, which are 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.… People put in a lot more hours, but it’s based on their own fuel, how much they have in their tank.”