Wednesday, June 29, 2022
Xbox Game Studios head, Matt Booty, has declared that “crunch culture” is no longer happening at Bethesda, following Xbox's acquisition of parent company ZeniMax Media in 2020. He added that crunch is also a thing of the past at Xbox.
A report from Kotaku notes that Booty referred to a previous article regarding crunch culture and labour conditions at Bethesda and ZeniMax, referring to the additional working hours that went into the making of Fallout 76. “The challenge with a lot of these articles is that they look backwards, sometimes pretty far back in time,” he said during a Q&A at a company meeting.
“Crunch culture is…if you go back 10 years ago, it’s a little unfair to put that on one studio,” Booty added. “It was just part of the industry. I don’t say that to justify it, I’m just saying it was part of the culture of the industry. I literally slept under my desk early in my career. And we looked at that like a badge of honour.”
He continued by stating that instances of crunch are also no more at Xbox, although it could potentially occur without his knowledge. “I know from talking to Bethesda leadership that we do not have a situation where people are crunching and we’ve got this bullying atmosphere . . . I’m confident about that," he remarked.
“There’s avenues for them to report that anonymously back to us that goes through HR," Booty assured. “We have to rely on those independent systems of checks and balances." Kotaku observes, however, that the Xbox HR department is employed by Xbox, so its independence is somewhat questionable.
Nonetheless, with both Starfield and Redfall pushed back on Xbox's release slate, delayed into 2023, there at least appears to be an effort to avoid crunch to meet a deadline. This is, of course, a good thing.
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