The crunch culture is real. The cycle of burning out and overworking developers in the video game industry has been around for decades. However, developers are trying to change this even if it means having to prolong the development cycle. It also helps that issues with the biggest games like Cyberpunk 2077 have come to light in recent years.
But, while we've heard developers making statements about improving workplace culture, it's different seeing it in action.
For example, what Naughty Dog is doing with The Last of Us Part 1.
The remake of the 2013 title has been rumored since last year but it was only confirmed last month at the Summer Game Fest. Since then, we've been hearing more about The Last of Us Part 1, such as an animator defending the game and saying that it's not just a "cash grab."
Now, just days after it went gold, a developer just had a ringing endorsement of the upcoming game ahead of its September launch.
Here's what principal environment artist, Anthony Vaccaro, said on Twitter:
This is the first time in my 13 year career, across multiple studios that I didn't need to crunch to finish a game. Feels good, really good. Especially hitting the same quality bar as TLOU2. More work to keep doing but proud of the big changes so far to make the studio healthier.
On one hand, Vaccaro all but admitted that Naughty Dog was part of the problem. On the other hand, his statement is pretty much emphasizing the "was" part of what we just said. It's nice to see Naughty Dog put its money where its mouth is after being put in a spot as early as two years ago for reportedly silencing employees that wanted to report the crunch culture problem of the company.
Hopefully, Naughty Dog can continue improving its working environment. The first-party Sony studio is currently working on a multiplayer spin-off to The Last of Us.