Path Of Exile developer Chris Wilson recently stood up against crunch in the game industry, choosing to lead by example and calling out other game studios for overworking their staff.
Wilson, the CEO of Grinding Gear Games, has taken a strong stance on the topic of overworking employees for the sake of pushing out content and patches as quickly as possible at the cost of any employee work/life balance. In a recent Reddit post, he talked about everything going on behind the scenes.
The post was related to issues with the recent release of Synthesis League and Hardcore Synthesis, which launched on March 8. After working on the current challenge mode over the holidays, Wilson described how there was not much time to iterate before release, and as a result, it is not given the same high-quality standards that Path of Exile players have come to expect. The majority of the team's time is now being spent working on significantly large projects: patch 3.7.0, which will be revealed in a few weeks, patch 4.0.0, which is the next major expansion, ExileCon later this year, and finally, various issues requiring correction in the game.
With all that in mind, one might assume that the developers are in crunch mode to get all of this out as quickly as possible. However, that is not the case. Wilson spoke about the recent topic of development crunch; some studios force their workers into 14 hour days in order to get content up as soon as possible.
Wilson spoke out against this method. "I will not run this company that way. While there's inevitably a bit of optional paid overtime near league releases, the vast majority of a Path of Exile development cycle has great work/life balance," he said. "This is necessary to keep our developers happy and healthy for the long-term, but it does mean that some game improvements will take a while to be made."
The commitment from the CEO towards work/life balance is refreshing to hear, as there have been many claims against various companies for working their employees too hard. For example, NetherRealm was accused of having a toxic word environment during the production of Mortal Kombat 11 and several Riot employees planned a walkout in response to forced arbitration.
If the cost for treating employees well and respecting their work/life balance involves waiting longer for issues to be corrected or for an expansion to launch, we can't complain.