Crunch in game development has become an important topic over the past year, especially after Rockstar Games’ revelations about Red Dead Redemption 2. While some companies like Obsidian Entertainment have come out against crunch or, like CD Projekt RED with Cyberpunk 2077, taken steps to reduce it, others like NetherRealm Studios continue to engage in it. So what about Borderlands 3 and how Gearbox Software handles it?
According to multiplayer producer Chris Brock in conversation with VG247, Gearbox isn’t a “crunch studio.” “We don’t do the thing where we say, ‘Hey, everyone’s going to be working ten hours, or twelve hours a day,’ or whatever. We don’t do that.” Of course, it’s never that simple. While the company asks employees to leave once their work is done, not everyone is keen to follow that advice.
Brock gives the example of level artist Brad Sierzega. “He is one of our level artists for the game, so if you like the way Promethea looks, you can thank Brad Sierzega. He is a guy who knows that every second he puts in the game improves the game. I can’t actually even stop him.
“I’m like, ‘Hey, maybe you need to go home. You need to get some rest.’ He’s like, ‘We’ve only got so much time left. Every second I’m not putting on this is-’ you know, that’s wasted to him. So it’s balancing that, sometimes for people. On the one side, you’ve heard the horror stories of devs who’ve driven their people into the ground. And then, there are other stories, where it’s like, ‘Man, you guys have to calm down, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. And you can’t just burn yourself up right now.’”
At the end of the day, it’s a balance especially with a studio of Gearbox’s size. “It’s a labour of love, and you don’t want to crush that” but the developer also wants to make sure that its employees are looked after. “So you do need to make sure that people take care of themselves, and you try to enforce work/life balance as much as you can, try to just plan such that it happens as infrequently as possible.”
Even with figureheads like CEO Randy Pitchford involved in some controversy or the other over the years, it’s good to hear that others are looking out for the well-being of their employees. Borderlands 3 is out on September 13th for Xbox One, PS4 and PC. It went gold earlier this month.