CD Projekt Red Would Rather Overwork its Employees Than Delay Cyberpunk 2077 [UPDATE]

There are worse promises to break than delaying your game again.

Update: Adam Badowski has responded to Bloomberg’s report on his personal Twitter account, saying that members of the team are being compensated (as noted below, Polish labor laws require this) and that 10% of the studios annual profit will be split among the team.

Original story below:

Earlier this month, Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red solemnly swore that its RPG wouldn’t be delayed out if its November 19 release date, and thanks to a report from Bloomberg, we know how it plans to do that: crunch.

According to the report, some employees working on Cyberpunk 2077 have been putting in nights and weekends in an effort to get the game out the door for the past year. But now, the Polish company is enforcing mandatory six-day work weeks after a staff-wide email from studio head Adam Badowski.

“Starting today, the entire (development) studio is in overdrive,” Badowski wrote, elaborating that this meant “your typical amount of work and one day of the weekend.”

“I take it upon myself to receive the full backlash for the decision,” he wrote. “I know this is in direct opposition to what we’ve said about crunch. It’s also in direct opposition to what I personally grew to believe a while back — that crunch should never be the answer. But we’ve extended all other possible means of navigating the situation.”

As Bloomberg notes, the extra day of work would be paid, as required by Poland labor laws.

This goes against previous promises by the company to not require any such overtime work, which has become a major contention point with the AAA development space in recent years. Beyond CD Projekt Red, other major studios working on huge games like Naughty Dog and The Last of Us Part II coming under scrutiny for overworking its developers.

In other news:

Before this, Cyberpunk 2077 had been delayed several times over the past year. It was originally slated to launch in April, then subsequently being delayed into September, then once more to the current November 19 date. While yes, breaking your promise to delay the game might be embarrassing, Mr. Badowski, what’s more embarrassing is that you can’t keep the promise to do right by your employees. In an interview with Kotaku from June of last year, CD Projekt Red co-founder Marcin Iwiński spoke on this issue, saying that the company had been making calculated steps to avoid any such crunch time in an effort to do right by the developers at the company who are actually making the game. Here’s an interesting quote from the interview on how CD Projekt Red was going to schedule out development milestones accordingly to help alleviate any overworking that had happened in the studio’s past:

It’s a direct result of our production planning and we’re trying to make it realistic, and not make it a ginormous burden on the team. Why we’ve been making this public commitment is because we really care about the people that are making this game. It’s not me coding personally or painting something, it’s the super-talented folks that decided to join us, and I want to make sure they feel taken care of and respected.

There are worse things than delaying your game a third time in one year. And you’ve done it.

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Kenneth Shepard

Kenneth is a Georgia-based writer who still periodically cries about the Mass Effect trilogy years after it concluded.

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