In a recent interview with Kotaku, Marcin Iwiński has revealed CD Projekt Red’s approach to the dreaded “Crunch Time” that many developers have to deal with before a big game. A source of bad publicity, many companies mandate their employees to work long hours to ensure on time releases. With many companies not paying overtime pay during these periods. Marcin wanted to be transparent and reached out to Kotaku to state what CD Projekt Red is doing different. Especially considering the Crunch that took place with Witcher III E3 for Cyberpunk.
“Non-Obligatory Crunch Policy”
The first step, according to Marcin, is to be transparent to the employees. When the company asks for overtime or to work weekends, it is NOT mandatory. But as Jason Schreier notes in his article, “a request from the boss doesn’t need to be ‘mandatory’ for it to be something you have to do.” Marcin, it seems, to be aware of it however. He continues, “We’ll be listening to people, we definitely open a lot of lines of dialogue here.”
Marcin wants, in his own words “To also be known for treating developers with respect.” This is motivated by their reputation for “Treating gamers with respect.” It appears that CD Projekt Red is recognizing that it is no longer only the game that is important for gamers, but how the product was made. So by focusing on treating their developers with respect, they will, by extension, treat their fans with respect.
One of the ways they will differ from many of the other studios, is overtime pay. They pay 150% for working nights, and 200% for the weekends. However, as Kotaku notes, the cost of living is lower in Poland. Still, it is this writer’s opinion that compensation is far better then forcing employees to take overtime without compensation.
What About Free Time?
One major change that Marcin was willing to be specific on was their new vacation policies. Instead of allowing vacations throughout the year, there are now periods when no vacations are approved. These periods would most likely be during the periods of heavy lifting for development. Holidays and E3 being the prominent examples.
All, however, is not lost for those that need trips in those periods. Adam Badowski did recognize that some things might come up where an employee would need time off during those days. “If there are special occasions, we will obviously take care of those kind of people.” Stating that the new rule was simply a general rule, not an ironclad rule.
Desire to be Better
CD Projekt Red recognizes that this might not be a perfect solution. Again, Adam states that “this is our take on this this year. And we will see—maybe it’s good, maybe it’s wrong. We will do a survey after that and take care of people.” This desire to change and improve shows their commitment to do right by their fans and the members of their team. They also stressed that this crunch period is simply a naturally occurring anomaly. During the vast majority of the development, no crunch period occurs for the most part. It is during the last year/few months that the need for overtime often comes up.
The reason Adam and Marcin approached Kotaku was they wanted to hold themselves accountable. Make their promise public. Show their commitment to the health and wellbeing of their employees. They also promised that this period will be better and less crunchy then it was for The Witcher III. Hopefully that promise will be kept, happy developers often lead to a better quality game.