Allegations surfaced earlier this month that the development of Fallout 76 was plagued by, among other things, a heavy reliance on crunch (opens in new tab). One source described it as “voluntold overtime,” because employees were told that if nobody volunteered to come in to work over a weekend, the entire dev team would be called in. Bethesda’s acquisition by Microsoft a couple years later reportedly hadn’t changed the situation much, as sources said the new ownership was largely taking a hands-off approach to the studio.
In a recent all-hands meeting reported on by Kotaku (opens in new tab), however, Xbox Game Studios chief Matt Booty said he’s “confident” the situation has changed, and that Bethesda and its parent company ZeniMax Media are no longer crunching as part of their regular process. He also made a point of noting that crunch wasn’t a problem with Bethesda specifically, but just the way things were done across the industry as a whole.
“Crunch culture is… if you go back 10 years ago, it’s a little unfair to put that on one studio,” Booty said. “It was just part of the industry. I don’t say that to justify it, I’m just saying it was part of the culture of the industry. I literally slept under my desk early in my career. And we looked at that like a badge of honor.”