Path of Exile co-founder on why studio is avoiding crunch

Path of Exile's co-founder discusses why the studio is looking to stay away from the practice of crunch when creating games.


Crunch is a hot topic in the industry, and it seems more developers are weighing in left and right as more gamers want to know what's going into the games they're playing – namely, if employees are being asked to work a ridiculous amount of hours to get titles ready to ship.

Grinding Gear Games co-founder Chris Wilson took to Reddit to share his thoughts on the studio's workload as it relates to getting Path of Exile out the door.

"Some studios make their teams work 14 hour days to pack every patch full of the most fixes and improvements possible. Sometimes when we read our own Patch Notes threads and community feedback, we feel that we are being asked to do the same. I will not run this company that way," said Wilson. 

"We try as hard as we can to communicate with our community about our development priorities. We post daily news and aim for some kind of substantial development update every week. Bex and her team are all over the community posts, passing information back to the developers and seeking answers to questions. However, as I explained earlier, in order to be able to share our firm plans about topics, we have to assemble the right developers, derail their current work and make some time-consuming decisions."

Wilson also noted that sometimes, optional paid overtime is necessary when the team is working on league updates. As far as most of the general development cycle, however, he said the team is left with a "great work/life balance." He did explain that the takeaway is that unfortunately some changes to the game will take longer in the oven before they're ready to go.

When thinking about crunch and wondering why it takes so long to get some things done in studios (or any job) it's important to remember that some teams are only so large. If you have a team of 5 people and can't afford to (or wish not to) hire more workers, you can only work that team so hard until something gives – this is how crunch presumably begins.

An already overworked team does their best to crank out updates and new content while constantly spreading themselves thin working on other projects and ignoring their own personal, social, and mental health. You can't expect a team of so few people to do the work of a hundred, and working them days, nights, and weekends isn't going to produce the results you're looking for. Unfortunately, not all studios see the light as Wilson apparently has.

"All of these areas, from 3.7.0 through to the eventual release of 4.0.0, are going to make massive and lasting fundamental improvements to Path of Exile," Wilson said of new updates coming to the game at a later date. But not at the cost of the team's health."

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Fueled by horror, rainbow-sugar-pixel-rushes, and video games, Brittany is a Senior Editor at Shacknews who thrives on surrealism and ultraviolence. Follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake and check out her portfolio for more. Like a fabulous shooter once said, get psyched!

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