A misjudged Twitter post from Striking Distance Studios founder Glen Schofield has been deleted after it was criticised for appearing to glorify crunch. The former EA and Activision man – whose team is currently working to wrap up survival horror The Callisto Protocol ahead of its 2nd December launch – said that “we are working six to seven days a week […] exhaustion, tired, COVID but we’re working”. He continued: “12 to 15 hour days. This is gaming. Hard work. Lunch, dinner, working. You do it because you love it.”
Schofield was roundly criticised by a number of industry pundits, including Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, who’s written books about the toils of game development. “This, from a studio head, is crunch culture defined,” he said. “Of course nobody is ‘forced’ to work insane hours. But imagine the reduced bonuses and lack of promotion opportunities if you don’t? ‘You do it because you love it.’ Weaponised passion. This is why people burn out of gaming.”
After the original Twitter message was deleted, Schofield sought to clarify his comments: “Anyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about the people I work with. Earlier I tweeted how proud I was of the effort and hours the team was putting in. That was wrong. We value passion and creativity, not long hours. I’m sorry to the team for coming across like this.”
The working culture at a number of tentpole studios, including top AAA teams like Naughty Dog and Rockstar, has hit the headlines over the past decade – with some seeking to improve their approach. Many staffers pointed out that they didn’t work overtime on The Last of Us: Part I, while one of the reasons cited for GTA 6’s longer than expected development cycle has been a change in the culture at creator Rockstar.
Of course, this is a complicated topic with lots of nuance that often splits opinion. However, Schofield’s insinuation that his team are working while unwell with COVID is poor – although it’s possible he meant that his studio kept going through the rigours of the pandemic. If these are the kind of conditions, though, we’d argue a delay should be considered – however, we suspect Striking Distance Studios is also feeling the pressure of the Dead Space remake, which is currently slated to release a little over a month after The Callisto Protocol, on 27th January.