On the development side of things, crunch has been one of the biggest and most pervasive problems in the games business, and over the years, many developers have faced criticism for their work habits in that area. Bethesda Game Studios, the creator of games like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and the upcoming Starfield, has been one of those studios that have sparked controversy more frequently than others, despite the fact that nearly no studio in this field is fully impeachable.
Naturally, Bethesda was acquired by Microsoft last year and transformed into an Xbox first-party firm; as a result, its new managers claim that the company no longer experiences crunch-related problems. According to Xbox Game Studios Exec Matt Booty, crunch is no longer a problem at Bethesda across all of its studios, despite the developer’s well-known historical problems with it (including most recently with Fallout 76). This was revealed in a recent Q&A (via Kotaku).
If you think back ten years, it’s a little unfair to blame one studio for crunch culture, Booty added. It was merely a component of the sector. I don’t say anything to defend it; I’m merely stating that it was ingrained in the industry’s culture. Early in my work, I slept just under my desk. We saw that as a badge of honor.
“I know that we do not have a situation where people are crunched and we’ve got this bullying attitude,” he continued, “because I’ve spoken to Bethesda leadership I have faith in that..”
It’s not always a good idea to believe firms when they claim that studios controlled by them are no longer involved in activities for which they have been criticized in the past; after all, they aren’t exactly fair and unbiased, but the hope is that Bethesda is an exception. Of course, it’s impossible to know for sure what goes on behind the scenes, but considering how much light has been placed on this specific problem throughout the industry in recent years, there is undoubtedly increasing pressure on studio leadership to improve how it schedules and distributes labor.
However, prolonged periods of crunch sometimes accompany game delays, so we surely hope that won’t be the case with Starfield, which was just postponed till the second half of 2023. It will be available on PC and Xbox Series X/S.