The Polish game developer and publisher, CD Projekt Red, announced Cyberpunk 2077 crunch time on September 30, 2020. This is only 6 weeks before Cyberpunk 2077 release date, November 19, 2020. It was first scheduled for April 16, 2020, then postponed for September 17, 2020, before being moved to November. Because the publisher made a firm decision there would be no further delays, the radical decision had to be made.
This actually went against CD Projekt Red’s previous pledge not to implement this practice, common in the gaming industry. During “crunch” time, game developers, writers, and designers are forced to work 60-to-80-hour weeks. They have very little breaks and little to no financial return for their effort.
Game publishers such as Rockstar Games, Epic Games, Electronic Arts, and Activision Blizzard were heavily criticized for this. This was started by the current or former employees, mostly anonymously and online. It also led to a petition to start a Union of Game Developers, which would regulate such issues.
CD Project Red’s co-founder, Mr. Adam Badowski, announced it was the “hardest decision for them to make” and that “the entire studio is in overdrive” in an e-mail to their employees. Luckily, Cyberpunk 2077 crunch time will be nothing like the one the companies implement. The company has imposed a 6-day work week, with a mandatory presence at weekends. You can see a public statement on Twitter:
They added that the employees will be well compensated for working overtime 6 weeks ahead of launch. Additionally, 10% of the company’s annual profits will be shared among employees. Furthermore, they clarified that employees who have other pressing concerns can be excluded without fear of being fired.
This is not against Polish laws. The country has a standard 40-hour working week across 5 days or 8 hours per day on average. The law has an exception to the rule in times of “special needs of an employer”. This equals to a payment of 200% (double-time) on weekends. And, going by CD Projekt Red’s predicted profits of $520 million in 2020, the employees could receive thousands of dollars in bonuses, as mentioned above.