That being said, there are still reports of crunch and tumultuous development periods at CD Projekt Red regarding Cyberpunk 2077.
The not so glamorous practice of crunch is one that has reared its head and come into the spotlight more than ever over the past year. Games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Anthem specifically have been called out for having particularly rough development periods, though there are many other examples. In a recent interview with Kotaku, Co-Founder Marcin Iwiński and Cyberpunk 2077 Director Adam Badowski highlighted that CD Projekt Red, a studio that actually has a notable reputation for crunch within the industry, is taking steps to ensure the work-life balance of the developers there is more sustainable and that crunch isn’t mandatory.
“We’re known—let me be humble for a moment here—we are known for treating gamers with respect…And I actually would [like] for us to also be known for treating developers with respect.” Iwiński stated. He went on to say that “We’ve been working toward it for some time already…but we want to be more humane and treat people with respect. If they need to take time off, they can take time off. Nobody will be frowned upon if this will be requested.” Badowski also highlighted that there are personal motivations for this change as well: “We are getting older, and most of the people who are responsible for crunch, they have families, little kids, and they feel exactly the same.”
Overall, CD Projekt Red believes that the final stages of the highly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077’s development will “be better than The Witcher’s finishing period” in terms of crunch. While this all sounds great on paper, Kotaku also highlighted that some crunch may still exist within the studio following this shift and that the development of Cyberpunk 2077 hasn’t gone as smoothly as the general public may perceive it. One anonymous former CD Projekt Red developer even told Kotaku that “I’ve felt that there are hundreds of parallels that could be drawn between the story of the rocky development of Anthem and the story of the rocky and even-more-rocky-to-become development of Cyberpunk 2077.”
As for the crunch that will be retained, Iwiński told Kotaku “We’ve been communicating clearly to people that of course there are certain moments where we need to work harder—like I think the E3 demo is a pretty good example” and Badowski said “sometimes we have unique specialties, very unique people, and you cannot clone them. We need them to work on highly specific things. And we need to ask them to spend more time on something highly specific because there’s no other way to do it.”
While crunch may not completely dissipate, hopefully CD Projekt Red does stick to its word and end Cyberpunk 2077’s development with a period that’s light on stress like Marcin Iwiński is suggesting: “I think this is the commitment we’re ready to make today, and we’ll be listening to people. We definitely open a lot of lines of dialogue here, and we’d like to start with that.”