Bethesda’s corporate culture has been occupying the press and gamers for several weeks. The developer was singled out for their use of Crunch and received full endorsement from the head of Xbox Games Studios. Indeed, in a recent question and answer session, Matt Booty said so to himself “optimistic” to the lack of crunch within the current teams.
A practice of the past
In early June, Kotaku shared the results of a survey of current and former Bethesda employees. Many exchanges and field reports thus returned to the development Fallout 76 and drew the outlines of a difficult time. A production that is characterized in particular by excessive working hours for the employees and excessive pressure.
interrogated on the subject, judged Matt Booty “unfair” the criticism addressed to the American studio. The head of Xbox Game Studios reminded that yesterday’s truths are no longer today’s. The crunch is an industry scourge, no doubt it was for Bethesda too, but at a different time. before it was owned by Microsoft.
The problem with many of these articles is that they look back, sometimes quite far in the past. […] Crunch culture is… if you go back 10 years, it’s kind of unfair to apply that to a studio. It was just part of the industry. I’m not saying that to justify it, I’m just saying that it was part of the culture of the industry. At the beginning of my career I literally slept under my desk.
trust and control
Far from legitimizing the crisis, Matt Booty reminded that overtime shouldn’t be a rule in business. And as such, he was convinced that it no longer had a place at Bethesda.
However, the man was aware that the crunch could be applied without his knowledge and also wanted to be sure of the procedures in place. Xbox wants to stand by the developers and deal openly with problem cases. For this reason, the American company sets up warning channels that are available to employees. “There are ways for them to report this to us anonymously through HR.”
Xbox has been taking a stance on these societal issues for a number of years. The company wants to be proactive and is committed to the well-being of developers. But whether at Ubisoft or Activision-Blizzard, HR has never been a big help. So it probably takes more than that.
In early 2022, Phil Spencer pledged to support the union wish of professionals in the industry. He had also said he wanted to recognize the union formed at Raven Software once the Activision Blizzard acquisition was complete.
And it’s actions by which we’ll judge whether Xbox is living up to its word. The reports from starfield or redfall are moving in that direction, giving developers time to pursue their ideas without imposing an unsustainable schedule. It now remains to ensure that this is indeed the reality of teams.