These days, the practice of crunch (where developers work overtime to ship a game) is a widespread phenomenon in the gaming industry, especially at triple-A game studios. Oftentimes the situation arises because the studio is put under pressure to deliver a game on time by a certain release date, which in turn requires their employees to put in long shifts, something that can end up having serious consequences for their health.
The latest major studio to come under fire is Naughty Dog, which comes after Kotaku's Jason Schreier published a report that reveals how Naughty Dog has been dealing with some serious internal problems that caused the delay of The Last of Us: Part II. After his report, animator Jonathan Cooper, who worked for Naughty Dog and is a veteran of the industry, reported his personal experience in the team.
In a series of tweets, Cooper told anyone interested about his personal experience and those of some of his former colleagues, stating that unfortunately, crunch is a rather widespread practice in some Naughty Dog's departments. The former ND-dev even wrote about colleagues who ended up in hospital after being exhausted due to working unsustainable hours.
"The reason I left is because I only want to work with the best. That is no longer Naughty Dog. Their reputation for crunch within LA is so bad it was near impossible to hire seasoned contract game animators to close out the project. As such we loaded up on film animators. A more senior team would have shipped TLOU2 a year ago."
Cooper also claimed that when he "left Naughty Dog late last year they threatened to withhold my final paycheck until I signed additional paperwork stating I wouldn't share their production practices. They finally relented when I assured them that was most likely illegal..."
Although his statement is yet to be verified, Cooper doesn't hold back on his former employers, even going so far as to suggest that Naughty Dog is as successful as it is thanks to the funds received from its parent company, and not just talent alone:
"Their success is due in large part to Sony's deep pockets funding delays rather than skill alone."
The Last of Us: Part II is due to land on PlayStation 4 on May 29.
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