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What Is Crunch Culture in Video Games? – MUO – MakeUseOf

Video game developers are under a lot of pressure when they’re busy developing. Welcome to crunch culture, the world of the overworked dev.

People working in an office

The video games industry can be a difficult, complicated, and trying one. In giving us more of what we love, video game developers can go through hell in the last weeks, months, and sometimes years of a video game’s development cycle.

Here’s a quick explainer about an unchecked problem that’s rampant across the video games industry: crunch culture.

What Is Crunch Culture?

A person working on a computer in a coffee shop looking stressed

It can be natural to work hard on something you’re passionate about, especially if you’re close to sharing your creation with others. In the final days, weeks, or months, you might feel a last-minute surge of energy and motivation.

Crunch culture is different from this. It’s not just working extra hard on something you care about—it’s being directly or indirectly forced to work overtime at a near breaking point when you reached exhaustion many, many days ago.

Crunch culture in the video games industry is where video game developers work incredibly long hours, sometimes 80-100 hour weeks, with unpaid overtime the norm. It usually takes place in the final stages of a video game’s development cycle, to make sure that everything is as good as it can be before launch. However, crunch culture can extend beyond just the final weeks of development to months, and sometimes years.

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Though some will mention that crunch culture can yield fantastic video games, it largely results in burnout for a lot of video game developers. The long hours take their toll on both developers’ mental and physical health, even well after a game’s completion, and the workflow simply isn’t sustainable or productive if it constantly tires, demotivates, and saps happiness from employees.

It’s not just studios working on AAA games that crunch culture affects. Any video game studio can undergo crunch culture, whether is a major studio or independent studio, or if it’s a first, second, or third-party video game developer. However, it’s usually a given in any game studio working on AAA, large-scale, or popular video games due to the enormous amount of work on the table.

Sadly, crunch culture has become commonplace in the video games industry, and sometimes even proudly celebrated instead of criticized amongst figures in the video game industry.

Related: Ways Unreal Engine 5 Will Improve Video Games

Crunch Culture Is a Major Problem Surrounding Video Games

In its current state, crunch culture isn’t going anywhere. Although some people speak out against it, not enough people do and fewer people even know what crunch culture is.

Crunch culture is just one of the big problems surrounding the video games industry. Others include awful monetization tactics, locked content, and broken games at launch. For the all good video games give us, there’s a lot that needs to improve.

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