PAINKILLER Creative Director Believes Media Creates False Image of Crunch at CD Projekt Red

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Source: Adrian Chmielarz

Category: Video Game Industry

PAINKILLER Creative Director Believes Media Creates False Image of Crunch at CD Projekt Red

There's no denying that crunch has always been a touchy subject, and the recent situation at CD Projekt Red — award-winning studio responsible for Cyberpunk 2077 — still is the most discussed topic among players.

For those of you unfamiliar with the whole issue, CD Projekt Red is forcing employees to work overtime — six days a week — to make sure that their new title lives up to the standard set by their previous production, 2015's The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. Although crunch is nothing unexpected for companies in the industry — especially given there's a lot of pressure on Cyberpunk 2077 to succeed — it also goes directly against comments made by the bosses of CDP last year and their promise to avoid extreme crunch time at all costs.

While CD Projekt's Adam Badowski has already assured fans that "everyone is well compensated for every extra hour they put in" — the company is planning to split 10% of its (potentially record) annual earnings among employees — some journalists have decided to use internet to wage war against the Warsaw-based company, using their crunch practices as an example of the studio's allegedly inhumane working conditions; despite the important fact that everything CD Projekt Red does is legal according to the Polish Labour Code.

Disappointed with the current state of the discourse, Bullestorm Creative Director Adrian Chmielarz — who's had the chance to work on Gears of War: Judgement, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, and the Painkiller series — recently shared a lengthy post of Facebook, explaining what the media got wrong about "crunch culture."

"The truth about crunch isn't simple, it's a complicated issue that's not black and white," the renowned artist said (translated by GX). "I know people who got a job at CD Projekt, some of them were forced to crunch and ultimately decided to leave the company, telling stories about the studio that are pretty horrifying, but I also know people who crunched for even a longer period of time, and yet they are more than pleased with the experience and are not planning to part ways with CDPR anytime soon." 

"But where does crunch come from, exactly? Some homegrown activists and bleeding hearts would probably tell you that it's the fault of capitalists, vampires using economic pressure to exploit hard-working labourers, treating them like easily replaceable parts of a bigger machine," Chmielarz added.

"For some reason, nobody's wondering how that's viable at a time when every capable software developer or graphic designer can find a well-paid job in 10 different studios — and every major controversy also brings a bunch of financial issues companies have to deal with," the director said.

Considering that Chmielarz is a veteran game developer — who's been working in the gaming industry since 1992 — it's safe to say that he definitely knows what he's talking about. The co-founder of The Astronauts — the team behind The Vanishing of Ethan Carter — is currently developing the long-awaited Witchfire, a new FPS set in a world ruled by the Inquisition. According to Chmielarz, he does his best to create a stress-free work environment — and that's why the game has been in full development for more than 5 years now.