In a recent interview with Game Informer, Naughty Dog co-presidents Even Wells and Neil Druckmann were quizzed about crunch at the studio, especially in light of reports that emerged during The Last of Us Part II‘s development. In response, the duo said that the company has found that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem, and mandating certain working hours or days hasn’t quite worked.
“We’ve tried stuff in the past where we’ve said, ‘Okay, no working past this hour,’ or, ‘It’s mandatory that no one can work on Sunday,’ and they’re always a lot of corner cases of someone saying, ‘Well, I couldn’t work on Friday because I had to be with my kids. It’s actually more convenient for me to come in on Sunday,’” Druckmann explained. “When you try to have a silver bullet, like one solution, you’re always leaving someone behind.”
A number of people took to Twitter to criticize Wells and Druckmann, arguing that their statements reflect poorly upon Naughty Dog’s management. In response, the studio’s Environment Artist Anthony Vaccaro pushed back against the allegations. He tweeted:
Interesting seeing someone who has never worked at your studio speak as if they know its leadership’s actions based off a quote from an article. The effort put in by leadership AND employees over the last year+ to find multiple solutions for crunch and studio culture is dramatic.
Finding the balance of letting devs push for things they are passionate about while not causing themselves or others to crunch is difficult and takes time. The one sized approach has always failed and Leads recognize that so the whole team is working hard for multiple solutions. Instead of leadership just telling the studio X or Y will be the solution they have been engaging the entire studio to speak up, participate in finding ways to combat crunch from various different angles and what’s important to each employee in a work life balance.
Change doesn’t happen instantly and takes a lot of hard work from all members of the team which thankfully we have. You of all people should know that given the studio you work for and the issues they are working to fix. But hey dog pile onto ‘ND crunch’ and get your likes I guess.
The specific tweet critical of Naughty Dog that Vaccaro was responding to has since been deleted.