Would a developers working practices ever influence your purchase of a game?

There has been a lot of discussion around the topic of “crunch” practices during game development lately. Jason Schreier’s brilliant exposé on Bioware’s troubles during development of DA: Inquisition and now Anthem have really brought the topic of unhealthy work practices to the forefront. Stories about the toll that the dreaded “crunch” has had on the lives of many of the workers at development houses are surfacing more and more. Just the other day I read about how the runaway success of Fortnite has resulted in a high pressure, non-stop drive to produce new content and bug fixes for the game where employees dare not take time off and some are even working 100 hour weeks. [I’ll supply the links to all these articles as soon as I get chance]

Would a developers treatment of their staff ever affect your support or non-support of a game, or game franchise?


Yes, more on this tomorrow

1 Like

Quite probably, yes.

1 Like

It has specifically after Andromeda, I won’t easily support EA again. I have lost faith in them completely.

1 Like

I think people tend to forget this happens at Rockstar as well:

These articles usually only surface after a game’s release, which might make it difficult for those who purchase close to launch to know what the development process was like.

I think I might be uncomfortable with supporting a game if I knew this but honestly I can’t say for sure. How many people would pass on something like RDR2, for instance? Would boycotting a game actually not harm the interests of those developers, at least in the short term?


Crunch always comes down to poor planning. This can be managers just being inexperienced or naïve when it comes to dealing with large projects, understaffing a team(s) in the project, overcommitting/over promising (see No Man’s Sky) and last but not least, not saying no often enough.

It can be unavoidable, but it seems to have become the norm. The blame however is a bit harder to pinpoint if you look outside of the actual developer. Plenty of times the publisher and their marketing teams are to blame. They would push things like “You need to release x before y releases so we can maximise profits because our playerbase overlaps” and “You need to incorporate some features from y into x because that’s what we now believe will sell more copies”. My personal favourite “Your game did poorly in the test plays we had, none of the RPG players we chose liked your FPS, you should make it more RPG like”. All of these would make a sane developer tell the publisher to go take a long walk off a short pier.

However, it’s very common (and the following comes directly from contracts I’ve seen) to see them effectively boils down to we (the publisher) “shall determine, in its sole discretion, the manner and method of marketing and distribution of the Product, including, but not limited to, marketing expenditures, advertising and promotion, packaging, channels of distribution and the price of the Product” and “Developer shall not, directly or indirectly, develop, manufacture or distribute a product of the same genre as the Product for any party other than Publisher until the date of (insert years here) following the initial release of the Product”

and they nail it down with “Should Developer fail, to the reasonable satisfaction of Publisher,
to deliver satisfactory Design Specifications, Publisher may terminate this Agreement by written notice to Developer and all amounts paid by the Publisher in connection with the Product shall be fully refundable” and “After delivery to Publisher by Developer of each deliverable pursuant to the milestones identified in the Development Schedule in case of any rejection, will provide Developer with a reasonably detailed list of deficiencies in the Unapproved Deliverable. Developer will use its good faith, best efforts to correct the deficiencies (including, without limitation, any material bugs and deficiencies that affect game play
and/or compatibility) and will resubmit such Unapproved Deliverable, as corrected, as soon as reasonably practicable following Publisher’s rejection. Publisher will either accept or reject the corrected Unapproved Deliverables based upon the Acceptance Criteria. This procedure will continue until Publisher either (i) accepts the Unapproved Deliverable or (ii) elects to terminate this Agreement for material breach”

In other words “do as we say or you pay us back”


Probably not. I tend to try to forget about “politics” and just enjoy the game. If someone were to tell me now that Gearbox employees have to work 16 hours a day to get Borderlands 3 done, I would sympathise with them but it it won’t make me not buy the game.


The long answer is more complicated, but the simple answer is no.

Good games can be made without crunch, and bad games can be made with crunch. The developer’s process, while invariably tied to the product, doesn’t necessarily determine the quality of the product, which is what I’m interested in when buying it.

Put another way, would you buy a shitty game just because the developers were treated nicely?

This isn’t like fur, where purchasing a product encourages the practice. Crunch may be tied to consumer demand if you follow it down the value chain, but it’s more a reflection of publisher pressures and failures in studio management (as @PsychoFish mentioned above) .

A boycott (through not buying the games they make) would likely add even more pressure on the developers that suffered making it (poor sales, no bonuses, job losses), and does nothing to resolve the aforementioned factors that led to the pressure in the first place.

The pressure it puts on the publishers would likely also just lead to more pressure on the developers who need to deliver through sales, resulting in a pretty shitty vicious circle.

And this is where we can go down a rabbit hole about the gaming business - and business generally - as a whole.

Instead of doing that, I’d say the best (?) way to prevent these practices is for developers to unionise or get into a position that they can get the leverage to negotiate better working conditions. But it has to be done at scale, because unless everyone agrees to it, companies will always find people who are willing to work under these conditions for their craft.

As with most things, you kind of wish it didn’t have to get to that point, but regulation will have to step in where shitty businesses fail to check themselves before they wreck themselves.

But I’m always going to buy a great game that interests me - and I think the developers who worked so hard on that would want that.


No, their working conditions is their problem not mine.Developers screwing over the consumer yes. Will struggle to support any epic cash grabbing developer.

Id like to say yes but unfortunately its a no.

I knew of Rockstars heavy work pressure environment since the first RDR and I know that at least half of the Witcher 3 devs had a terrible time finishing that game.

I have all Rockstar games and Witcher games