Nintendo Delayed 'Animal Crossing: New Horizons' To Avoid Crunch Into 2020
While Nintendo was originally aiming for a 2019 release for Animal Crossing on Switch, as part of Animal Crossing: New Horizons' reveal during Nintendo's E3 Direct it was announced that the game wouldn't be coming out until March 2020.
"Originally, we announced this title as a 2019 release, however we need to change its release date to March 20, 2020," deputy general manager of Nintendo's Entertainment Planning & Development Division Yoshiaki Koizumi said during the Direct. "To ensure the game is the best it can be, we must ask you to wait a little longer than we thought."
In an interview after the Direct, Nintendo of America's president Doug Bowser explained this was to avoid putting the developers through crunch conditions. "For us, one of our key tenets is that we bring smiles to people's faces, and we talk about that all the time," Bowser told IGN. "It's our vision. Or our mission, I should say. For us, that applies to our own employees. We need to make sure that our employees have good work-life balance.
"One of those examples is, we will not bring a game to market before it's ready. We just talked about one example [in Animal Crossing's delay]. It's really important that we have that balance in our world. It's actually something we're proud of."
Crunch has been a discussion point in the game industry for years. Back in 2004, a partner of an EA employee posted an article called 'The Human Story' on a blog called EA Spouse. In it they go into detail about how many long hours their partner was called on to work so regularly and the impact it had on them and their family. Despite the attention it drew 15 years ago, stories of crunch regularly emerge. Last year, Red Dead Redemption 2's launch was coupled with stories of hundred hour weeks and earlier this year, sources at Epic Games, told of endless crunch to meet the update cycle demanded by Fortnite fans.
It's excellent to hear people at the top of Nintendo talking about the problems crunch causes for its staff, and that it is possible to make games without crunch. Although, we'll need to do some digging to see if crunch has actually been eradicated from the company.
Featured Image Credit: Nintendo