'The Last Of Us Part II' Is Releasing At 'Huge Cost' To Staff
When The Last Of Us Part II was delayed late last year, many fans assumed that it would give the development team at Naughty Dog a little breathing room. It was hoped that the four-month delay, which was announced so that the team could add "extra polish" to the game, would lessen crunch.
As it turns out, that wasn't the case at all. Instead of lessening the workload, The Last Of Us Part II's delay actually led to a sustained period of crunch for staff at Naughty Dog. The much-anticipated PS4 exclusive will be launching in May at a "huge cost" to the employees who've worked on it.
That's according to an in-depth new report from Kotaku that shines a light on the crunch culture at Naughty Dog. Kotaku spoke to multiple anonymous developers both at and formerly of the studio, who spoke frankly about the game's delay from February to May. The majority seemed to agree that the delay did nothing to alleviate the pressure on the team.
"People thinking the extension is somehow to relieve stress or the workload on the team are wrong," one developer explained. "The first thing that they wanted to reiterate is that we aren't slowing down the pace."
It is worth pointing out that at least some of the team were relieved when the game was delayed, as it would have apparently been a "mess" if it had released last month as intended. A number of developers who spoke to Kotaku also acknowledged that crunch is something you should expect at a studio like Naughty Dog, which is famous for its perfectionism.
Another developer explained, "That's one of the reasons crunch always happens here. People are given the freedom to keep working longer, to push the envelope of what they are working on, to make things just 10 percent better. It's what the studio looks for when hiring people."
Regardless, one of the team told Kotaku that the game is "really good," but that it's come at a "huge cost" to the people who worked on it.
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The report goes on to say that a number of developers have described Naughty Dog as both one of the best and worst places to work. During crunch periods, staff can end up working 12 hour days and come in to carry on at weekends.
One particularly troubling account tells how a bunch of Naughty Dog staff were working on The Last Of Us Part II at 9pm on a Friday night, when a metal pipe fell from the ceiling and nearly hit them. Construction workers were on the floor above doing work and had no idea that anyone else would be there since it was so late.
"They do try to take care of you, providing food, encouragement to go take breaks," One former developer said. "But for the most part, the implication is: 'Get the job done at all costs.'"
Unfortunately, this isn't the first we've heard of crunch periods for games releasing this year. CD Projekt RED confirmed that the Cyberpunk 2077 team would be expected to work extra-long hours following the games delay, while id Software said that it crunched for most of last year to get DOOM Eternal ready its original release date. Despite this, Bethesda still ended up pushing the FPS back from November 2019 to March 2020.
Featured Image Credit: Sony