If you’re not, here’s a very quick refresher. Riot Games, the company behind popular MOBA League of Legends, has been the subject of ongoing legal disputes revolving around a series of sexual harassment lawsuits and allegations of discrimination. Many describe the toxic atmosphere at this company as a “bro” culture as a result. But the real problem is what caused 150+ employees to stage a mass walkout. Riot Games uses forced arbitration clauses as a condition of employment, meaning employees forgo legal rights to work there. Many developers saw this as a sign that the company refused to do anything about the deeper allegations of discrimination.
Marcin Iwinski, co-founder of the developer behind Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher series, has spoken up about the nature of the issues. In his statements, he wanted to make something very clear. As CD Projekt Red has developed a very fruitful rapport with the players of their games, they also want to make sure the employees enjoy a similar level of support from the company. Iwinski acknowledged that crunch culture and its incredibly damaging effects are a widespread problem in the games industry, and he hopes that the company can help be part of the solution.
Marcin Iwinski essentially stated that CD Projekt wants to avoid getting into the problems Riot Games is facing, so he’s making a sort of informal vow to do better as a company. One major change this developer is making is the institution of a non-obligatory crunch policy. Starting with this policy, developers working for CD Projekt Red can essentially opt-out of working overtime on projects, but also request to take extra time on a project after hours or on weekends, if they so desire.
The company hopes that this idea accomplishes a few goals. For one thing, he’s hopeful that this will obviously improve morale, but that such ideas will provoke conversation in the wider industry and spark change. “I think this is the commitment we’re ready to make today, and we’ll be listening to people,” Iwinski said. “We definitely open a lot of lines of dialogue here, and we’d like to start with that.”
And as burnout and crunch become more pressing issues as the games industry evolves and grows, it’s a quite noble goal to put workers first and foremost, as they make the games we all love.
Cyberpunk 2077 is in development for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and next-gen platforms.