Naughty Dog: Comments on crunch in interview lead to controversy

Neil Druckmann and Evan Wells, the current leaders of Naughty Dog, once again spoke about the infamous crunch in a recent interview with Game Informer. Executives commented on how difficult it is to define what it is, a concept that can vary from person to person, and that they are working to find a way to avoid overdoing it without “trapping” the devs.

Wells and Druckmann’s speech resulted in criticism on social media, not only from gamers, but from other members of the gaming industry as well. One line in particular drew attention. A tweet (now deleted) from Katie Chironis, head of content design at Riot.

Anthony Vaccaro, environment artist at Naughty Dog, didn’t like to see Chironis criticizing the place where he works and did an extensive thread defending his bosses. Her conclusion is that change doesn’t just happen, and that she “should know this better than anyone, given the studio she works for and the problems they’re working to solve.”

Crunch is the name given to a common practice in game development: when a developer works for several hours at a time without rest, resulting in negative impacts on their health and relationships. More and more developers have spoken out about the problem of practice, which has resulted in pressure on developers not to let this happen in their game production.

Despite the difficulties that Naughty Dog has in solving the problem, other studios report a lot of success in avoiding the practice, including at Sony itself. Insomniac Devs, for example, celebrated a crunch-free release for Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart.