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Crunch at Bungie contributed to Halo co-creator’s departure

Halo: Reach Multiplayer

Halo and Destiny developer Bungie is one of the most acclaimed shooter studios in the game industry, but the company also has a reputation for “crunch” on its projects. For Halo co-creator Marcus Lehto, this culture was a factor in his decision to ultimately leave the studio.

Speaking in a roundtable interview with GameSpot, Lehto explained that Bungie’s crunch periods could last for several months, and this burnout played a role in his decision to ultimately leave the studio. He subsequently founded V1, which is working on the original shooter game Disintegration at the moment. The studio limits extended working hours to around one week at a time in order to mitigate mental and physical stress.

“We don’t want to experience [crunch]. We don’t want to replicate that at all again,” Lehto added in the interview. “So at V1, one of our primary goals with the studio is making sure that we create an atmosphere where everybody is intimately involved with what we’re working on, so there is a lot of responsibility on everybody’s shoulders. And everybody wears several hats.”

Disintegration - Technical Beta Trailer | PS4

Digital Trends has reached out to Bungie for comment on its current studio culture, and if crunch has been reduced more recently.

Lehto was involved at Bungie up through the first Destiny game’s early development. As recently as last June, Bungie announced it was delaying a patch in Destiny 2 in order to help preserve a work-life balance for its development staff. The expansion Destiny 2: Shadowkeep also experienced a slight delay before its launch on October 1, 2019.

Within the last week, developer CD Projekt Red has also come under fire for its plan to crunch while finishing Cyberpunk 2077. The decision was revealed by CEO Adam Kiciński less than a year after the studio claimed it would never crunch on the game. Other high-profile studios who have been accused of crunch include NetherRealm, the now-defunct Telltale Games, Rockstar Games, Epic Games, and Treyarch. Treyarch, which is owned by former Bungie partner Activision, reportedly had contracted quality assurance testers working 70 hours per week in the year leading up to Call of Duty: Black Ops 4‘s release.

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