Skip to main content

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

Halo: Reach Multiplayer
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career…
A Halo Infinite player has glitched into the game’s campaign co-op
A Spartan in Halo Infinite holding their AI companion.

Through a complicated series of steps, a Halo Infinite player has managed to glitch a broken version of campaign co-op.

Read more
Halo Infinite’s open world doesn’t hold up to past linear campaigns
Warthog in Halo Infinite.

I don't really remember the first time I played Halo 3. It was sometime in 2007 or 2008, I'm sure, but that's about all that's stored in my memory banks. What I do remember is the game's campaign and how I had no clue what was happening because Halo 3 was the first time I played a Halo game.

Halo 3's intro is still fresh in my mind, though -- that solemn, short monologue from Cortana before Master Chief crashes into the ground. I remember a UNSC base being attacked by swarms of alien bugs that could be taken out with a single shot of a magnum, the death of the Prophet of Truth, and attacking Scarabs in the ruins of a port.

Read more
Destiny 2 adds Halo-like weapons to celebrate Bungie’s 30th birthday
An array of Destiny guns laid out on a wall.

As part of its 30th anniversary celebration, Bungie is adding a variety of Halo-inspired weapons to Destiny 2. The weapons will be available to everyone, not just those who purchase the 30th Anniversary Pack, and are visually inspired by some of Halo's most famous weapons. The celebration went live today alongside a trailer celebrating the anniversary.

Destiny 2: Beyond Light - Bungie 30th Anniversary Trailer

Read more