Kotaku is a popular website for knowing about various developments in the video games industry. In fact, the website has been consistent in reporting various upcoming developments in gaming. Therefore, it is frequently visited by gamers. However, it has been a centre of certain controversies in the past and was even blacklisted by companies like Sony, Ubisoft, and Bethesda. In spite of that, Kotaku continues to be a leading website in gaming-related information.
On the 8th of June, Kotaku published an article, which was about the alleged crunch culture in Bethesda and ZeniMax. The report talked about the time when the development of Fallout 76 was underway. Recently, Matt Booty, the Xbox head, responded to the claims made in the report during an all-hands meeting on Thursday. Booty defended Bethesda by stating that the studio is absolutely free from crunch culture. Read the article to know what exactly Matt Booty said.
The Kotaku Report About Crunching
Kotaku published a report on the 8th of June. In that report, they stated that during the development of Bethesda’s multiplayer, open-world RPG Fallout 76, the working condition was crushing. In fact, they stated that the quality assurance testers informed that they worked for 10 hours, six days a week. The testers further claimed that the project managers forced them to work overtime. In fact, this very fact led many developers to leave the job.
In addition, Kotaku stated that the former workers of Bethesda accused Xbox of taking a hands-off attitude in the management of ZeniMax. It thereby frustrated the workers, who were hopeful regarding Microsoft’s take over. In fact, the former employees of Undead Labs also accused Xbox of taking a hands-off approach.
Matt Booty’s Response
Matt Booty, the head of gaming at Xbox, recently asked to comment on the report published by Kotaku on 8th June. At first, he claimed that Xbox is very serious in dealing with crunch reports. However, he also stated that the reports such as the one published by Kotaku, “ look backward, sometimes pretty far back in time”. He further added that it is “unfair” to blame one particular studio for crunching, as the crunch culture was a part of the gaming industry in the past. However,
At the same time, Booty stated that the crunch culture is a past issue and has nothing to do with the present working condition. Therefore, he claimed that the crunch culture that the Kotaku report was talking about is a thing of the past. He further clarified that he has talked to the leaders at Bethesda. They have confirmed to him that such a work culture is not present in the studio. At the same time, Matt stated that there might be certain cases of crunching that might escape his knowledge. In that case, he urged the employees to have faith in the internal processes of Xbox. He informed further that the human resource development is there to hear the concerns of the employees. The employees also have the option to report to the HR department, remaining anonymous.
Speaking about overtime work, Matt said that it should never be compulsory in production scheduling. In spite of that, some testers of ZeniMax testers overworked due to social and professional peer pressure. They were not explicitly mandated to do that. In fact, Kotaku tried to get Matt’s remarks on the issue. But they failed to elicit any response from him.
The crunching issue that the earlier Kotaku report reported happened before Xbox’s taking over of ZeniMax and Bethesda. However, the article also stated that even at that time, Xbox was the “hands-off” owner. Therefore, some changes were expected in the working condition from that time. But no such changes occurred. Even while addressing the allegations of crunching, Matt Booty did not elaborate on the actions that Xbox will take if any of its studios get involved in the crunch culture.
Moreover, after the publication of the report on June 8, Microsoft refrained from making any public comment about the working conditions at ZeniMax media. Therefore, this naturally sparks up the fire of suspicion among gaming enthusiasts. The crunch culture is, in fact, a very problematic issue. In workplaces, it becomes a painful thing to survive. Therefore, Xbox should look into its studios to ensure that they are crunch-free.
Also Read: 11 Best Free PC Games