Hello again, game pals! Emily here, bringing you yet another week of the good ol’ GYGO. We all know that E3 was last week, so let’s cut to the chase:
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Announced
Nintendo finally announced at E3 that Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be released on March 20, 2020! We finally have a release date. While the date itself is significantly later than they had originally implied, new Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser (I will never get over his name) has stated that this delay is to avoid crunch. I am extremely willing to wait a few more months if it means the developers get to experience a healthy work-life balance.
Doug bowser: Animal Crossing is going to be delayed…
Doug Bowser: … So our employees can have a healthy balance between work and their lives.
Me: Take all the goddamn time you need, you wonderful people.
— Eunnie @ CEO2019 (@eunnieverse) June 12, 2019
Also, a Sequel to Breath of the Wild
Nintendo confirmed that it is creating a sequel to Breath of the Wild, as a surprise announcement at the end of its E3 presentation. We really don’t know much more than that, but I, for one, am stoked as hell.
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) June 11, 2019
See for Yourself
Look, I’m delighted by a lot of the announcements made at E3, but I won’t make you sit here and read yet another highlight reel. Instead, check out one of these other compilations of stories about E3:
This Week In Crunch
As games and the gaming industry get larger and more ambitious, developers and studios have taken to forcing mandatory overtime on their workers to meet deadlines and demand. This controversial and exploitative workplace culture—where employees are overworked, underpaid, and burnt out, followed frequently by mass layoffs and ever-increasing wage inequality between workers and high-paid executives—is known as “crunch.” TWIC is a column within a column where Emily Durham brings you news about this week’s world of crunch.
So along with E3’s many announcements, there was inevitably also quite a lot of (external) discourse around the crunch problem in the games industry.
Most notably, while people were distracted by E3 presentations, Amazon quietly laid off dozens of game developers from Amazon Game Studios, which is currently developing the online games Crucible and New World. This is just the latest in the spate of massive layoffs in the games industry.
In the ever-expanding Riot Games Lawsuit Cinematic Universe, Riot is being officially investigated for gender pay discrimination by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
remember that time we didn’t hire a man as a writer’s assistant at Riot because a higher-up said “no guy wants ‘assistant’ in his title” so they hired him into a better role?
it was a very cool time, hearing that as a woman and a writer’s assistant https://t.co/jw32pBXLOg
— leslee, trailer treasure ✨ (@leslee_annsh) June 13, 2019
Now, I personally think that Cyberpunk 2077 is going to be underwhelming at best and a racist trash fire at worst, but on top of that, I think crunch is going to be a big problem for its developers. My feelings on this were further solidified by the announcement by CD Projekt Red saying that it wants to ensure that its developers don’t have to endure the same crunch that they experienced when producing The Witcher 3. Its official stance is one of “non-obligatory crunch,” a policy that says that developers don’t have to work long hours if they don’t want to.
On the surface, that sounds fine, but if you think about it, it’s still encouraging developers to work long hours to get things done. Sort of like, “only take a break if you really, really think you need it.” And, as THE DISCOURSE has quickly pointed out, the ones not participating in crunch will inevitably be made to feel guilty when others are crunching, and management will almost certainly overlook them for promotions or worse, fire them for a perceived lack of work ethic. So yeah. I don’t think “non-obligatory crunch” is a particularly confidence-inspiring concept.
Guy Who Decides Whether Workers Get Promoted Or Fired Says Workers Can Decide Whether To Work More https://t.co/Sr8kR1bpNQ
— neoliberal evangelion (@Ettin64) June 15, 2019
Non-obligatory crunch is such an underhanded term. So often in industry crunch can happen over a guilt that others are crunching and you are not. The work environment or choice of words from production/management can make you feel like you need to crunch even if it's "optional" https://t.co/2vjncjcPQG
— Archie Yates (@_archieyates) June 16, 2019
In Other News…
- Shark roleplaying game Maneater is like Grand Theft Auto, but as a shark
- Report: E3 2019 was a bad year for female representation in video games
- Take-Two expects shorter gaps between releases
- New Overwatch short story stars Baptiste, teases new skin
- Overwatch launches new in-game challenge with a Baptiste skin
- ThinkGeek officially absorbed by GameStop
Emily Durham is a science writer by day and a Sidequest copyeditor by night. When she’s not writing or editing, you can find her playing Stardew Valley or Sunless Sea, sewing korok cosplays, or taking blurry pictures of her two perfect cats. She tweets sporadically at @EmilyRoseDurham.