“Path of Exile” lead developer Chris Wilson doesn’t want to make his employees crunch to put out updates for the online action role-playing game. That’s according to a lengthy Reddit post Wilson published on Wednesday addressing some concerns the community has about the game’s ongoing development.
“Some studios make their teams work 14 hour days to pack every patch full of the most fixes and improvements possible,” Wilson said. “Sometimes when we read our own patch notes threads and community feedback, we feel that we are being asked to do the same. I will not run this company that way.”
While he believes some paid overtime is inevitable, especially near the launch of new “Path of Exile” leagues, WIlson said the vast majority of the game’s development cycle has great work/life balance. This is necessary, he said, to keep the team at Grinding Gear Games happy and healthy for the long-term, but it also means players will have to wait longer for some needed improvements.
Developer crunch is currently a hot topic in the gaming industry, with many calling for unionization to protect workers from alleged exploitative practices. There have been multiple reports in recent months about excessive work hours at major studios like BioWare and Epic Games. Some BioWare employees told Kotaku said they suffered from depression and anxiety. Others had to reportedly take doctor-ordered stress leave that lasted weeks or months. The studio refuted those claims, however, and said it takes the health and well-being of its team members very seriously.
Meanwhile, about a dozen current and former employees at Epic Games told Polygon they regularly worked in excess of 70 hours per week following the massive success of battle royale title “Fortnite.” Others said they worked 100 hours, a claim also recently made by Rockstar Games developers who worked on “Red Dead Redemption 2.”
As for “Path of Exile,” Wilson said certain issues haven’t been addressed to the community’s satisfaction because of the sheer amount of things the team has been working on. The game’s new Synthesis League was more work than they expected, he said. An upcoming “mega-expansion” is also taking up huge amounts of the studio’s time. So is “Path of Exile’s” Korean launch and this year’s ExileCon. While many of these things the team is working on will make “massive and lasting fundamental improvements” to the game, Wilson said they come at a cost.
“I am very sorry about this,” he said. “One of our key values is our relationship with our community. We feel that our internal emphasis on longer term improvements to ‘Path of Exile’ has caused some damage to that relationship in the short term. We will make sure that we find a good balance between addressing immediate concerns and making the long-term improvements the game needs.”