Brink developer 'plans ahead to avoid as much overtime as possible'

Crunch is not the natural way – Splash Damage

The CEO of one of the UK’s most high-profile studios says crunch work shouldn’t be anything beyond a last resort.

Splash Damage chief Paul Wedgwood said “nailing the crunch problem is a real priority”, amid a newly opened debate on the surreptitious industry practice.

Wedgwood told Edge that his London studio asks staff to work an average of 160 hours every four weeks. He admitted that his group hits its crunch periods, but believes studios should plan to minimise the expectation on overtime.

"We constantly strive to improve production so that [crunch] isn’t a demand that we take for granted, [or a demand] that we assume we’re going to be able to make,” he said.

“I think that’s absolutely critical.”

Splash Damage shot to number one in the UK retail charts earlier in the year with the release of its biggest project to date; Brink.

Wedgwood, who has cultivated his indie studio from its founding PC mod roots, said crunch is inevitable during the staccato flow of game development.

“There’s just no way of avoiding it,” he said. “Things just get forgotten. We’re human, you know? We make mistakes.

“For Splash Damage, when we do overtime, it’s planned in advance and we’re able to compensate people appropriately for, in an ideal world, volunteering to do additional work. That’s the ultimate ideal goal."

An industry nerve was hit in June when Australian studio Team Bondi faced a surge of allegations that it enforced particularly elongated periods of unpaid overtime.

In-house development staff have since stepped in to defend Team Bondi and its studio head Brendan McNamara.

But a perceived lack of empathy remains at the heart of the issue. Wedbush Morgan analyst angered developers this week after claiming unpaid overtime was not an issue that deserved scrutiny.

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