The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Producer talks about crunch and overtime

Deleted member 249

User requested account closure
Banned
Oct 25, 2017
28,828
Schreier: There’s been a lot of conversation here in America about overtime hours, the hours it takes to get games like this out the door. What’s your team’s stance on overtime?

Aonuma: When creating a game, game development is all about the people. So if one of them or any of them aren’t well, that definitely affects the game and overall quality, and that’s just not good. We always try to think flexibly about delivery dates, and in the past I’ve apologized for delays. That’s because staff comes first, and I always want to think about it when creating a game.

Schreier:
Did you work long periods of overtime for games like Breath of the Wild?

Aonuma: Overall as a Nintendo work culture, we focus on flexibility. And so even the staff have that flexibility of when to focus, and use their energy on something, or they have a little bit of leeway in their work schedule, don’t have to exert themselves so much. They can maintain that balance themselves. Especially for Breath of the Wild, it was the same, and we focused on the staff. We didn’t have anybody be exerted or anything like that, and I think we were able to achieve our goal.
SOURCE

So we have more indication here that Nintendo's work culture is not at all stress or crunch intensive as is the case for most of the western game development industry. It's also clear that you don't need to be working 100 hour weeks to put out a masterpiece.

I figured this was worth its own thread, given the centrality that crunch and work culture discussions have on Era, but mods, please feel free to lock it if you disagree.
 

PucePikmin

Member
Apr 26, 2018
408
Well, it may not be crunch intensive by Japanese standards. Work culture is still pretty different over there.

Still, he does make a good point -- Nintendo will significantly delay shit, unlike pretty much every other major publisher, so that has to take some pressure off.
 
OP
OP

Deleted member 249

User requested account closure
Banned
Oct 25, 2017
28,828

John Omaha

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,401
Sadly, the conclusion other game studios will draw from this will be "Yeah, but that's Nintendo."

Kinda like how they insist on making 500 M budget blockbusters when Nintendo (among others) have time and time again proven that astronomical and unsustainable production values are not needed to be highly successful.
 

Aaronrules380

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
11,879
It’s nice to hear, though as always i’m A bit more skeptical when it’s coming from management for obvious reasons
 

NotLiquid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
17,884
I shouldn't be too surprised that Nintendo are a little less crunch heavy than the norm, given how they'll often delay their titles even if it impacts the balance sheet. Sakurai really seems to be the exception these days, and given that he's a freelancer, I suspect no one's going to stop him.
 
Oct 26, 2017
4,420
Sakurai (and Iwata was) is on different levels. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if a couple other game directors are like that as well. The difference is that the majority of programmers/developers aren't forced into that kind of life style.
I hope that's true. And I know he's external so that's not specifically Nintendo's business.
 

AlexFlame116

Member
Nov 17, 2017
16,711
Utah
Glad to see that Aonuma values his team and their health a lot! And they really do apologize a lot when things like delays or reworks happen like MP4.

Sakurai was the exception since he prefers to be as hands on with Smash as he possibly can physically. Besides he's not exactly a Nintendo employee right?
 

AlexFlame116

Member
Nov 17, 2017
16,711
Utah
I would hope that's not really the reason. If so, then we'd have to look at all of Nintendo's contracting jobs (How are all of the Namco-Bandai employees who work on switch doing in those regards I wonder?)
I was asking purely out of curiosity since I realized that he owns his own company called Sora so I just made the connection lol.

But you have a valid point. I don't honestly believe that Nintendo would push their contractors beyond their limits. But you never know!
 

spad3

Member
Oct 30, 2017
5,041
California
Who would've guessed that happy+healthy staff = better overall product due to better working conditions and possibly higher levels of productivity?

Nintendo keeping it classy.
 

TheMoon

|OT|
Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,605
Video Games
Who would've guessed that happy+healthy staff = better overall product due to better working conditions and possibly higher levels of productivity?

Nintendo keeping it classy.
Well, they can also afford to do it this way due to their long-standing history and financial security. Fear of the axe or the whim of random investors and chasing every sale is probably what drives Western/other JP studios to rely on crunch.
 

Alandring

Member
Feb 2, 2018
1,762
Switzerland
So we have more indication here that Nintendo's work culture is not at all stress or crunch intensive as is the case for most of the western game development industry. It's also clear that you don't need to be working 100 hour weeks to put out a masterpiece.
Yeah, if Aonuma say that, there isn't any doubt this is the truth. It would be interesting to have an interview from Rockstar or Naughty Dog about crunch, I'm sure they will say the truth.
 

moomoo14

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
441

Marin-Lune

Member
Oct 27, 2017
382
Sorry, I haven't been following these threads very carefully, but was there ever any mention of the horror stories back then about Mario 64 or OoT for example? Granted, that was a while ago, but putting Nintendo on a pedestal is kinda ironic knowing some of their past practices on that topic.
 
Nov 4, 2017
2,217
Overall as a Nintendo work culture, we focus on flexibility. And so even the staff have that flexibility of when to focus, and use their energy on something, or they have a little bit of leeway in their work schedule, don’t have to exert themselves so much. They can maintain that balance themselves.
This bit gives me the impression that there may be some intense days and late nights, but that staff are suitably repayed in money or time off in lieu. Which is great, it's what my workplace is like. I have no problem hanging back late if shit hits the fan, because it means I'll get extra money or time off another day. Everybody wins.
 

Mylatestnovel

Member
Jan 1, 2018
631

Menx64

Member
Oct 30, 2017
3,423
I wish people would stop quoting this. As anyone who has ever worked in any job knows, most overtime is unreported.

Add to that the fact that these figures are easily manipulated by adding in part time staff etc.

This figure, from their own recruitment, should be viewed with a heavy a
mount of suspicion.
I see this mentioned a few times and it sounds so weird in my ears.
I work for a big USA company in Costa Rica and I get paid every hour of overtime that I do. If I was working on a project, where I charge for an specific goal, I would agree, but for a regular job is totally rare not to get pay overtime.
 

HazySaiyan

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,336
West Yorkshire, UK
Shows how fucked the industry is that it's remarkable Nintendo don't work their employees to the point of breakdown.

Still I'm glad Nintendo are open about this, really puts the rest of the industry to shame.
 
Oct 27, 2017
7,380
Bandung Indonesia
Sorry, I haven't been following these threads very carefully, but was there ever any mention of the horror stories back then about Mario 64 or OoT for example? Granted, that was a while ago, but putting Nintendo on a pedestal is kinda ironic knowing some of their past practices on that topic.
The only "horror" stories I've heard, if you can even call them horror stories, are just really about how Miyamoto can be a really tough and demanding boss.

But that's in itself is not an indication of a crunchy crunchy work culture. And besides, it's pretty well known that Nintendo is a company with high employee retention rate.
 

tadaima

Banned
Oct 30, 2017
1,144
Tokyo, Japan
I'm pretty sure it is well known that Nintendo is basically an anomaly for the country, and perhaps the industry.

Staff are in office by 8:30 and out the door by 5.

I'm not sure if the same can be said for their subsidiaries or development partners. Living directly opposite Camelot Software Planning's studio, I know for a fact that there are still people in the office after 8pm. In the run up to Mario Tennis Aces, the lights were on much later.
 

Spinluck

Avenger
Oct 26, 2017
9,248
Florida
Dear devs,

delay your games, your life is more important than any game I'm willing to buy.

Oh wait it's not up to you guys... Nvm
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,435
During the Iwata Asks era (gee they were good) wasn't it stated that Miyamoto would regularly pick a selection of employees across the company and 'kidnap' them? For games design purposes of course!

That was another example of when Nintendo does reveal a peek behind the curtain, it sounds quite interesting and unique. I hope to hear more about it one day.
 

sfortunato

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,179
Italy
I can assure you working conditions at Nintendo are pretty sustainable and way above Japanese standards. This doesn't mean working there is easy or not demanding---in fact, as far as I know, it is one of the most difficult companies to be hired by and they have pretty high expectations from employees. Also, it is a very hierarchic company and has strict rules. However, the working environment is good and kind of relaxed versus other companies in the same industry. This shows in the quality of their games.
 

FF Seraphim

Member
Oct 26, 2017
5,881
Tokyo
Well, it may not be crunch intensive by Japanese standards. Work culture is still pretty different over there.

Still, he does make a good point -- Nintendo will significantly delay shit, unlike pretty much every other major publisher, so that has to take some pressure off.
So far we know Sony will allow delays as well and it pays off. Wonder what From does.
 

Cudpug

Member
Nov 9, 2017
1,204
I know it's a different work culture to many are used to in Japan, but my understanding is that employees tend to stay at Nintendo for years. So that would suggest they're a good company to work for and that they don't lay off staff at the end of projects, which already makes them better than a chunk of the industry.
 

GigiF

Member
Dec 11, 2017
357
if japan is now starting to rein in its crunch work ethic, does that mean America might soon be the only country that continues to maintain it as part of the development cycle/culture??
 

Alandring

Member
Feb 2, 2018
1,762
Switzerland
So do you not trust Schreier to do his due diligence in writing this story?
Do you read the chapter about The Witcher 3 in Blood, Sweats and Pixels ? It didn't say anything about crunch, even if we know that CD Projekt crunched really, really hard for this game.

But it's not about Jason Schreier. He's an amazing journalist, but japanese employees don't speak to western journalists. And Japan is a country where people work really hard, way more than in Europe or in North America. For example, last year, a law capped overtime to 100 hours by month. It's even hard to understand how someone can do 100 hours of overtime in only one month, but it shows how Japan is.
 

Raging Spaniard

Artist at EA Star Wars
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
2,193
Schreier doesnt clarify this to Aonuma and I wish he would: when you ask a Japanese dev about overtime you need to be clear about the hoursand days involved because crunch culture in Japan is VERY different so Aonumas very vague answer doesnt mean much, hes just saying nobody died from overtime which ... ok? He might not think 60/70 hour weeks is crunch because in Japan thats almost expected, but its still crunch. I wish these questions where more specifics oriented otherwise its just the glorified company PR saying that nope people under me are happy I did not mismanage them move along haha nothing to see here.
 

Strings

Member
Oct 27, 2017
10,629
if japan is now starting to rein in its crunch work ethic, does that mean America might soon be the only country that continues to maintain it as part of the development cycle/culture??
Trust me, Japan is not reining it in. There's been more and more attention on it over the years due to karoshi and the like, but their government is paying that sort of thing the minimum amount of lip service and keeping on.
 

Deleted member 19218

User requested account closure
Banned
Oct 27, 2017
4,323
It’s nice to hear, though as always i’m A bit more skeptical when it’s coming from management for obvious reasons
I'm sceptical also. A delay to a game's release doesn't necessarily mean there is no crunch time, it isn't outside the realm of possibility that a game could require so much work that there is both a crunch period and delay.

I think I will trust Nintendo but I will remain somewhat wary.
 

Mylatestnovel

Member
Jan 1, 2018
631
I see this mentioned a few times and it sounds so weird in my ears.
I work for a big USA company in Costa Rica and I get paid every hour of overtime that I do. If I was working on a project, where I charge for an specific goal, I would agree, but for a regular job is totally rare not to get pay overtime.
I work as a teacher.
 

dose

Member
Oct 29, 2017
462
He kind of skirts around the issue to be honest. He doesn't specifically say they didn't work long hours, just that they think about 'flexilibity'. That doesn't clraify it tbh.
Aonuma is known well enough, we can call him by name.
Maybe to some, I and I'm sure others, have no idea. I'm glad the OP made it clear.