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Warframe players speak out against crunch

Free-to-play acrobatic shooter Warframe just dropped its second expansion, bringing a whole lot of new stuff to the game. It was doubtlessly a lot of work for developers Digital Extremes – but, say some of its players, hopefully not too much. In a positive step, they’ve encouraged the team to avoid overwork and crunch, even if that means the game gets slower updates.

If you’ve been following games news lately, you might have heard a thing or two about crunch. It’s rarer to hear about fans telling developers that their health is more important than their work, but that’s exactly what Reddit user Spacesheepie did, creating a graphic referencing Stress Awareness Day that reads in part “crunch is bad for wellbeing.”

Other users chimed in their support, too, making the post a pretty wholesome thing to scroll through. Many, posting before expansion Fortuna released yesterday, said they wouldn’t mind if it were delayed, if that would allow the developers to work reasonable hours. “I’d rather have a late Fortuna than an exhausted and dispirited team,” wrote one.

Spacesheepie also tackles some of the big misconceptions when it comes to crunch, like arguing that developers working 60, 70, or 100 hour weeks are just “passionate.” “Humans need rest, time with family, etc. regardless of their passion for their work,” they write. “Workaholicism is also a thing, and isn’t healthy, sometimes we get lost in our projects and don’t take the time we need to rest,” they add in another comment.

Digital Extremes are relatively engaged with the Warframe community, regularly streaming to provide updates about the game. Development lead Steve Sinclair even broadcast the final few hours before Fortuna’s deployment, touring the office with his phone. Perhaps it’s this inside look at the humans who make the game that’s prompted empathy among fans (not that it should be necessary).

The expansion itself also seems thematically relevant to all these discussions about labour conditions, capitalism, and unionisation, with players joining up with a rebellion in a debt-driven penal colony, where body parts – robotic or organic – can be “repossessed” as payment.

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Jay Castello

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Jay writes about video games, falls down endless internet rabbit holes, and takes a lot of pictures of flowers.

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