Ghost Recon Breakpoint Producer On Emphasizing "Work and Life Balance" Over Crunch

Ghost Recon Breakpoint Producer On Emphasizing "Work and Life Balance" Over Crunch

Despite an ambitious content roadmap, Ubisoft executive producer Nouredine Abboud explains how Ubisoft is staying on track.

Holidays are an important part of workplace in France. Unlike Americans, who tend to feel embarrassed even asking for holidays, the French will often vanish for a month at a time during the summer.

This tradition would seem to be at odds with game development, where crunch is continuously highlighted as a very real issue, but Ghost Recon Breakpoint executive producer Nouredine Abboud insists that work-life balance is as much a priority as ever.

"Work and life balance is very important not just for me as a producer, but as a human being," Abboud tells USgamer. "I like surfing a lot, and I want to make sure that my work always makes sense with my passions. If I apply this to myself, I think it's important that I apply it to the whole team."

Squaring this desire with the massive amount of work required to make a game like Breakpoint obviously isn't easy. Like Wildlands before it, Breakpoint is a large open-world shooter featuring both solo and multiplayer content. As a live service game, Ubisoft's ambitious content plan calls for 12 new faction missions per day, as well as multiple post-launch episodes.

This isn't all that's on the Ghost Recon team's plate. It's also averaging a title update a month on Ghost Recon Wildlands. As recently as July, Wildlands got an entirely new PvPvE mode called Mercenaries. That's a lot for one team to handle.

In light of games like Apex Legends intentionally keeping its content plans conservative in order to avoid overworking its developers, it's easy to wonder how Ubisoft is making it all work. The answer, it turns out, is to have a bigger team than anyone else.

Abboud credits the ability to maintain work-life balance to a battle-hardened group of more than 1000 people across eight studios who are coming off two years of working on Wildlands. "This team was able to deliver nearly one update per month [for Wildlands] and work on Breakpoint at the same time," Abboud says. "It says a lot about our capability as a team that we were able to do that while retaining work and life balance. This is not a promise for the future, this is the reality."

Abboud says this sort of scale affords the flexiblity to give developers time off as necessary, and also results in fewer bottlenecks. The Ghost Recon Breakpoint team is scattered across eight European studios, including Paris, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Bucharest, Belgrade, Odessa, Kiev, and Milan. While this structure might have the potential to be unwieldy, Abboud sees it as a strength.

"If you have people in eight countries with the management and motivation, and they know what they're doing, this gives you flexibility," he says, "We have Bucharest working on the PvP, they're motivated and know what they're doing."

Ubisoft is not the first publisher to attempt a multi-studio structure, but it does seem to have perfected the logistics needed for far-flung teams to collaborate successfully. Other publishers, most notably EA, have tried, but have run into difficulties with time zones and other issues. Mass Effect: Andromeda was one game where even the most basic tasks could be onerous owing to the logistics involved.

Larian Studios similarly had trouble integrating multiple studios while working on Divinity: Original Sin 2. Among other things, Larian tried to have the studios develop every act in parallel, resulting in a massive headache as studio founder Swen Vincke struggled to review dialogue from Ghent while in Quebec. Vincke claims the decision to shift resources to developing one act at a time "saved the project."

Ubisoft, with its network of 26 studios from Montreal to Sofia, appears used to such challenges. Abboud says he's lucky to have the publisher's resources at his disposal as he and his team race to finish Breakpoint. "As long as it's a goal, work and life balance, and you have the means, and the size... and I'm lucky because I'm working at Ubisoft, so I have access to studios, talent, and motivation, and not everyone is lucky enough."

We have just about a month to go until Ghost Recon Breakpoint is out. It will release on October 4 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. You can register for the open beta here.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Kat Bailey

Editor in Chief

Kat Bailey is a former freelance writer and contributor to publications including 1UP, IGN, GameSpot, GamesRadar, and EGM. Her fondest memories as a journalist are at GamePro, where she hosted RolePlayer's Realm and had legal access to the term "Protip." She is USgamer's resident mecha enthusiast, Pokemon Master, and Minnesota Vikings nut (skol).

Read this next

Ubisoft is Working On a "More Radical and Immersive" Ghost Recon Breakpoint

Breakpoint's developers promise that they're working on changes in response to fan feedback.

Ubisoft's Yves Guillemot Addresses Myriad of Concerns Over Breakpoint's Lackluster Launch

"While the change of formula has been very well received by some players [...] it has also been strongly rejected by a significant portion of the community."

Ghost Recon Breakpoint is Still Lacking the One Thing Fans Truly Want

Hardcore fans want Breakpoint to be a harder survival experience.

Ghost Recon Breakpoint Weapons: Blueprint Locations, Upgrades and Signature Weapons

Here's everything you need to know about the weapons in Ghost Recon Breakpoint. From Blueprint Locations to rarities and upgrades, we've got you covered!

Ghost Recon Breakpoint Review: Lost in the Wilderness

The Ghosts face off against the Wolves in new type of Ghost Recon.

Ghost Recon Breakpoint: How to Kill Walker Early

You can actually kill the big bad of Breakpoint early on in Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Here’s how.

More News

Former Arkane Founder and Producer Team Up to Form New Studio

And you won't have to wait long to see what they're working on.

Halo: Reach's PC Version Sports an Enhanced Mode That Goes Beyond Performance

Digital Foundry got a look at Reach for PC and liked what they saw.

More on PC

Where to Get All the Skins for the Mantis in Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order

Here's where to find every paint job for your spaceship.

Former Arkane Founder and Producer Team Up to Form New Studio

And you won't have to wait long to see what they're working on.

Best Places for Fishing in Red Dead Online

Fishing can be more profitable than any hold-up, if done right.

Where to Find All BD-1 Skins in Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order

We show you where to get every possible paint job for your droid companion.

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order: How to Unlock Double Jump

You’ll need the double jump ability to access certain areas in Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order. Here’s how to unlock it.

In Defense of Cal Kestis, Jedi: Fallen Order's Dorkiest Padawan

There's more to Fallen Order's red-headed Jedi than meets the eye.

Halo: Reach's PC Version Sports an Enhanced Mode That Goes Beyond Performance

Digital Foundry got a look at Reach for PC and liked what they saw.

More Shooter Games

The Game Awards 2019 Nominations: Control and Death Stranding Among Top Nominees

And Smash Bros. gets some belated acknowledgement.

Half-Life is Back

And it's a VR game.

Xbox Game Studios Head Says Game Pass is Solving Monetization Woes

"It allows our game creators to do what they do best, which is make a game."