Last week, Kotaku published a report on the culture of crunch at The Last of Us Part 2 developer Naughty Dog. Over the weekend, several commented on the matter, yet VP Neil Druckmann and Naughty Dog put out a different kind of message.
On Twitter, Druckmann praised the "unsung heroes" of The Last of Us Part 2's development, the production team. He didn't make any mention of the Kotaku article.
Some unsung heroes of Part II are the members of our production team. Y'all have brought order to our chaos, wrangled a complex schedule, and facilitated valuable communication. Game wouldn't be what it is without you. Hats off.- Neil Druckmann (@Neil_Druckmann) March 14, 2020
Anthony Newman, co-game director at Naughty Dog, shared an image of the design team celebrating with a champagne toast. "We still have a ways to go," Newman writes. "But it was a great moment to reflect on the impossible feats this incredible team has been able to accomplish both creatively and technically."
On Friday, @AsherEinhorn surprised the design team with a champagne toast. We still have a ways to go, but it was a great moment to reflect on the impossible feats this incredible team has been able to accomplish both creatively and technically. The complexity of the scripting... pic.twitter.com/pYMWEK2Iy9- Anthony Newman (@BadData_) March 16, 2020
Kotaku's Jason Schreier reports that, speaking to numerous sources from the studio, developers at Naughty Dog have been working 12-or-more-hour days. He attributes turnover at the studio to this culture.
Former Naughty Dog animator Jonathan Cooper tweeted a thread about the studio (collected in this Reddit thread) about crunch at the studio. The animator discussed several issues within the culture, including overwork and turnover, though he was later derided for comments he made about staffers.
No official comment from Naughty Dog has been made, though it has inspired more discussion of crunch among developers, some even advocating for it. Others, meanwhile, point to this as a reason for more unionization in the industry.
The Last of Us Part 2 will launch for PlayStation 4 on May 29, 2020.