A recent report has claimed that development on Fallout 76 was subject to lengthy crunch and numerous members of staff quitting.
The extensive report comes from Kotaku, speaking to 10 former employees of Bethesda about the much troubled, online-only Fallout 76, and the large issues of crunch it faced. And the report does not speak highly of the game’s development period.
Opening the report is one developer telling Kotaku that “No one wanted to be on that project because it ate people. It destroyed people. The amount of people who would go to that project, and then they would quit [Bethesda] was quite high.”
According to the report, testers that worked in the lead up to the launch of the game would crunch 10-hour days, six days a week. And some would only find peace after leaving the Fallout 76 team. “I didn’t cry last night when I was taking a shower,” said one former tester in a QA group chat after leaving the project.
“I pulled into work today, and I sat in my car for a second, and my chest didn’t feel heavy like it normally does,” said another in the chat.
Quality assurance workers are often underappreciated and underpaid. Which has recently led to the formation of two unions, one set that work as contractors for BioWare. And another that works at Raven Software.
what other problems were there?
The report claims that a lack of managerial direction was a big source of problems. Todd Howard was attached by name, but was focused on Starfield. And design director Emil Pagliarulo “didn’t seem to want to be involved with the product at all. He didn’t want to have any contact with it… or read anything that we put in front of him.”
Further problems unsurprisingly came from making an online multiplayer game using the single-player-focused Creation Engine. On top of that, crunch was mandatory. With a current employee reportedly saying that peer pressure was the main motivator for crunch.
ZeniMax (Bethesda’s parent company) director of QA Rob Gray would apparently deny crunch was happening when it was brought up by employees, according to multiple sources.
Concerns over griefing, multiplayer stability, and quest checkpointing were also ignored by senior development. In the end, Bethesda had to take staff away from Starfield and Arkane Studios’ Redfall to assist on Fallout 76. Both of which have now been delayed.
The full report is worth a read, and presents a very troubling report of things at Bethesda. And is unfortunately another case of game development treating its workers poorly.
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Featured Image Credit: Bethesda