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LEGO Star Wars Skywalker Saga Employees Saw Lengthy Crunch Periods

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga finally has a release date, but a new report details how the game has led to a lot of crunch at TT Games. A new report from Polygon has detailed extensive crunch that has occurred over the development of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.

The report spoke with more than 20 former and current employees at TT Games, where they spoke about how their requests for change were largely ignored. “It was a very soft-spoken blackmail,” a former employee told Polygon. “If people don’t start doing overtime, there’s going to be problems.” The problems were not specified.

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Because The Skywalker Saga was adapting the nine main films, management had promised employees more development time. And they also promised a new engine to work in. According to employees, this didn’t affect much. Management reportedly ignored warnings from staff over switching to the new engine they were developing internally, NTT. And the longer development time did little to avoid crunch. 

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Staff also say that Jon Burton, co-founder and creative director at TT Games, would frequently yell at employees who tried to leave work on time. Other staff also claim that leads would follow them out of the studio to question why they were leaving early.

“crunch was premeditated”

“A big problem was that crunch was premeditated,” a former employee that worked under Burton said. “It wasn’t an emergency protocol for when things went wrong. Instead, it was a tool in the box for production; projects were planned with crunch periods in the schedule, or even worse, crunch was the schedule. […] It was a regular occurrence because of the type of games we made: movie tie-ins, and kids’ stocking fillers. They all had deadlines dictated by a holiday event or the release of some film.”

Credit: WB Games

Half a dozen employees told Polygon that working 80-100 hours, six days a week was not uncommon while crunching. Contractors were also encouraged to work overtime, in an effort to prove themselves for full-time roles.

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Multiple former QA testers for TT Fusion also claimed that working conditions were some of the worst they had experienced in industry. Some sources said that two TT studios were hostile environments for women. This included bullying, comments about their appearance, and withheld promotions and contracts.

As time moves on, more and more reports are coming out about studios mismanaging their staff, leading to widespread industry burnout. This report is of course upsetting, but unsurprising given what we’ve heard about many other high profile studios. With more reporting coming out on these situations, hopefully more studios will push towards better work conditions.

Featured Image Credit: WB Games

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