BioMutant (opens in new tab) was announced in 2017 and was supposed to be out in 2019, but that didn't happen—in fact, nothing happened, until 2020 (opens in new tab), when developer Experiment 101 came out of hiding to reassure everyone that work was still ongoing. There was still no sign of a release date, though, until earlier this week when the studio finally committed itself to launching in May (opens in new tab).
The extended silence was a bit strange, but studio boss Stefan Ljungqvist told IGN (opens in new tab) that it was for a good reason: There were a lot of bugs to fix, and the studio was determined to avoid crunch while doing it.
"It’s been a huge amount of work for QA, because it's not easy in an open-world game to find [bugs]," he said. "And then once they've been found, we have to fix them, and that's put some additional challenge on us, being a small team."
Ljungqvist was creative director at Avalanche Studios prior to founding Experiment 101, and said his past experiences in the game industry left him "burned out," but also more cognizant of the negative effects of constant overwork. "I mean, the studio, we are 20 people and we can't afford to have [staff] leave the studio, or be destroyed during development. That would be devastating," he said.
"For certain pushes, you might do it in a limited form. But the most important thing is you get paid, which is not common in our industry, crazily enough. And also you get ‘recap time’, because you have to have rest. If you're just doing this constantly for 12-14 hours a day, you will eventually have to pay for it."
He credited publisher THQ Nordic for not pushing the studio to hit an earlier release date, and although he acknowledged that members of the team might have to work more hours to support the game after release, crunching at the studio is "not the constant thing," he said. "It will kill you."
Interestingly, Ljungqvist also emphasized that the long delay was not so Experiment 101 could work on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions of BioMutant. "When we developed the game, we lead on the last-gen. And if you look at it from a development perspective, that's really important because it's easier to scale up than to scale down," he said.
Besides which, "there is a high-end version of Biomutant already made for PC," he said. "The game already in some form exists in what you would expect on the current-gen platforms."
BioMutant is scheduled to come out on May 25.