In a frank post on Reddit (opens in new tab), Grinding Gear Games co-founder Chris Wilson wrote about the Path of Exile (opens in new tab) studio's workload, the disappointing Synthesis league and how he won't make the team crunch just to cram more improvements and fixes into a patch.
"Some studios make their teams work 14 hour days to pack every patch full of the most fixes and improvements possible. Sometimes when we read our own Patch Notes threads and community feedback, we feel that we are being asked to do the same. I will not run this company that way."
Wilson acknowledged that some optional paid overtime is necessary near league updates, but that the majority of the development cycle leaves the team with a "great work/life balance". The result, he explained, was that some improvements take longer to be made.
The topic of crunch was raised not just because it's something that's being discussed more openly by various studios and individual game workers; Grinding Gear Games also has a pretty full plate and an intimidating schedule.
The Synthesis update ended up being more work than the team anticipated and wasn't up to the studio's usual standards. Improvements have been made since launch, but Wilson's decided not to merge it into the core game in the next update, which will be revealed in three weeks.
3.7.0 will introduce a new league with a focus on "repeatable fun", apparently, as well as revamped melee combat. That's what the team's focusing on at the moment, aiming to get the fundamental stuff nailed down as early as possible in the development cycle. Then there's the 4.0.0 mega-expansion, which is taking up a lot of Grinding Gear's time. It's a critical update, explains Wilson.
On top of the future updates, there's the ExileCon convention due later this year, which will be used to properly announced 4.0.0, and then the game's launch in Korea.
"All of these areas, from 3.7.0 through to the eventual release of 4.0.0, are going to make massive and lasting fundamental improvements to Path of Exile," Wilson added. But not at the cost of the team's health.
While players have been critical of Synthesis, the response on Reddit to Wilson's post has been overwhelmingly supportive.