Update: Neocore Games has issued a statement clarifying that the remark about working 90+ hours per week was meant to be a joke. "It sounded ironic in Hungarian," a rep said.
"I would like to make it clear that we don’t force people to work 90 hours a week of course, even the three producers/owners don’t do it, although they have the longest working days. We at Neocore Games all consider Inquisitor as our own love project and it’s true that we’re working hard on it in this final rush but we gladly make those sacrifices for a great result. I kindly ask everyone not to judge the company and the game on one unfortunate statement. Thank you and really sorry for the misunderstanding."
The delay announcement has been edited and now says, "With the three extra weeks, we’ll now have the time to do this."
Interestingly, the studio made a similar statement in March when it announced that, because of the looming launch date, there would be no more live Steam updates.
"We do not want to risk building public releases as although we have enough time to finish the game until the deadline, but we do not have the time to pour resources in preparing Steam builds that will become outdated by the second they are released," producer Zoltán Pozsonyi wrote. "Of course, we still have tons of work to do, and many of us are already pulling 80+ hour weeks, as it usually goes during crunch time."
Pozsonyi is the person responsible for the message about working 90+ hours per week, and the rep said the March announcement was meant with "the same irony."
"Neocore Games never forces people to take such long working weeks," the rep explained. "It's true that people are working hard but most of us have worked here for 5-12 years, so we feel really involved in every project and every success."
"It’s true that a few people have really long days during certain periods and they work on weekends many times, but since they are the owners they have to keep many things in their hands. And I think it’s a different thing when you're talking about your own company and the work that comes with it."
The lengthily-titled action-RPG Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor-Martyr was intended to be out on May 11, but was delayed today until June 5. It's not a huge delay, nor is it—with all due respect to developer Neocore Games—a huge disappointment for millions of long-suffering fans. But it has nonetheless attracted a lot of attention for an offhand remark by producer Zoltán Pozsonyi, who apologized for the extra wait and committed the studio to a stretch of crunch to get it done on time.
"Again, sorry for this as we kindly ask for your further patience and hopefully it won’t be a deal breaker for any of you," Pozsonyi wrote. "In return, we promise we’ll push this extra three weeks in 90+ hours per week so it’ll be very-very useful for Martyr."
Doing the math, that's more than 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for the better part of a month, a vicious stretch of work that drew a very strong negative reaction from fans and other developers.
90 hour work weeks are truly unproductive and dumb. the WH40K inquisitor team should not be subjected to them.April 19, 2018
Dear @NeocoreGames People are not cogs, and even cogs work better when load balanced and maintained. If you're not budgeting 16 additional hours of QA and bug fixing for each hour of this spontaneous crunch, you're rolling the dice in favor of a lower quality release.April 19, 2018
Hey, maybe don't send your team into hell crunch as some sort of public penance for a missed deadline, huh? No one wins if you do. Take the time you need, ship a game you're proud of and don't destroy yourselves.April 19, 2018
Hello, please delay the game to next year and let your devs sleep.Thanks.April 19, 2018
The replies to the announcement tweet include more criticism (a lot more), but you get the idea.
I'm not entirely convinced that the comment was serious. For one thing, the delay happened not because of any devastating surprise bug, but because Neocore didn't get the release candidate for one of the console versions to manufacturing on time. It wants a simultaneous release on all platforms, so postponing one means postponing them all. Pozsonyi also made a little joke about it in the announcement.
"Now that we’ve messed up the big date of the original announcement anyway, we decided to still do one big Beta build update for Steam," he wrote. "With the three extra weeks, we’ll now have the time to do this and trust me, all the harsh criticism, I mean the extra feedback, will help us immensely to balance and fine-tune the game."
But even if he was joking, the reaction among developers reflects a real problem in the industry. Occasional overtime is a fact of life but pervasive, punishing crunch—like pulling 90-hour weeks—is both unhealthy and, as the IGDA explains (opens in new tab), wholly unproductive. Yet it continues to happen, and often there's often not a lot that individual developers can do about it (opens in new tab).
I've reached out to Neocore for clarification about the message, and will update if I receive a reply. In the meantime, here's a suitably grimdark trailer (opens in new tab) setting up Inquisitor – Martyr's single-player campaign aboard a "battered fortress monastery" that was abandoned eons ago—but probably isn't empty.
Thanks, RPS (opens in new tab).