Naughty Dog has a new goal to 'eliminate crunch' after the production of The Last of Us Part 2

Character lying down on a bed
(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

The developers of The Last of Us Part 2, Naughty Dog, reveal what it's like to work with 'crunch' and how the team is hopefully heading towards a future that doesn't include it. 

'Crunch' refers to the idea of encouraging workers to spend extra time and work long and hard hours to meet unrealistic deadlines. It's a prevalent issue in the games industry as many bigger developers and publishers are putting more and more pressure on developers. A new documentary following the production of The Last of Us Part 2 touches upon the issue and how it affected the team. 

"I'm realizing that I can't crunch like I used to," game designer Emilia Schatz said. "I can't put everything I have into these games as much as I was able to when I first got here."

However, the documentary also touches upon how the reality of crunch is that it's unavoidable in some instances. Co-director Anthony Newman even goes as far as to claim that better organization and improved processes "doesn't fix crunch" but instead "allows you to make a bigger game."

Even with this being said, Naughty Dog still wants to try to cut crunch out. "When we onboard people, we tell them that we have a reputation as a studio for crunching, and it's something that we don’t want. And it's something we're not going to do anymore," quality assurance lead Patrick Goss said. 

This process will include cutting out activities, which can encourage crunch. For example, Naughty Dog is known for providing "crunch dinners" and free evening meals that may have been introduced to accommodate people who work late but instead encourage developers to stay later than they should. Hopefully, removing these, sending out regular questionnaires, and enabling hybrid working conditions, will go a long way to improving the work life of many of those over at Naughty Dog. 

For more fantastic games like The Last of Us Part 2 check out the best zombie games as well as the best story games which are available to play right now.

Elie Gould
Features Writer

Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications. 

Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased.