Matt Booty, head of Xbox Game Studios, addressed concerns about labor conditions at Bethesda Softworks and its parent company ZeniMax Media during a recent all-hands meeting. Created because of growing employee worries about studio crunch culture, Booty headed the conversation and stated he was "confident" that there was no such thing happening in Bethesda or ZeniMax, which doesn't look that great when allegations from QA testers on Fallout 76 told differently.
Booty's comments on the subject were sparked by a Kotaku report earlier this month that thoroughly documented crunch working conditions at Bethesda and ZeniMax during the development of Fallout 76, to which Booty said Xbox takes crunch reports "seriously."
He describes how the report goes "pretty far back in time," despite the focus clearly being Fallout 76 in 2018, and doesn't clarify any of the points made for the title's workers and their alleged conditions. Booty says that he "knows from talking to Bethesda leadership that [they] do not have a situation where people are crunching," a report which could also be the result of bad supervisors putting up a front of excellent working conditions when, in truth, it could be abysmal and people are stretched far too thin.
Booty acknowledged this possibilty though saying that crunch culture could happen without him knowing, but I don't believe trusting Xbox's internal processes remedies the situation like Booty suggested workers do if overworked. There have been alleged reports from devs in these post-acquisition studios like Bethesda and Undead Labs that say Xbox has been "hands-off" and doesn't make sweeping changes for new studios. If the reports are true, going to the Xbox HR department may only lead to a short listen, feedback, and written notes that might never get the ball rolling for developers.
What's your opinion on the whole situation? Let us know below!
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About the Author
Anthony Jones is a gaming journalist and late 90s kid in love with retro games and the evolution of modern gaming. He started at Mega Visions as a news reporter covering the latest announcements, rumors, and fan-made projects. FFXIV has his heart in the MMORPGs scene, but he's always excited to analyze and lose hours to ambitious and ambiguous MMOs that gamers follow.
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