The director for the new Witcher game has vowed that there will be no crunch time nor poor treatment of developers under his watch.
Shortly after the new Witcher project’s announcement on March 21st, director Jason Slama took to Twitter to proudly boast of his involvement with the game, exclaiming to his followers, “I am super thrilled to announce that I have humbly been working to ensure the success of the next big AAA The Witcher game as its Game Director!”
“Think you could join the team?” Slama then inquired. “We have tons of roles open with the possibility of remote work we could discuss!”
However, Twitter user @octolingtime met Slama’s call to arms with doubt, tweeting, “You forgot to mention the sign on bonus of horrible crunch and being treated like a dog.”
In reply to this vocal critic, Slama vowed, “Never on my watch!”, drawing a mixed reaction of doubt and support – if only in praise of the guts he had to respond – from other users.
Slama also made the announcement of his involvement with the new Witcher title via his LinkedIn profile.
He previously acted as a general programmer for Assassin’s Creed III under Ubisoft Quebec, along with several mobile and handheld console games such as “My Quit Smoking Coach,” and the PSP port of Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands.
Eventually making the leap to CD Projekt Red in 2014, Slama later worked on The Witcher 3 as a senior UI programmer, and later still the lead programmer for Gwent. It was during his work on Gwent he became the Director of Live Operations and Game Director for the game.
In 2020 and 2021, Bloomberg reported that a number of anonymous current and former CD Projekt Red employees had accused the studio of forcing crunch and enabling poor working conditions during the development of Cyberpunk 2077.
This allegedly included instances of six day work weeks, development being hindered by “poor planning and technical shortcomings,” leaders only speaking Polish in staff meetings despite some staff only speaking English, and the studio “faking” the game’s 2018 E3 demo.
CD Projekt Red SVP of business development Michał Nowakowski alluded to the 2020 allegations in a conference call with investors, stating, “We’re not really making any comments to what somebody else has stated about what’s going on in the studio outside.”
A 2021 “Strategy Update” from CD Projekt Group later assured investors that the studio was working to minimize stress and burnout via various measures, including well-being workshops, staff-elected representatives speaking for their teams, and nurturing inclusivity and diversity efforts.
In late February, former CD Projekt executive and director of both Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3 Konrad Tomaszkiewicz announced that he had formed his own studio, Rebel Wolves.
Consisting of other former CD Projekt developers who had worked on such titles as Cyberpunk 2077, The Witcher 3, Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales, and Shadow Warrior 2, the new team’s first project will be a dark fantasy RPG.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Tomaszkiewicz stated the studio had the philosophy of the team coming first, a place where “experienced game developers can reignite their passion.”
Do you think CD Projekt Red will avoid crunch time and poor working conditions on this new Witcher title? Let us know on social media and in the comments below.