According to the Polygon report, over 20 current and former TT Games employees have described the tight development schedules and stressful amounts of workload, with some remembering breaking down outside of work hours.
Throughout the development of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga – which began in 2017 and has been delayed several times – staff were reportedly pressured into crunch, with one former employee saying, “It was very soft-spoken blackmail. If people don’t start doing overtime, there’s going to be problems.”
Elsewhere six former employees who worked under Jon Burton, co-founder and creative director at TT Games, said that he would yell at staff to return to their desks when work hours were over and would regularly expect employees to put in extra hours. The staffers told Polygon that it was not uncommon to work 80-100 hours, six days a week while crunching.
“A big problem was that crunch was premeditated,” said one former employee. “It wasn’t an emergency protocol for when things went wrong. Instead, it was a tool in the box for production; projects were planned with crunch periods in the schedule, or even worse, crunch was the schedule.”
TT Games’ pay gap for women was also reported, while frequent adding and removing features meant hours of work was thrown out, and 40 staff were reported to have left the studio in the past 12 months.
Sources also said that staff were pushing hard for TT Games to switch to the Unreal Engine since the NTT internal engine they were using was much-hated, with some employees saying it was unstable and missing features and often would lose chunks of work. However, management decided to continue developing the project on NTT in an attempt to avoid paying engine licensing costs.
Following meetings about the game’s development, staff were offered more holidays and a higher percentage of a bonus at the end of the year.
In a statement following the report, a spokesperson for the studio said, “TT Games is committed to creating a respectful, fair and inclusive workplace for every employee. There have been many efforts in recent years, with new studio leadership and the support of Warner Bros. Games, to nurture a collaborative culture and work-life balance our employees can be proud of.
“Our legacy of delighting fans with the games we have created over the years is very important to us. We recognise our continued and future success relies on sustaining the momentum of the positive changes we have made to date, ensuring every employee feels supported, appreciated and experiences a true sense of belonging.”
This report follows the release date announcement of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.