An extensive report on Fallout 76’s development claims that the game’s disastrous launch led to hours of mandatory crunch, which was further exacerbated by poor management.
The report comes from Kotaku, which spoke to 10 former Bethesda employees for the purpose of the rather extensive article. The anonymous workers shared a range of stories that alleged mental and physical exhaustion, unnecessary overtime, and a lack of coherent direction all providing context for the game’s mixed reception at launch.
According to the report, 60-hour work weeks in the lead-up to the game’s launch were frequent, with testers being coerced into partaking in additional weekend shifts to work on the game’s downloadable content (DLC). One source claimed, “I remember seeing one of my co-workers stand up, look at the person who was in charge that day, and scream across the room: ‘Why are we here? We gave up our day for this. The build isn’t the build we need. This is useless. This is a waste of our time. Like why are we here?’”
QA testers were awarded perks for doing overtime, but the work was so exhausting that it didn’t seem worth it. “It’s like, yeah, it’s more money. But at what cost?”, one source stated. Several former ZeniMax employees told Kotaku that “no amount of financial incentive could erase the physical and mental exhaustion they experienced from the continual onslaught of non-stop, obligatory overtime.”
The stress of the game’s development and the work needed to fix it up post-launch allegedly led to the QA department bleeding staff numbers. This led to developers from games such as Redfall and Starfield being drafted onto the project, which subsequently had a negative effect on those games.
A general lack of interest in the game’s direction from its developers didn’t help matters. One source told Kotaku that team members joined Bethesda’s Rockville studio “because they were fans of the studio’s single-player games, but now they were working in a genre they had little interest in.” Two sources added that numerous developers who had worked on Fallout 4 “resented being assigned to make a live-service game.”
Bethesda is yet to comment on the report.