It’s something you’ll see rearing it’s ugly head in our industry time and again – staff being pushed to their limits to complete a game in time for a launch date. The simple term for it is the ‘crunch’ period of game development. Nintendo won’t have any of that and it’s the main reason Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been delayed o the Switch to 2020.
In a discussion with IGN, Doug Bowser (Nintendo US President) confirmed that the delay came about as they did not want their employees to be put under immense strain just to get the game out on time. It’s really commendable, especially in a climate where developers get no second thought from the big corporate decision makers. Here is what he had to say:
The crunch point is an interesting one. For us, one of our key tenants is that we bring smiles to people’s faces, and we talk about that all the time. It’s our vision. Or our mission, I should say. For us, that applies to our own employees. We need to make sure that our employees have good work-life balance.
One of those examples is, we will not bring a game to market before it’s ready. We just talked about one example [in Animal Crossing’s delay]. It’s really important that we have that balance in our world. It’s actually something we’re proud of.
And rightfully he should be proud of that stance. It’s just proof that they give a damn about their staff members and will very likely reap the benefits of doing that. Recently they also delayed Metroid Prime 4 as they weren’t happy with the progress it was making. In that particular case, it was more about the quality of the product.
It’s just good to see that there is still a company out there that places a focus on the quality of its games and the health of its staff members. Also, in a game like Animal Crossing where it’s all about a work-life balance, it would have been ironic if developers crunched to make a launch date. Good on you, Nintendo.