Developers working on the upcoming Diablo 4 have said they have been expected to put in "significant overtime" in order to complete the game.
Speaking to The Washington Post, staff say that there is increasing unhappiness at the studio, Blizzard Albany, and that talent had been leaving for some time. One section of the team lost half of its 20 developers within the last year.
An email sent to the entire team last month said that "some people may put in some extra hours." One worker said that there was no way that the title was going to hit a previous internal release date without developers having to crunch. They add that even with these long hours, it's unlikely they would have hit this milestone.
“Previously, it’s ruined relationships I’ve been in where no one wants to date someone who barely has time for them for months at a time, at least once a year, if not more,” one member of staff said.
“It’s affected my health, it’s affected my relationships, both familiar and romantic. It affects my ability to just enjoy things.”
The Washington Post also says that staff have been motivated to release the game by a certain point with stock incentives, though workers allege this will result in a worse product. One developer said that this incentivised management to cut corners in order to rush the game out to release.
There are also allegations of a chaotic development, with staff often rushing to meet the whims of Diablo 4's directors. That's on top of multiple script rewrites, including one by creative director Sebastian Stępień – a veteran of CD Projekt who worked on The Witcher 3 – which included sexual assault and a character described as "the raped woman".
“Rape has no place in the ‘Diablo’ universe,” an ex-employee said.
“It’s not a thing that we should be tackling because it takes a certain amount of nuance and a deft hand.”
“As you may know, game development in general, and ‘Diablo IV’ specifically, follows an iterative process where the scope evolves over time," a Blizzard spokesperson said.
"Production on the game is going extremely well. Overtime is voluntary and limited to specific teams. We regularly survey the team on their professional well-being, and the latest results are the most positive they’ve been in years.
Commenting on the aforementioned script featuring rape, the spokesperson added: “The story in question was floated more than three years ago under different leadership as character backstory, not game content. At that time, it was deemed inappropriate, and we went in a different direction. We remain confident in the team — they’re building something incredible, and have received a lot of positive feedback from players.”
Blizzard Albany recently became the second Activision Blizzard studio to contain a union. This bargaining block was voted into existence earlier this month, though the Call of Duty giant attempted to have a tallying of ballots blocked.