Starfield developer Bethesda no longer has a "crunch culture", according to the head of Xbox Games Studios.
As revealed in a story by Kotaku, Xbox held a company-wide meeting last week where the head of Xbox Games Studios Matt Booty addressed Bethesda’s history with crunch. During the meeting, Booty said he was "confident" that the studio was no longer crunching during development and said that it was "unfair" to say Bethesda is the only studio to take part in it.
Booty also made reference to Kotaku’s previous article about crunch during Fallout 76’s development where it was revealed by 10 former employees of Bethesda (and its parent company Zenimax Media) that staff were peer pressured into performing overtime. "The challenge with a lot of these articles is that they look backwards, sometimes pretty far back in time," the Xbox head said.
Talking more about the past conditions, Booty said: "It was just part of the industry. I don’t say that to justify it, I’m just saying it was part of the culture of the industry. I literally slept under my desk early in my career. And we looked at that like a badge of honor." Bethesda - and the rest of Zenimax Media - was acquired by Microsoft in 2021 so it was thought that working conditions might change.
Booty has claimed that crunch is no longer affecting the developers at Bethesda, who are currently working on the likes of Starfield, The Elder Scrolls 6, Fallout 5, and more. "I know from talking to Bethesda leadership that we do not have a situation where people are crunching and we’ve got this bullying atmosphere…I’m confident about that," Booty assured others in the meeting. It's worth noting, however, that Kotaku's report mentions developers who were disappointed with Booty's suggestion that staff report excess work to HR at Bethesda, noting similar comments made at Activision-Blizzard, which is currently undergoing its own difficulties.
If you’re curious to know what the rest of Xbox’s studios are up to, take a look at our upcoming Xbox Series X games list.