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Apex Legends Developer Won't Compromise On This Key Issue

Season 7 of Apex Legends is live. While reactions to the new map, Olympus, and the new character, Horizon, have been positive, the new Battle Pass system and slow update timeline have caused an uproar among Apex Legends fans. To answer questions about the state of the game, Respawn Entertainment hosted a Reddit AMA where game director Chris Grenier mentioned that the team's refusal to crunch is the reason for the slow pace of updates.

"Crunch" is a term in the video game industry that describes the long periods of overtime that development teams put into meet demanding release schedules for AAA titles. The practice has been around for decades, and while labor controversies have inspired companies like Rockstar to improve working conditions, it is still a part of the culture of many design studios. The team behind the highly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 went into crunch for months after the game was delayed from its Spring 2020 release date until September, and then again until December.

These sorts of aggressive overtime schedules are not a part of the Apex Legends development process, however. In the AMA, Grenier said, "We also refuse to crunch the team, so we'll probably be slower at making content than if we worked 15 hour days but that's just not something we're willing to do."

Grenier's statement was in response to a heated discussion about the supposed lack of limited-time modes, LTMs, and the fact that Apex Legends' two main competitors, Call of Duty: Warzone and Fortnite, are updated on a faster basis. While Grenier noted that Apex Legends does feature LTMs, although for shorter periods, the Reddit commenter had a point in that the other major battle royale games do pursue a more aggressive update schedule. Both Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone receive new seasons on a monthly or bimonthly basis, whereas Apex Legends seasons run for about three months.

The aggressive release schedules of those titles can take a toll on their staff, however. After Fortnite became the massive hit it is today, developers worked crunch hours for several grueling months. Instead of overextending the staff Respawn Entertainment already has, Grenier explained, they have doubled the team's size since the launch of the game. The goal, he stated, was "to bring you quality content at a healthy pace."

This isn't the first time Respawn Entertainment's progressive attitudes towards developer working conditions have been highlighted. In 2019, a blog post from executive producer Dave McCoy described the company's strategy of balancing a potentially slower update schedule to "avoid crunch that can quickly lead to burnout or worse."