The anonymous sources cited by the publication seem to believe crunch is relatively limited to the final stretch of game development, though it can vary depending on the employee's particular job. Here's what four sources had to say on the subject:
- The general industry in Japan is not that crazy compared to my experience in other fields. Japan has a lot of holidays. There is a rule that FromSoftware staff shouldn't stay later than 10 PM, and 90% of the time, staff won't stay later than 9 PM.
- There hasn't been much overtime work for me.
- During critical periods of game releases, I often had to work early mornings and overtime for two to three months.
- It's not as if crunch happens on a daily basis. It's more common during the ROM check for the publisher or two to three months before release.
While crunch may not be a huge issue at FromSoftware, employees clearly expressed their dissatisfaction regarding salaries. To begin with, the average yearly salary appears to be around $25K, while salaries at Atlus (another fellow Tokyo-based game developer and publisher) are reportedly around $38K on average. Additionally, overtime is said to be included with the regular stipend, except for overtime past midnight; even that is said to be worth only half of the regular hourly rate for some reason.
It is unclear why retribution is so low at FromSoftware, given that the company has been doing exceedingly well. Elden Ring recently passed 17.5 million copies sold, making it by far the fastest-selling game the studio has ever produced. FromSoftware also received substantial investments from Sony and Tencent a couple of months ago, with PlayStation Studios boss Hermen Hulst teasing an extended collaboration with the studio on games and even transmedia opportunities.
The low retribution is even more of a problem for employees due to Tokyo's notoriously expensive cost of living and housing. The studio did not respond to GamesIndustry.biz's request for comment, but hopefully, they will be driven to improve salaries across the board.