Hitman Studio CEO Speaks About Crunch Culture, Where Overtime Belongs in the Industry – IGN Unfiltered


In the newest episode of IGN Unfiltered, Ryan McCaffrey sat down with IO Interactive co-owner and CEO Hakan Abrak to discuss crunch, the team’s upcoming James Bond game, the future of Hitman, separating from Square Enix, and more.When asked what he thought about crunch, Abrak said, “I took over as executive producer on [Kayne and Lynch] just two years before it was launched, and at that point the technology was just barely done. It was nowhere. Although it had been on the way for five years, it didn’t really have any core features in place yet. That production was absolutely… it was crazy.“For me, personally, I ran people really hard. I was really hard, we crunched a lot. I remember, personally… myself… in two years, I had two weekends where I was off both days, or else I would have worked every day, two years straight, no vacation.

“I learned a ton from that. After that, I went on to do R&D [research and development] and I went on to be studio production director. When I turned to be the studio production director, I could actually affect things on how my production’s run…

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“So, I did learn a lot from that. I did learn it’s not only destroying souls, but it’s also not an effective way of developing games. Today, I’m not saying we’re not doing ‘overwork.’ We do, at times. But it’s something that needs to be felt… like, a good clear purpose… from within the team, and it needs to be on a shorter period than these long crunch periods.”Abrak also said the team is using several tools to evaluate the studio’s work/life balance. “The feedback we’re getting is very positive, and it seems like we’ve found a really, really good balance there. And we had to, because, after Absolution, when we changed mentality and culture around doing a marathon… doing a game that is more of a marathon than just a sprint.

“Going from ‘boxed product’ thinking to ‘a service,’ it absolutely affects everything. It affects how you work, and you can’t just say ‘Oh, it’s just another few months and then it’s out, and then we don’t have to think about it, and the whole studio can go home for half a year,’ or something. That doesn’t go when… you run a marathon… It’s about keeping that energy and their front lobes fresh.“Of course, also very important… as we get older and wiser… not to make people estranged from their loved ones and families at home. These things are extremely important. I think it’s also part of the Scandinavian mentality and… as I talked about… other studio’s locations, under IO, in the future… that culture, that thinking, those values, with humans front and center, is something that we’ll spread and carry on.”

For more interviews with the best, brightest, most fascinating minds in the games industry, check out be sure to check out every episode of IGN Unfiltered, which includes talks with Bethesda’s Todd Howard, Master Chief co-creator Marcus Lehto, 343’s Bonnie Ross, Valve’s Robin Walker & Chris Remo, and so many more.

Brian Barnett writes wiki guides, deals posts, features, and much more for IGN. You can get your fix of Brian’s antics on Twitter and Instagram (@Ribnax).





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