An investigation into working conditions at From Software suggests lower than average pay and some crunch but surprisingly happy developers.
The question of whether developers are forced to take part in the ‘crunch’ to finish games, that are close to their release date, has been a hot issue for the last few years in the West, with many studios expecting their employees to work unpaid overtime for sometimes months at a time.
While it’s wrong to say the tradition has completely faded away it is now frowned upon, but it’s never been clear how much of a problem it is in Japan, especially after comments at a Glassdoor equivalent suggested that Elden Ring developer FromSoftware was making substantial use of the practice.
A new investigation suggests that the crunch is still used but it paints a complex picture of the company, where staff are worked hard and yet the majority seem relatively happy to work there, despite below average wages.
Supposedly FromSoftware dictates that staff should never stay later than 10pm, with developers apparently never staying later than 9pm ‘90% of the time.’
Crunch does still exist, but apparently depends on the department, with the most extreme examples being one developer who had to work early mornings and overtime ‘for two to three months.’
According to reports by GamesIndustry.biz, in most cases overtime is ‘included in the salary’ with anything after midnight paid half the usual hourly rate. That’s not a Japanese thing though and is apparently unique to From.
In fact, FromSoftware is described as having a below average rate of pay, with an average yearly salary of ¥3.41 million (around £20.5K). This is notably less than the ¥5.2 million (around £31.3K) earned by the comparably sized Atlus and deemed inadequate for living in the notoriously expensive Tokyo.
As bad as that sounds, though, the general mood at FromSoftware seems to be largely positive, with many developers apparently appreciating the opportunity to work on such well-received games.
‘There’s a lot of struggle to get things right, but if you get over the hump it is very satisfying. It’s just like you defeated a boss in Dark Souls,’ said one developer.
‘It’s been a great experience,’ said another. ‘Not only because you can work on an AAA title, but also because you can work with co-workers that are so talented and passionate about creating a video game.’
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