‘Soft-Spoken Blackmail’: Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Devs Reportedly Forced to Crunch

Developers of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga can now see light at the end of the tunnel due to the game’s new release date, but a new report sheds light on how developers dealt with extensive crunch at TT Games to get the game out the door.

A new report from Polygon details the issues within TT Games, sharing the accounts of over 30 current and former employees, many of whom say calls for change within the studio have been mostly ignored.

“It was a very soft-spoken blackmail,” one former employee told Polygon, saying the vibe was that “‘If people don’t start doing overtime, there’s going to be problems’”.

The report says developers were promised a longer development timeline and a new engine. However, employees told Polygon the extended development did not reduce the crunch, and that there were issues with the new NTT engine. This led to an employee effort to use Unreal Engine, but management stuck with NTT to save on licensing costs. Employees say that decision essentially negated the benefits from extended development time.

However, the report says the history of crunch goes back long before development on The Skywalker Saga began in 2017, with some employees saying the company’s decision to release a new Lego game each year led to a sustained culture of crunch.

Former TT employees also shared how TT Games co-founder and creative director Jon Burton would yell at staff to return to their desks when trying to leave work on time. Burton stopped running the day-to-day operations at the studio in 2013, but the crunch didn’t stop there. Employees also shared details of the studio’s gender pay gap and say two TT studios were hostile work environments for women.

You can read all of the details in the full report.

The Skywalker Saga is the largest LEGO game TT Games has developed. Serving as an adaptation of all nine mainline Star Wars films, from The Phantom Menace all the way through The Rise of Skywalker, it’s the most content the studio has ever adapted for a single game. Beyond that, TT Games appears to be shaking up its well-established LEGO game formula, but now we’re learning this ambition came at a cost for the developers.

Publicly, it was already apparent that The Skywalker Saga was going through some development issues. Prior to today’s release date announcement, the game was already delayed multiple times. It was first supposed to launch October 2020, before getting pushed to Spring 2021, until one final delay pushed it to this year.

Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN. You can find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.

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