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Why do game developers crunch? The market demands it.

With all the bad press surrounding mandatory crunch lately, it’s easy to wonder - why in the world do developers keep doing it when it’s such an obviously-bad idea and it makes people hate you?

Because when they don’t, the market punishes them. Hard.

At E3, Nintendo announced that the upcoming Animal Crossing: New Horizons is delayed to March 20, 2020 to “ensure the game is the best it can be”.

This is in line with Nintendo’s philosophy - Shigeru Miyamoto has famously said that “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.” (Or words to that effect. Maybe.).

Furthermore, the delay is specifically to avoid crunch and to take good care of Nintendo employees. This is very much the Right Thing to Do.

So naturally, after this announcement Nintendo shared closed 3.53% lower than the previous day, taking more than a billion dollars off their stock market value.

The short-termism the market demands is devastating. Nintendo is one of the oldest and most established developers with plenty of IPs and revenue streams. They can afford to stick to the long view and weather the market’s tantrums in the meantime. Smaller developers without that luxury? It’s no surprise they turn to crunch.