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Off TopicJun 13, 2019 4:00 pm CT

Off-Topic: Animal Crossing: New Horizons won’t come out this year because Nintendo cares about its employees

Animal Crossing: New Horizons won’t make it to your Nintendo Switch this year because Nintendo cares about the health of its employees, according to IGN.

The game — which was announced during E3 last year — was originally set to release this year, but was delayed until March 20, 2020. Nintendo of America’s new president Doug Bowser told IGN that the game was held back to ensure its developers wouldn’t have to deal with an intense crunch period of development.

“We need to make sure that our employees have good work-life balance,” Bowser said.

This sentiment about the working conditions at the company line up with what former president Reggie Fils-Aimé told Waypoint last year. Fils-Aimé explained that the company hires contract employees to help avoid crunch and that overall its not the company’s approach to game development.

Nintendo’s statement acknowledges a growing interest in the working conditions of game developers and the human cost of crunch. Developers of games like Fortnite, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Mortal Kombat 9 have spoken about the terrible crunch periods they’ve endured in hopes to enact change in the industry. It’s a topic that has largely gone unnoticed or is accepted as part of the job in the past.

Game Workers Unite is an organization that’s attempting to help developers fight back against unfair working conditions by creating unions. It recently attended a walkout at League of Legends deveoper Riot Games’ Los Angeles officers, where employees protested their toxic workplace standards and the company’s stance on forced arbitration.

As many game developers gather at this year’s E3, it’s a topic that’s worth considering as you see each high-cost, massive game get announced. The beautiful open worlds, powerful loot, complex systems, and powerful hardware don’t come from nowhere — there are people making those games and they should be cared for.

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