THQ has defended hands-to-the-pump working hours at Homefront developer Kaos - but admitted that it will try and lessen the 'crunch' currently taking place at the studio when it comes to the game's sequel.
Respected UK industry organ Develop has spoken to an alleged 'exhausted insider' at the New York dev, who told the publication that employees "resent crunch" and suggested they had fears over a lack of fiscal reward for overtime.
However, Kaos studio head David Votypka told the site that the practice - which he admits has produced ten-hour work days - is not "unique or abhorrent".
"Digital media companies, marketers, PR, even accountants in various industries throughout the nation, work 10-hour days regularly, 52 weeks per year," he added.
THQ core games boss Danny Bilson has discussed the issue at length with CVG - suggesting that Kaos's sheer motivation is a key reason for the 'crunch mentality' on Homefront, alongside issues faced during the first 18 months of development.
The FPS - which is looking hugely promising - is due for release in March, and CVG understands it will be submitted for manufacture in late February. According to Bilson, every second between now and then counts - and nobody knows it more than Kaos.
"There is an answer to [crunch], and it's better production pacing from the beginning," Bilson admitted. "In the course of three years on Homefront, in the first 18 months there were a lot of changes and certain dips. Everyone's going to crunch on every game, it's just how long that crunch lasts [that's the issue].
"So we have to reduce the length of crunch. Every developer expects it; they're wise, they know what crunch is, their family knows what crunch is. But minimising the crunch is the issue. When 'quality first' comes into play, it can create more crunch. But honestly, the seeds of the crunch at Kaos were sown 18 months to three years ago. The first 18 months of how it got going and how it didn't get going and certain things, they've known for 18 months that the end was going to be rough.
"Is it rougher than other crunches? No. I've been been in some when I was in product development - and I've certainly watched it happen at other companies. Can you do it every year? No. Can you do it every three years? Maybe. But believe me, as they come out of it, all of the planning for the [Homefront] sequel is to avoid the length of crunch [seen on Homefront 1].
"This hasn't been the worst crunch I've ever seen - you mention Red Dead. That was a rough one. When you talk to the lead designer, he said: 'Boy, everything I kept designing, they just kept making. Nobody said no to anything.' Now, honestly, as a fan, it gave us kind of an impossibly phenomenal piece of software, like, 'Really, they did all that?' That's my game of the year - I adored it.
"So, 'great games first'. Nobody [at Kaos] is complaining, nobody's saying: 'F*ck THQ, they've driven us to this...' They know what their responsibility is, and they know it's their responsibility to manage it as best they can.
"But you know why they're all there [at the studio throughout crunch]? It's because to any game developer worth their salt that I've ever met, making a great game is the most important thing. I think they're on that mission to make the best game they can, and if I said: 'Guys, you got three more weeks - which means three more weeks of crunch' - they'd say: 'Thank you.' Right? Making Homefront great is the most important thing to them."
Check out CVG later this week for updated impressions of Homefront's multiplayer - and new details of unique additions that differentiate it from Black Ops, Battlefield and other competitors.