Home Gaming Warframe is finding success by avoiding crunch and being open with their fans

Warframe is finding success by avoiding crunch and being open with their fans

2 min read
Warframe (1)1

Warframe should not exist in its current state. Somehow, developer Digital Extremes haven’t just managed to come up with a great game that plays like Destiny if it were designed by Terry Gilliam, they’ve managed to expand on the idea and grow it with several new expansions over the years. Which have all been free. Free.

I have to repeat that point, because in addition to this year’s Empyrean expansion which throws more co-op, proper space battles and even more fashionable frames into the mix, Warframe is still entirely free and somehow still manages to regularly deliver on its promises. It’s like Star Citizen but without the lies and vague deadlines.

So how does Digital Extremes manage to create such a game in an industry that is rife with exploitation and abuse that leads to talented developers being regarded as disposable assets? By focusing on the bigger picture and working in a manner which that defies the crunch culture which is so pervasive in the game development scene today.

“Our perspective is we’re very blessed to have a situation where we only have one immovable date every year, and that’s TennoCon, so we just want to make sure we have something that we can deliver for our fans so we know where we’re going with the game,” Digital Extremes chief operating officer Sheldon Carter said to Eurogamer.

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Every other day other than that is fluid. Warframe is a game that’s been around for seven years and the reason why we’ve been around for so long is that our development team – generally speaking – take the idea that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. If we sprint, it’s not going to work, it’s not even a comment on crunch or the industry, it’s literally for our business model to work, we have to treat it like a marathon. If we did treat it like a sprint, we’d be dead. If we start losing our key developers because it’s too hard to work on this game, we wouldn’t.

That attitude extends towards the Warframe fan community as well, as Digital Extremes has an open policy on internal development and features that are on the horizon for Warframe, as Carter explained:

I think the relationship we have with them allows us to say – “oh sorry, this isn’t going to come”. We have dev streams with them every two weeks where we update them on things, and all the time it’s like “I’m sorry, it’s not going to come right away” – but we’re still going to try to give you new stuff that’s interesting and cool, it just might not be that crazy update you wanted.

There’s more in the original link regarding cross-saves, melee refresh and having an in-game economy that feels absolutely fair to the consumer. Beyond that, it’s safe to say that Warframe still stands proudly as the defacto example of freemium gaming done right.

Last Updated: July 16, 2019


  1. These guys put some of the triple A studios and their $60 games to shame. After 6 years, Warframe is still <3


    • The D

      July 16, 2019 at 17:58

      Every time I want to start this game, I’m heckin’ bamboozled by all the menus and weirdness. I need Kervyn to hold my hand and show me the frame-ropes.


      • Dr Webster Flexington

        July 16, 2019 at 18:22

        I’ll give you the same advice I gave Kerv when he started, just play through the planet missions. I’ll admit, it can get tedious in the beginning, but once you start unlocking the story missions, and open up the solar system, the game really starts to bring the feels.

        Also don’t worry about builds or mods, or the factions, till you’re well past Nepture. By then, everything will start to fall into place, you’ll have recipes for new gear.


        • The D

          July 16, 2019 at 18:56

          Oh sweet Kirby, it’s Destiny all over again.


  2. Original Heretic

    July 16, 2019 at 16:32

    Ugh… I want to hop into this again. But then I look at all the other games I wanna play.
    Not enough time!!


  3. For the Emperor!

    July 16, 2019 at 16:02

    Good and sensible of them. I can already feel the crunch coming where I am at, given that the documentation is 3 months behind and the deadline is immovable…yet we are not even allowed a peak at the draft documents to at least plan things out…


    • Original Heretic

      July 16, 2019 at 16:32


      Sorry, I can’t help it…


    • Guz

      July 16, 2019 at 16:54

      Ruff, good luck


    • Dresden

      July 16, 2019 at 17:06

      Best of luck man!


    • HvR

      July 16, 2019 at 17:06

      Feel your pain. been running a months long crunch now.

      Also unmovable deadlines at least it looks like we are going to make it


  4. Admiral Chief Umbra

    July 17, 2019 at 08:18

    This is the best game currently out there, end to end


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