I feel like the crunch and layoffs should be in a different category. I think it diminish the gravity of the situation when the staff has to compare it with things like "no man sky was kind of boring" or "fallout 76 is broken". I also get that the categories are more for laughs, and even hottest mess have an air of banality to them, so it is more entertaining to talk about the latest Pitchfork debacle than about the soul crushing stories of the lives of people that make the games that we love.
It felt a little weird when the discussion last year was "What was a hottest mess? Telltale closing its doors and leaving hundreds without social security (including people that had just moved in), or Bethesda not delivering vanity items to premium buyers?". So I am proposing crunches, layoffs and other incidents that affect the real life of people outside of gaming to be placed on a special category, be talked about, say something like "and the winner is... no one. Because no one wins in these situations" and rule them out of the hottest mess.