According to an expose published by Polygon, the work expectations at Epic Games are causing employees massive amounts of stress as they work long hours.
The game industry has a crunch problem. “Crunch” is the term given to a group of employees who need to work long hours in order to finish a task.
In video game development, crunch is usually common in the month leading up the release of a game.
But in the Epic Games’ studios in Cary, North Carolina, Crunch has become a common occurrence.
Polygon is a leading site in games journalism and they talked with various former and current Epic employees about the work culture at the studio.
Here are some of the choice quotes from the article:
“I work an average 70 hours a week,” said one employee. “There’s probably at least 50 or even 100 other people at Epic working those hours. I know people who pull 100-hour weeks. The company gives us unlimited time off, but it’s almost impossible to take the time. If I take time off, the workload falls on other people, and no one wants to be that guy.
“The executives keep reacting and changing things,” said the source. “Everything has to be done immediately. We’re not allowed to spend time on anything. If something breaks — a weapon, say — then we can’t just turn it off and fix it with the next patch. It has to be fixed immediately, and all the while, we’re still working on next week’s patch. It’s brutal.”
And the punishment for not working the supposedly optional hours was swift:
“I know some people who just refused to work weekends, and then we missed a deadline because their part of the package wasn’t completed, and they were fired,” said another source. “People are losing their jobs because they don’t want to work these hours.”
With all the money Epic was making, some of that went back to the producers which helped them endure, but there’s only so many back-t-to-back weeks people can work:
“It is a hard, grindy, crunchy life,” said one source. “Everyone understands. You are being paid more money than most people will ever make in their careers anywhere else. Your time is bought and accounted for; shut up, keep your head down, and do the work.
Those weekly patches that keep Fortnite fresh put an absurd amount of pressure on developers. How do you think the community would react if they came out every two weeks instead?
“As Fortnite Battle Royale became popular, it changed to having to get a feature done, with hardly any notice, and then having people stay until that feature was ready. So we went from having a month to prepare, to sometimes having as little as a day. A lot of it was mandatory staying at work with no notice until the job was done. Marketing had made a promise, and so we were told that it had to be done.”
There are tons more interesting points made in the article so check it out if this is interesting to you. They also cover responses from Epic spokespeople to bring the other side of the story.