How Fortnite Developer Epic Games Angered Its Employees

Epic Games
Epic Games

 

Epic Games Inc. is ending the pandemic’s proclaimed weekend policy every second Friday, sparking an outcry among employees the internal Slack channel was filled with calls from employees to the game’s publisher. Several people said the extra vacation days helped their mental health, made them better parents, and even increased their productivity while working on updates for Fortnite, one of the most popular games in the world.

Epic stated that this policy was always meant to be temporary and that the company’s goal was to allow employees and contractors to take paid leave on their own schedule. The company also closes for two-week breaks in summer and winter.

“Right now, we have a lot of Friday weekends for serious work, and a lot of people who have to work on Fridays anyway,” COO Daniel Vogel wrote in an email to employees reviewed by Bloomberg. “This meant that many people did not benefit equally from these policies.”

But in a survey of 581 employees reviewed by Bloomberg, 93% said they found alternating weekends on Fridays “extremely rewarding,” and 61% said they felt anxious, guilty, or stressed when taking individual weekends. Nearly 90% of employees said they want no days off on Fridays.

Shrinking work weeks has become a pressing issue in many industries as the pandemic is leading to a widespread rethinking of how offices function. Some companies are already being forced to streamline teleworking policies in an industry that has long held collaborative work meetings as inviolable. Research has shown that workers can feel more rested but just as productive by working 32 hours a week rather than the standard 40 hours.

The video game industry, known for its long hours of work and tight schedules, has begun to flirt with shorter weeks. Eidos Montreal, a division of Square Enix Holdings Co., and the developer of a new game based on Guardians of the Galaxy recently announced that it is moving to a four-day workweek. Several independent game studios have also made the transition, such as Young Horses, the company behind last year’s Bugsnax game.

One Epic employee wrote on Slack that they became parents during the pandemic and that guaranteed weekends every two weeks were “a game-changer,” giving them a guilt-free day for doctor visits and other activities in the past. two years.

“Epic is the best studio I’ve ever worked for,” wrote another employee. “But I just don’t understand this decision.”

A staff member wrote that, unlike some other game studios that had to postpone games during the pandemic, Epic continually released new Fortnite updates every two weeks. “The perceived benefit simply cannot match the actual evidence of what we have achieved so far in the past 18 months, which is more than anyone else in the industry could ever hope to achieve — all with alternating weekend Fridays.”