Weekly updates and mass popularity has led to harsh working conditions at Epic Games.
Staff at Epic Games are working in a state of constant crunch in order to maintain Fortnite and its games-as-a-service structure, according to a new report.
A lengthy feature from Polygon, based on interviews with several sources from within the company, explains how all departments – from production to customer service – have been trapped in a seemingly endless work cycle since the battle royale become the world’s most popular game.
“I work an average 70 hours a week,” one source revealed. “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 same source explains that “the biggest problem is that we’re patching all the time.” Fortnite typically sees an update released every Thursday, meaning that there is always a significant amount of work to be done. The update cycle is intended to keep Fortnite popular with players, offering them new things to do and prevent them from drifting to other competitors.
The report details that while Epic is not making these long hours mandatory, employees find it impossible to take time off, as missing deadlines has led to dismissals. “People are losing their jobs because they don’t want to work these hours,” claims one source. Other sources report that taking time off leads to “a mark against your character”.
Complaints made to management about the conditions have been ignored. “They just didn’t care,” said a source. “When I complained, one of my managers told me to just quiet down, and warned me that I’d be let go.”
Because of Fortnite’s mass popularity, Epic’s development structure is reportedly affecting almost every area of the business. “Crunch was everywhere,” said a source. “Even facilities and office management. The only people that got away with not doing crunch were basically the guys that were telling people to crunch.”
Epic Games offered a response to Polygon’s findings, and claims that “extreme situations such as 100-hour work weeks are incredibly rare, and in those instances, we seek to immediately remedy them to avoid recurrence.”
“We have been responding to those challenges by aggressively growing the team, improving our planning process, and experimenting with approaches,” said the Epic spokesperson. One of those approaches includes two mandatory company-wide breaks, comprised of two weeks in the winter and summer.
The report paints a dismal picture of Epic Games’ working conditions; one where the endless nature of the game’s patches means things seem somewhat hopeless. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident in the industry: recently reports have exposed problems at BioWare during the creation of Anthem, and Rockstar during development of Red Dead Redemption 2.
Matt Purslow is IGN UK’s News and Entertainment Writer. You can follow him on Twitter.