Epic Games has taken a long, hard look at the current state of Gaming. the development firm behind Unreal Engine 4 and its predecessors it’s taking strides to make gaming a better, more profitable, and more sustainable industry. Facing major competitors Like Valve, Epic Games is pushing other companies to compete with a higher standard.
Epic Games has been widely criticized for inciting a crunch based and high-stress work environment for their development, creative, and other teams. Epic Games has historically given a winter break to their Studio employees. This year, Epic Games has announced it 2 weeks summer shutdown for the entire Studio.
Is unclear at this time, whether or not the shutdown will also effect paid contractors or simply employees.
What Types Of Content Will Be Rolled Out During The Shutdown?
Epic will be implementing a ’14 days of rewards’ event during the shutdown, adding chug splash, and new cosmetics among the other updates from version 9.30. The studio has announced that despite the shutdown, they have systems in place to deal with any issues, bugs, or other complications.
Oh, did we mention Epic has, yet again, included Prop Hunt, a fan favorite from Call of Duty and other games, which originated in CS:GO’s modding community.
Which Staff Members Will Take Time Off?
Staff from Epic will be taking mandatory leave from all posts—the studio will be completely shutting down for two weeks. According to a tweet from Lead Animator, Jay Hosfelt, Epic Games does sincerely care for its employees.
This may cover paid contractors, however, there is no confirmation available about the state of contractors in this studio shutdown.
How Is Epic Positioning Themselves To Eat The Competition Alive?
The not-so-small company is offering substantially better third-party developer compensation rates at 88% of revenue going to the developers on the epic game store compared to 70/30, 75/25, 80/20 revenue on Steam. in addition to better compensation, Epic Games is providing substantially better employee benefits, vacation, and other forms of non monetary reimbursement than their competitors.
Summer and winter breaks are not the only time all that Epic Games provides for their employees, they are provided with standard vacation time as well. In the past, studios have implemented seven day work weeks to meet their deadlines. One such example is Call of Juarez: The Cartel by Ubisoft. The development team pulled six to seven day work weeks for five straight months, often working 10 hours per day.
Marc-Alexis Cote, senior producer of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, has this to say in an interview:
“We collectively, on the management team, think that it is a false economy to burn out our teams. We risk losing them, or we risk disengaging them, and we will simply not get the best out of those talents if we’re forcing them to work insane hours in a crunch.”
A startling 44 percent of developers in the IGDA admitted that they have to work extended weeks, just under 25 percent actually worked 70 hours per week or more, but their employers do not call it ‘crunch.’ Some developers are regularly subjected to 70-100 hour work weeks and bound from speaking out due to NDA. This problem is similar to the forced arbitration agreement scenario which Riot Games has forced on their employees.
Riot Games’ role in muzzling employees seems to have been largely restricted to sexual harassment, but the end result is the same. Studios rob employees of their voice through contractual agreements.
Epic Games seems to be taking actions to resolve these issues at their core, starting from within. They are also putting heavy pressure on other companies to do the same or die off as a result.