If you’ve ever wondered how Epic Games manages to push out sizable Fortnite updates on a weekly basis without fail, all your questions appear to have been answered. In a newly-published report by Polygon, an unhealthy work ethic at the battle royale developer seems to have been simmering for quite some time, including claims from former employees that some staff racked up eye-watering 100-hour work weeks.
The exposé, which logs various statements and interviews with a dozen current and former employees, goes into great depth about working conditions under the studio, some of which reported a “culture of fear,” where overtime became the expected standard, rather than the exception.
“I work an average 70 hours a week,” says one current employee that preferred to remain anonymous, who added that “at least 50 or even 100 other people at Epic,” were working similar hours. Time off often resulted in the affected employee’s workload being handed off to another individual in their absence, adds another, with the prospect of even getting a single weekend out of the office considered a “major achievement.”
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As to why such unrelenting crunch periods have become the norm, one employee points the finger at higher management. “The executives keep reacting and changing things” reveals one source, who goes on to explain how no time is set aside for developers to fix bugs or mistakes. Rather, any live content requiring a second pass must be “immediately” fixed alongside scheduled future patches.
If you’re experiencing a severe case of deja vu from reading the above, it’s for good reason. In just the last six months, both Rockstar and BioWare have been scrutinized for relying on so-called ‘crunch culture’ to ensure games get out the door in a timely manner. In the latter’s case, ill-fated ‘live service’ title Anthem was cobbled together over several months of active development, despite having entered early production nearly six years prior.
Worryingly, it’s a growing trend in the triple-A games industry, and it remains to be seen if the most recent report will have any effect on Fortnite going forward.