Epic Games Accused of Crunch Culture on Fortnite
The discussions around crunch in the games industry have resurfaced from time to time, and mainly revolve around upcoming or recently released AAA games. Last year saw developers such as the now-defunct Telltale Games being found of not paying overtime to former employees following the studio’s sudden closure, while Rockstar fired back on ‘crunch culture’ concerns heading into Red Dead Redemption 2‘s release. Now, Epic Games has been thrown into the discussion, with the ongoing improvements and changes needed for Fortnite leading to greater pressure on the development team.
Over the course of multiple interviews with Polygon, a number of anonymous sources consisting of former and current employees from various departments at Epic Games, have called out the developer for its ongoing workload demand on Fortnite. While many sources have confirmed they have, or did, work 70-hour workweeks regularly, some have reported up to 100-hour workweeks in order to keep up with the incredible demand that Fortnite updates require.
While this isn’t the first time crunch in the industry has been brought up, the main difference between Fortnite‘s version of crunch compared to the likes of Red Dead Redemption 2, as an example, is that most of Rockstar’s crunch was in service of an end goal. As a title critically praised for its immersive single-player experience, development for Red Dead Redemption 2′s story was going to conclude at some point, though some of the team has continued to work on Red Dead Online. In the case of Fortnite‘s solely live service format, plus the exceptional popularity of the game, it appears there’s no chance for anyone working at Epic Games to catch their breath before moving onto the game’s next big project.
The most common changes Fortnite sees are changes at the beginning of each new season, which usually alter some part of the game’s map while adding new themes and cosmetics for players to unlock. Other updates include esports content, such as the Fortnite World Cup which began on April 13th and runs until the end of June. Other updates include timed crossover content, such as the Avengers: Endgame event beginning on April 25th. All of this is before any other adjustments the game might need, such as weapon balancing, bug fixes, and other changes requested by the community.
While Epic Games has done its best to expand its workforce to tackle the greater workload, contractors are reportedly brought in to help work on short term demands, such as the aforementioned seasonal content. As far as those employed under Epic Games, sources have said the company declares overtime is voluntary. However because there’s such a demand and revenue opportunity from Fortnite, those who’ve spoken say they feel/felt an obligation to make sure deadlines are met. Given the frequency in which changes come and go in Fortnite, it’s unlikely those deadlines will begin to dwindle anytime soon.
Fortnite is available on Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.