CARY – Epic Games isn’t saying very much about a report in news site Polygon that reports development of the company’s mega-hit “Fortnite” led to high pressure, long hours and the creation of a “toxic” work environment for developers.
“We have nothing to add,” a spokesperson for Epic told WRAL TechWire on Tuesday shortly after the Polygon story was published.
Fortnite had become a global phenomenon since its release some 18 months ago with hundreds of millions of players. Fortnite has become a lucrative profit center, adding billions of dollars to Epic’s net worth, according to various reports.
But the success came at high costs, according to Polygon’s sources.
“The game’s explosive growth led to months of intense crunch for Epic employees and contractors, some of whom say they felt extreme pressure to work grueling hours to maintain Fortnite’s success and profitability, resulting in a toxic, stressful environment at the company,” Polygon reported.
“In a dozen interviews conducted by Polygon over a period of several months, current and former employees say they regularly worked in excess of 70-hour weeks, with some reporting 100-hour weeks. Contract staff in Epic’s quality assurance and customer service departments spoke of a stressful and hostile working environment in which working overtime — while officially voluntary — was an expected service to the company.”
“I work an average 70 hours a week,” one employee told Polygon. “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 company gives us unlimited time off, but it’s almost impossible to take the time. If I take time off, the workload falls on other people, and no one wants to be that guy.
“The biggest problem is that we’re patching all the time. The executives are focused on keeping Fortnite popular for as long as possible, especially with all the new competition that’s coming in.”
Epic did offer more of a response about the story to Variety and Polygon.
A spokesperson said that Epic 100-hour work weeks are “incredibly rare.”
Regarding demands placed on contractors, the spokesperson added:
“All Epic contractors have a fixed contract term that is communicated up-front, typically between six and 12 months. Epic makes contract renewal decisions based on the quality of work performed and willingness to work at times needed to meet critical release dates.”
Epic shifted resources within the company and shut down development of another game in order to concentrate on Fortnite’s development.