Late capitalism strikes again - developers at Epic working on Fortnite are still crunching, despite the battle royale title being one of the biggest games in the world.
That's according to an exposé by Polygon, which says that staff - both in-house and contractors - are working as much as 70 hours a week, with that figure rising to 100 in some instances.
Employees say that there is the possibility of taking time off, but no-one actually does because of the sheer demand for manpower.
"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," one employee said.
“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.”
One issue is that the top level execs are pushing for new content to be added all the time.
“The executives keep reacting and changing things,” said one source.
“Everything has to be done immediately. We’re not allowed to spend time on anything. If something breaks — a weapon, say — then we can’t just turn it off and fix it with the next patch. It has to be fixed immediately, and all the while, we’re still working on next week’s patch. It’s brutal.
“I hardly sleep. I’m grumpy at home. I have no energy to go out. Getting a weekend away from work is a major achievement. If I take a Saturday off, I feel guilty. I’m not being forced to work this way, but if I don’t, then the job won’t get done.”
A spokesperson for Epic told Polygon that people working 100-hour weeks are rare.
"People are working very hard on Fortnite and other Epic efforts,” they said.
“Extreme situations such as 100-hour work weeks are incredibly rare, and in those instances, we seek to immediately remedy them to avoid recurrence.”
They added, pressed about contractor workload: “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 Games has reaped billions off the back of Fortnite. Over 250m people have played the game and in 2018, the battle royale behemoth made more money than any other title in the history of the industry in one year. We've seen this cash invested in a new storefront as well as free infrastructure that developers can now use. CEO Tim Sweeney (pictured) is now on the Bloomberg Billionaire Index and is worth $7.2bn at the time of writing.
Why it hasn't been invested as heavily into its staff as it clearly needs to be is somewhat baffling.
We caught up with CEO Sweeney at GDC to discuss the company's storefront.