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-   -   How Epic Games Screws Over Employees to Bring you Fortnite! (http://www.evilavatar.com/forums/showthread.php?t=260140)

Evil Avatar 04-24-2019 07:08 AM

How Epic Games Screws Over Employees to Bring you Fortnite!
 

Polygon has a feature online, detailing the cruel work environment over at Epic Games following the success of Fortnite.

Quote:

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 Epicís quality assurance and customer service departments spoke of a stressful and hostile working environment in which working overtime ó while officially voluntary ó was an expected service to the company.

Although contract staff were paid overtime, developers report a culture of fear, in which they were expected to pull long hours as part of their job. Some reported suffering health issues after working consecutive months of 70-hour weeks.
Polygon.

It's almost like they were owned by some Chinese sweatshop. Oh, wait...

brandonjclark 04-24-2019 08:24 AM

It's not just Epic, nor only the video game industry. "Productivity" is at an all-time high for the American worker.

All employers are asking for more effort with no change in pay.

It's a shitty situation.

vallor 04-24-2019 08:44 AM

When Rod Ferguson was running Production at Epic during the Gears of War days he managed to get it down to the point where every milestone or so you may have a few weeks of mandated 50 hour weeks then of course the monster ship crunch. People at Epic often worked more, but it wasn't mandated. After he left that sort of blew up into a full blown crunch culture where 50 - 60 hr weeks was common and they served dinner almost every night.

At the end of the day it comes down to having strong people in the production team pushing sane schedules in the sprints and milestones (depending on their dev methodology) and pushing back on management to ensure sustainability of the product and the staff.

But it sounds like they don't have people willing to push back (or strong enough) on Mark Rein, Farns, Pete, Vogel, the Epic "OG" (some of whom have shares in the company) to keep a healthy environment.

Standard Operating Procedure for Tencent has been that they have been pretty hands off with with the day to day operations of their owned studios like Riot, much less their partial owned studios like Epic so I wouldn't lay the blame at their feet.

I've seen this happen at other companies too, so I wouldn't say it is endemic to Epic at all. It happens when a company falls into success and wants to keep ahead of the market but are sort of flailing around making it up as they go along. Epic may have meant to make Fortnite a game as a service but it was originally a Save the World mode and they had a different cadence of updates and different types of content updates than when BR hit big.

And as much money as they say people are making it doesn't trickle down very well since the "new" compensation model started about a decade ago and they clamped down on giving shares as rewards which means there are very few people seeing super-car, super-house, and retirement money.

Certainly few associate producers, QA, and customer service reps who, if they are full-time at all are only seeing fractions of bonus points.

DingBat 04-24-2019 08:47 AM

The 40 hour work week was created by Henry Ford, who was not exactly a friend of the average worker.

The video game industry IS unique in a few ways:
- Extreme date sensitivity
- One off releases, meaning the workforce is often ramped up for the project then left go afterwards
- Patches and DLC are often a continuation of the death march in order to "strike while the iron's hot"

I can actually understand the reasons for long work hours. I think they're mistaken, but I understand them. But the problem is that companies are still pretending, through their compensation, etc, that the job is still a 40 hour work position.

Not blaming the victims here, but if you view a role as "cool" and believe you're lucky to have a job you, as a worker, are tying one hand behind your back. With few exceptions there is no such thing as loyalty in the employer-employee relationship these days. You, as an employee, have to act in the same cold-blooded manner that employers do. Especially when your health is suffering.

vallor 04-24-2019 08:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DingBat (Post 2536161)
Not blaming the victims here, but if you view a role as "cool" and believe you're lucky to have a job you, as a worker, are tying one hand behind your back.

The term I use, which I heard from someone else so I can't claim ownership of, is "what are you willing to suffer for the dubious honor of working in video games?"

You could change that phrase for any prestige career.

DingBat 04-24-2019 09:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by vallor (Post 2536162)
The term I use, which I heard from someone else so I can't claim ownership of, is "what are you willing to suffer for the dubious honor of working in video games?"

You could change that phrase for any prestige career.

That's good. I will steal that as well in the future.

Mad Max RW 04-24-2019 09:18 AM

From what I understand people are working these hours under the pretense of a giant bonus at the end of the year if the company reaches its sales goal. People are convinced by everyone around them the goal cannot be met if you slack and do less than suicidal hours.

MavenACTG 04-24-2019 11:56 AM

Gamers don't give a shit about how the sausage is made.

Terran 04-24-2019 02:12 PM

I chose a career where my hours are clearly defined and limited, as is also true of my salary. They did not. They make a lot more, they work a lot more.

Tough shit. #DealWithIt. #ChangeJobs or #ChangeCareers.

Chief Smash 04-24-2019 02:58 PM

Yeah it’s not like they’re getting black lung from putting in extra hours at the mine in a struggle to put a meal on the table for a family. I can sympathize but only a bit. This is the career they’ve chosen.

vallor 04-24-2019 02:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Terran (Post 2536186)
I chose a career where my hours are clearly defined and limited, as is also true of my salary. They did not. They make a lot more, they work a lot more.

Tough shit. #DealWithIt. #ChangeJobs or #ChangeCareers.

The funny thing is many of them would make a lot more in a more traditional, but more boring job. A programmer working on banking, office, or web software or something would make 20% - 30% more money and have a much better life balance.

Epic is one of the few which has the opportunity for people to make decent bonuses however that isn't the case with 90% of other game companies. In general, for the typical employee, lower salaries is another one of those things you accept for the dubious honor of working in the video games industry.

Terran 04-24-2019 04:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by vallor (Post 2536193)
In general, for the typical employee, lower salaries is another one of those things you accept for the dubious honor of working in the video games industry.

Don't care.

Life is a series of trade-offs and opportunity costs. Choose wisely, take responsibility for your choices, and make new ones if you don't like how the current ones are working out.

I chose time off over pay. I'll be visiting 30+ states this summer on a seven week trip. I'm also broke compared to my brother, who works on Wall Street and doesn't have any kids.

Bitching about the crabgrass on your side, and the lovely yard on the other side, is completely human. It's also completely annoying, and nobody cares. :D

Chief Smash 04-24-2019 04:24 PM

Only Terran can get in an argument with the guy agreeing with him. :D

Skunk 04-24-2019 04:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chief Smash (Post 2536197)
On Terran can get in an argument with the guy agreeing with him. :D

Well said.

Terran 04-24-2019 06:30 PM

Well said? Said wrongly, lol.

I made the explicit point that folks in the industry have chosen terrible working hours in return for higher pay. That is a reality of private industry, including video games; good pay and bonuses. Vallor said " lower salaries is another one of those things you accept" to work in gaming, and that's incorrect so I disagreed with him. :rolleyes:

Folks in the video game industry make a great living. They have rough hours, but make good money with plenty of upside growth potential.

Cry me a river that the hours suck. Also, you guys are idiots who can't read. :D

DingBat 04-24-2019 07:26 PM

Well, I certainly can't speak for the majority of the game industry, especially AAA studios but I had an opportunity to work in the game industry. I thought about it right up until they told me the salary. I nope'd out of there pretty quick. It would've been a 30% pay cut. Plus I knew what I was getting into as far as hours were concerned.

If you break down gaming industry pay vs a regular 40 hr/wk job on a $/hour basis it's not even a contest.

I can imagine that the QA staff were getting paid a lot less.

I was always under the impression that you had to make it to the "producer" level before you starting seeing good money.

My experience is probably not typical. Hopefully there's someone else here who's more informed than I am.

Edit: Regardless, I agree with Terran that this is a situation that's easy to rectify: quit. There are plenty of better paying, healthier opportunities in the software biz.

Evil Avatar 04-24-2019 07:40 PM

Anyone who thinks that working QA opens up a career path to other opportunities is living in a strange fantasy world anyway.

There is no career advancement from QA. If you had any skills, you would already be working that other job.

vallor 04-24-2019 08:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Evil Avatar (Post 2536204)
Anyone who thinks that working QA opens up a career path to other opportunities is living in a strange fantasy world anyway.

There is no career advancement from QA. If you had any skills, you would already be working that other job.

In this case you are wrong. I've seen plenty of QA people move up through the ranks. It is actually one of the ways to break into the industry.

However, it does take time and patience and you also can't expect to do it just because you become good at testing or because you work at a company in the QA team for a long time. You have to have other skills at a high level. In a typical development studio if you have a background in another discipline you can use QA to get your foot in the door. Then you can leverage your other skills to help out the other discipline you work in when they need help. Many sound, level design, Jr. Programmers, Artists, kickstart their career this way.

If all you are is good at QA then you can try to make a change to production but this is a pretty tough road. You have to be REALLY exceptional at communication or planning or some other "X factor" in order to make this leap.

You also have to luck into working at a studio that actually hires a number of QA people in-house.

This doesn't happen for many actual development studios, they usually rely on the Publisher to provide most of the testing muscle and it is much, much harder to move out of QA to another discipline at a Publisher because they are lean when it comes to hiring people in the other functional disciplines. After all, the publisher doesn't need a ton of artists, the developer does all the art creation so there is typically no route out of QA into art.

This changes a little in the self-publish model, and there are other variables but I don't want to get that deep into it.

In a more formal company like a publisher, especially a company where they value QA as a scientific discipline in and of itself as a peer with development and production, etc you would be expected to commit to QA as a career, it is not a stepping stone like in a typical dev house.

At a place like Microsoft or Amazon you can spend 30 years in QA and still not reach the peak of the discipline and the baseline to getting a fulltime job there is also very high, starting with a degree in computer science.

They usually don't hire regular joes off the street full-time because they want to leverage a lot of tools and automation and so on to "work smarter, not harder". When there isn't a tool available they need the tester to be smart enough to do a cost analysis and see if it is worth it to spend the time to create one and, if so, they want the tester to be able to create it themselves. They don't want someone who is going to ditch out of the QA team the second they can to jump to design or art or programming.

PatrickRes9 04-25-2019 09:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Terran (Post 2536186)
I chose a career where my hours are clearly defined and limited, as is also true of my salary. They did not. They make a lot more, they work a lot more.

Tough shit. #DealWithIt. #ChangeJobs or #ChangeCareers.

Kinda this. My hours are defined. My friend in the biz...his hours are brutal.

I make $50,000 in the SaaS industry but I work a clear cut 40 a week. I check out when I hit the 8 hour mark every day. No pressure to stay - ever.
He makes $70,000 in the games industry.

Time for the new jobs and a lifestyle change if ya don't like it.

Xqa 04-26-2019 08:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Evil Avatar (Post 2536204)
Anyone who thinks that working QA opens up a career path to other opportunities is living in a strange fantasy world anyway.

There is no career advancement from QA. If you had any skills, you would already be working that other job.


No idea about now a days.... but 15 years so there sure was.
I worked QA at Atari in Beverly MA and went onsite to bioware edmonton, legend in VA and Digital Extremes in Ontario and i could have ended up at anyone of those after getting my foot in the door and people seeing first hand what your capable of. A coworker in QA ended up at bethesda and is now a senior producer. Another is at epic as a qa supervisor. I almost ended up as a producer.

The problem has always been do you want to devote 75+ hours a week of your life to gaming. I loved the work and the money was nice and more or less needed after you factor in the cost of living in CA and MA compared to say cleveland. Ontop of that do you want or have a spouse or partner that will tolerate that kind of work week? I didnt at the time but things changed and went back to more main stream IT work and started a family. I dont regret leaving but miss the work. After all in QA your pointing out other peoples mistakes all day long :)


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