Tucked into a small update on Fortnite’s news blog yesterday, developer Epic Games announced the the studio will be taking a two week break. From June 24th to July 8th, Epic’s offices will be closed.
Since Fortnite Battle Royale ascended into the popular culture, the game has been known for adding constant updates, while the studio has been known for the intense workload required to design, ship, and fix those updates.
In April, we reported on the specifics of Epic’s apparent crunch problem when it comes to Fortnite. Some workers have voiced concerns that keeping up this pace has led to grueling hours. In response, Epic Games representative said that the company has a mandatory two week break.
We already knew that one break was in winter, which is not unusual — it’s the holidays. But this year, for the first time, Epic Games will be taking a second break during the summer, too.
What’s curious is that, even during this downtime for employees, Fortnite itself won’t be taking a break. An Epic Games representative told Polygon that, similarly to the studio’s winter break, Fortnite will continue to update while the offices are closed. Furthermore, an Epic Games representative said the developer has “measures in place to ensure we can react to major issues (should they arise)” during that studio closure. Epic did not divulge what those measures are, or what kind of content Fortnite will receive during the studio closure.
This decision comes on the heels of an industry-wide conversation around crunch, and how the pivot to “games as service” may be worsening the work pressure on some game developers. Where Fortnite is instituting mandatory breaks for its developers to offset the demanding nature of constant updates, Apex Legends creators Respawn Entertainments are trying to dole out new content “with a focus on quality” rather than “novelty or speed or release.” Respawn says that it is doing so in order to help its employees avoid “burnout or worse.”
“Epic shuts the studio down for 2 weeks in the summer and two in the winter,” said Epic Games lead animator Jay Hosfelt on Twitter. “We also get vacation on top of it. I don’t say this to brag, but to vocally applaud a company that sincerely cares for its employees.”