In an industry plagued for years by workplace crunch and the mistreatment of developers, good news can be hard to come by. But in an apparent effort to address some of these issues, Eidos Montreal — the studio behind the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy game — has announced it will be switching to a four-day work week. It is, they say, an effort to remain productive, and provide a sustainable environment for its employees.
We're continuing to adapt our studio to the new realities of work. After remote working and the hybrid model, we're shifting to the 4-day work week! A better work-life balance for even more innovative games. Details ????https://t.co/1AaVJFwCLX
— Eidos-Montréal (@EidosMontreal) October 7, 2021
As a result, Eidos studios in Montreal and Sherbrooke will be closed on Fridays, shortening its work week from 40 hours to 32 hours a week. David Anfossi, head of studio at Eidos, claims the transition will not affect the working conditions or salaries of its employees.
“Concretely, we want to reduce the time at work, but increase the quality of this time invested, whether it’s on a team-basis or for the studio as a whole,” he said in a statement, calling it, “A promising right balance for everything!”
Anfossi added that the company’s initiative towards a four-day week was an “embodiment of the studio’s values, building a healthy, creative, and sustainable work environment for our employees.” The shortened work week for Eidos employees is not being done to condense their production into four days, they claim, but to increase the productivity and well-being of its employees.
Eidos says part of what influenced this decision was trying to answer the question of how they could increase their efficiency as a company without compromising the wellbeing of their employees. Anfossi said remote working during the pandemic transformed how the company collaborated. Eidos say they implemented a variety of services for their employees: rest periods, access to financial advisors, telemedicine, and reimbursement for mental health care and physical activity costs. They plan to continue with these.
Eidos Montreal, the studio behind the new Guardians of the Galaxy game, is switching to a four-day work week. I believe this is the first AAA video game studio to make the shift. Given how much competition there is for talent in Montreal these days, this will have a huuuge impact https://t.co/eluvUBbXrM
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) October 7, 2021
While Eidos might be the first example of a AAA video game studio to shift their work weeks, it’s not the first video game studio to do so. Smaller studios like Dontnod and Young Horses began implementing work-from-home and shortened work weeks for their employees in September.
Similarly to Edios, Young Horses, the studio behind Bugsnax, shifted to a four-day week in September to, “create a healthier work-life balance at its studio,” according to Axios. The studio initially started out their four-day week in July as a trial run, before deciding to make it permanent.
Dontnod, the studio behind the Life is Strange series, planned on implementing a work-from-home policy before the pandemic hit. After an employee referendum in October of last year saw that 87% of the studio were in favour of the policy, the studio decided to make it permanent. Employees at the studio’s Montreal and Paris locations were able to choose to either work from home or in the office. If they chose the former, they would have “equipment and furniture provided by the company,” according to GI.biz.
The gaming industry has for too long been rife with awful working conditions and ludicrous crunch demands, so these steps by Eidos, Dontnod, and Young Horses could possibly have an impact on how others in the industry will consider operating in the future. While these solutions are not catch-alls for the game industry’s problems as a whole, they are at least a hopeful step towards the improvement of the video game industry when it comes to handling worker treatment and crunch.
Of course the real proof of Eidos Montreal’s claims will come from the words of those who work on the floors, rather than the optimistic spin of those in the corporate suites. Indeed, we still don’t know if these changes will be applied to the long-suffering QA departments, and have reached out to Eidos owners Square Enix to ask. We’ll update should they get back to us. As always, if you’re working at Eidos and want to let us know what’s happening, it’s [email protected]