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.
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.
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 Eidos, 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 favor 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.
In response to our inquiries, Square Enix replied that this policy shift means that all full-time Eidos-Montréal employees, including the internal QA team, will transition to a four-day work week. Of course the real proof will come from the words of the workers themselves. As always, if you’re working at Eidos and want to let us know what’s happening, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated: This post has been updated to incorporate a response from Square Enix.