Because most major news stories about the culture and environment at video game developers tend to be negative, I thought tonight it would be nice to look at two recent examples of studios who are trying something different.
I’m not saying these are going to work in the long-term, or that they’re the only two developers trying to innovate in this space (there will be others, some who have been doing this already!). But seeing as both places announced their changes in the same week, I figured we could look at them together as part of what will hopefully, in the post-pandemic world that’s over the horizon, be part of a trend of studios changing the way employees work and communicate.
First up is Dontnod, the team behind the Life is Strange series, who announced earlier this week that they were implementing a work-from-home policy. As GI.biz reports, Dontnod had been considering this before the pandemic hit, but, “An employee referendum last October found 87% of the studio was in favor of the switch.” As a result, employees at its two offices in Paris and Montreal will be able to choose whether they work from the office or home, and if they choose the latter, they’ll have “equipment and furniture provided by the company.”
Bugsnax developers Young Horses, meanwhile, are going to shift to a four-day working week, which as Axios reports is, “An effort to create a healthier work-life balance at its studio.” They’ve actually been running on one since July as a test, but recently made the decision to switch to it permanently after finding that it absolutely kicked ass.
Of course, there are caveats here. Both are relatively small studios, at least in comparison with the companies whose names regularly feature in horror stories. Therefore they’re able to make these kind of drastic decisions more easily, since they affect fewer offices and employees. And like I’ve already said, both have made these decisions relatively recently, so the jury is still out on how they’ll affect the company’s culture and output in the long-term.
But for now, and on paper, these moves are great. It’ll be awesome to see more developers do likewise in the months and years to come, as they realise that, hey, not only do people like working from home, but employees who are rested and have time to relax and do cool shit might just turn out to be better employees as well.