Epic Games makes hundreds of temp staff full-time workers

(Image credit: Epic Games)

Epic Games has announced it will offer hundreds of contract workers full-time contracts, a move that comes in the wider industry context of severe tensions (at best) between major studios and their employees. Part of the latter were reports about Epic staff having to crunch and work long hours in order to keep the content flowing for Fortnite: with some saying they worked 70-hour weeks for months at a time.

Subsequently Epic closed its studios for two weeks and now, as first reported by the Verge, is preparing to offer its US-based contractors full-time contracts: this includes QA testers and other unspecified roles. An internal memo sent to employees says that Epic will "offer full-time at-will employment to eligible US-based contingent workers" and the new contracts "will be effective [from] April 4th, 2022." Epic also outlines some exceptions to this change where it claims "it makes sense for both the worker and Epic to maintain contingent worker status."

Epic spokesperson Elka Looks told The Verge the number of employees involved is "a few hundred" and that QA makes up "most but not all" of the contingent. The full-time contracts will come with Epic's considerable employee benefits which, in a country with a healthcare system like America, is certainly not to be sneezed at.

This does feel slightly like Epic trying to get ahead of the rest of the industry but, putting the cynical hat to one side, it is inarguably the right thing to have done: however late in the day it may be for some. It is perhaps coincidence that, nine days ago, a judge ruled that temporary workers could be included in one of the ongoing lawsuits faced by Activision Blizzard.

In an industry where workplace culture still makes continuous headlines, and when you're never more than a few days away from another story about horrific crunch, this is at least a recognition that highly profitable companies like Epic can afford to treat all employees better: and in the long run, that'll work out better for everyone.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."