Tomb Raider, Guardians of the Galaxy Developer Adopting 4-Day Work Week

During COVID-19, the video game industry has awkwardly but mostly successfully embraced remote work. Now, other changes are coming.
October 7, 2021, 3:38pm
A screen shot from the video game Guardians of the Galaxy
Image courtesy of Square Enix

The developer behind Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the most recent Deus Ex games, and this month's Guardians of the Galaxy is moving to a four-day work week, the studio announced today, calling it "a better work-life balance for even more innovative games."

The shift, which involves shutting the studio down on Fridays and will not impact employee salaries, starts "in the next few weeks" for the Eidos Montreal studios located in Montreal and Sherbrooke, Canada. It will also, importantly, try not to "condense the working hours into 4 days." Four days is four days.

In theory, anyway. 

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This move comes alongside other in-house approaches to time management, including putting a time limit of 30-minutes on meetings, and embracing remote work/hybrid work. The latter became a necessity during COVID-19, but is finding some permanent footing in an industry that has typically required employees to live close to their studio and work in-office.

"We are convinced that this renewed management of working time will help cultivate the creativity and motivation of the teams, and become a real driver of innovation and performance," said the company in a blog post about the move, which not-so-coincidentally came with a link to its hiring page. (The Montreal hiring scene is especially competitive.)

Eidos Montreal is owned by Square Enix, and so far, there's no indication the rest of Square Enix, such as The Avengers developer Crystal Dynamics or the many in-house studios that produce games like Final Fantasy in Japan, will pursue the same four-day workweek plan. 

It's also currently unclear how this shift will impact the frequently inevitable arrival of crunch during development, intense periods of labor where employees work far more than 32 hours, let alone 40, for weeks and months at a time. Under crunch, does the Friday slot open up? 

Earlier this year, several developers at Insomniac Games shared they experienced little to no crunch while making the acclaimed Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. But crunch is typical.

It's also unclear how this policy impacts Eidos Montreal's contracted workers, or the external studios big budget games frequently collaborate with in order to pull off these massive creative endeavours. The employees of Eidos Montreal having better, happier work lives is important, but absent change further down the ladder, all it may do is mask the problems.

The studio did not respond to an immediate request for comment about these issues.

The response from other developers in the industry was largely positive, including some wondering if their company might be the next to adopt a similar approach to development.

Last month, Bugsnax and Octodad developer Young Horses announced a four-day work week, with Young Horses co-founder and president Phil Tibitoski telling Axios that it was possible for larger developer to adopt the same model, "but you have to have buy-in from the top and their goals/processes/expectations have to be adapted to support the change."

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