Epic Games, hit by an in-depth report that the video game and high-end graphical technology development firm was burning out its workforce where senior programmers can earn $157,000 a year, is giving its entire team a two-week vacation.
The privately held company cofounded and led by Tim Sweeney, now a billionaire according to Bloomberg News’s billionaires index, is also striving to fill open jobs to support growth and movement into new areas for the company such as esports.
Tim Sweeney (Epic image)
Driving growth is popular online game Fortnite which is delivering billions in revenue a year to the company. News site TechCrunch is so impressed by Epic’s financial performance that it declares Epic had as good a year as any tech firm.
Now comes a pause for Epic’s team to catch its collective breath. In a blog post, Epic says its office in Cary will be closed from June 24 to 28. The company has some 1,000 employees spread at offices inside and outside the US.
Dana Cowley, the Epic executive heading up corporate marketing and media, wouldn’t discuss any issues about the vacation or other issues but did point out Epic’s search for talent is worldwide, not just in Cary.
“What I can say is that we’re all on the two-week summer vacation,” she told WRAL TechWire on Saturday.
“I can also confirm that we are hiring for our studios all over the world.”
Then she pointed job seekers to a website.
While not citing a particular reason for the break, Epic’s team has been under tremendous strains for month as Fortnite continues to draw fans and players that number in the hundreds of millions. Such demand has led to continuous updates in the game as well as technical issues such as server issues, based on updates from the company and monitoring by video game news sites.
SIGNS OF STRESS AND SUPPORT
Employees sharing data and opinions online like and dislike aspects of working at Epic.
At employee rating site Glassdoor, Epic scores a 3.8 out of 5 from workers. (Rival Electronic Arts rates a 3.7)
While 90 percent say they approve of CEO Sweeney, only 72 percent would recommend Epic as a place to work to a friend. Contributors to the site like perks for full-time employees, contractors don’t get that benefit, they say. And several note that “work/life balance” can be “difficult to manage,” noting “crunch” as deadlines approach for updates and development.
Epic pays well, too, at least at top level jobs. Tthe average tech industry salary in the Triangle area has been cited at more than $90,000 in a recent study, but at Epic senior programmers earn $141,000 and up, according to data from Epic employees shared at Glassdoor.
On the low end are quality assurance testers who are contractors. They make $15 an hour.
In announcing the vacation, Epic explained on Friday:
“Following this week, the Epic office will be closed between June 24 – July 8. During that time, we will not have any official Fortnite Competitive Tournaments running. When we come back, our next prized tournament will be a Trios tournament on July 13th & 14th. We will still have two content updates over these weeks and you’ll be able to get all the details in the patch notes as normal.”
Epic in the past has given employees a two-week break around Christmas. Founded in 1991, the company’s growth path has accelerated since Sweeney chose to sell a sizable chunk of the company to China-based Tencent in 2013 for more than $300 million.
THE GROWTH CURVE
Epic is growing rapidly beyond Fortnite. Having raised some $1 billion in private equity last year – more than any other firm in North Carolina had ever raised at one time – the company is growing its own online store through which a continuous stream of game companies are utilizing to sell their titles and is preparing a move into esports through acquisitions as well as new executive hires.
Fortnite, not even two years old, also generated some $3 billion in revenue for Epic in 2018. To put that cash haul into perspective, it’s equivalent to revenue produced by Cary-based SAS, one of the world’s largest privately held software firms.