In a stunning turn of events, Epic Games, the company behind the immensely popular Fortnite, announced that it will be laying off close to 900 employees. This news sent shockwaves throughout the video game industry, as it demonstrated that even the most successful developers are not immune to financial hardship. Making matters worse, on the same day as the layoffs, Fortnite re-released an in-game item called the “Share The Wealth” emote. This decision faced intense criticism, as it seemed incredibly tone-deaf to be promoting virtual items for sale right after letting go of hundreds of employees.
The controversy surrounding the re-release of the emote was highlighted by online gaming news accounts and social media users. Various Fortnite news accounts and Instagram posts criticized Epic Games for selling the emote just hours after the layoffs were announced. While the emote was quickly removed from the store, Epic Games explained that it was a pre-scheduled release and claimed it was a mistake. The company acknowledged the backlash and promised that the emote would return in the future. However, these explanations did little to quell the anger and confusion felt by both employees and the gaming community.
The layoffs at Epic Games have reignited debates about corporate responsibility and the treatment of employees. Many expressed disappointment and anger towards the company, citing instances of poor decision-making and greed. Former employees, particularly those who were let go while dealing with personal challenges like skin cancer, expressed their frustration on social media. Despite the layoffs, Epic Games continues to invest in ventures like the Epic Games Store and offers free games to customers. While the severity of the layoffs and their impact on the company’s financial situation remains uncertain, it is clear that the industry has been reminded of the harsh realities faced by workers in an increasingly profit-driven market.