Eugen Systems Strike
Eugen Systems is a game development company in Paris, France. They make real-time strategy games with a particular focus on historical military games. Opening in January 2000, Eugen Systems went on to develop numerous games such as Act of War: High Treason and Steel Division: Normandy.
On February 14th, 2018, 21 employees of Eugen Systems went on strike. The striking workers were members of the game developers union Le Syndicat des Travailleurs et Travailleuses du Jeu Vidéo which formed in France in November, 2017.
The Eugen strikers wrote regular communications about their strike effort which were posted on the STJV website and also on the Eugen Systems forums page. The primary concerns were related to salary and benefits. The strikers accused Eugen Systems of violating employment law regarding persistent unpaid overtime, arbitrary pay cuts and demotions to lower pay grades and benefits levels. The workers reported that they attempted to engage their employer in dialogue over these issues for six months prior to their strike, but they were met with a “wall”, disingenuous claims that all would be well, and further attacks on their pay grades, job ranks and overtime pay.
Throughout the strike, Eugen workers received messages of support from other developers. Though their core dispute was about specific violations of French employment law, the strikers came to see their struggle as a larger issue. One week into the strike they wrote:
Our demands are about the application of law, especially concerning our salaries. But the problems we face seem to be rooted in a deeper phenomenon: a lack of appreciation for the work we do every day. All of us would seemingly be perfectly replaceable tools. Our know-how, experience, qualities and qualifications are obviously parameters that shouldn’t be taken into account.
Yet who designs games, creates them, enriches them with contents, and ensures they function properly?
The strikers met with their employer throughout March with a government labour inspector present as a mediator. The talks did not amount to any movement on either side. The strikers realized that their Employer was not willing to negotiate under any circumstances.
The workers ended their strike on April 3, 2018. They reported that they will continue to pursue their grievances by whatever means necessary - a number of complaints were filed with the labour tribunal in France to try to address some of the past infractions by Eugen Systems. In total, the strike lasted about a month and a half.
When Eugen employees went on strike, they established a crowdsourced strike fund to collect money to sustain them over the course of the strike. The fund reached 14,195 €.
General Commentary on this Topic:
Emma Kidwell on Gamasutra: Feb 15, 2018: Eugen Systems devs on strike after claiming violations of rights
Dominic Tarason on Rock Paper Shotgun: March 12, 2018: Nearly a month on, Eugen Systems staff remain on strike
Ethan Gach on Kotaku: March 16, 2018: Developers at one French game studio have been on strike for a month
Brendan Sinclair on Games Industry: April 2nd, 2018: Eugen Systems Striking devs going to labour court
Brian Bell on Paste Magazine: April 3rd, 2018: Striking Eugen Systems Devs Are Taking the Company to Court
Reddit Thread on /r/Games by u/Vithia: April, 2018: Eugen Systems Strike is over
Andy Chalk on PC Gamer: April 12, 2018: The Eugen Systems strike is over, but the battle rages on
Brendan Sinclair on Games Industry: April 12th, 2018: Eugen Systems developers call an end to strike