Eidos’ Quebec game studios shift to a four-day work week

Eidos is joining the ranks of game developers pushing back against crunch time. The Square Enix-owned studio has announced that its Quebec locations (Montreal and Sherbrooke) are shifting to a four-day, Monday-to-Thursday work week sometime in the “next few weeks.” Salaries and working conditions will remain the same, the Deus Ex and Tomb Raider developer said.

The hope, as you might expect, is to improve the quality of working hours. Eidos is accordingly encouraging teams to redefine work conditions and improve efficiency, such as by cutting meeting times. The company had already implemented some quality-of-life changes during the pandemic, such as rest periods and compensation for mental and physical health costs — this is ostensibly a logical extension of that strategy.

Eidos isn’t the first studio to adopt a four-day week. Bugsnax developer Young Horses made that switch in September. It’s very rare for a large studio to make this move, though, and it might prompt similar moves by other developers if the strategy proves successful.

“If” is the operative term, however. Eidos was eager to tout past tests with shortened work weeks, like with Iceland’s civil service, but it’s not yet clear if that translates to the game industry. Developers are notorious for rushing games to make the holiday season, even if that leads to extremely buggy results. Eidos will have to make a hard choice: does it stick to the four-day schedule and risk delaying games, or demand extra hours to be sure a title is ready? This shortened week could pay off with happier developers, but it could also cause problems if teams take months more to finish projects.

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IBM 2nm chips envision phones with four-day battery life

There is only so much you can cram inside a smartphone without sacrificing other things like phone size, internal space, thermal emission, and battery life. One solution is to shrink those components while maintaining or even improving their performance and efficiency. That is often the case with semiconductors, particularly the processors that power phones, laptops, and computers, and IBM’s first 2nm chip, also the world’s first 2nm chip, promises to do exactly that and then some.

Most of the processors that power high-end smartphones and devices today utilize 5 or 7 nm FinFET processes. To put it into perspective, a 5nm chip crams less than a million transistors per square millimeter while this proof-of-concept 2nm chip can hold more than 300 million. According to IBM, that results in a 45% improvement in performance.

With more transistors, of course, comes more processing power but also more power consumption. That isn’t the case here, however, as IBM advertises an even lower 75% energy use compared to current chips in use. In practice, that could make it possible to have smartphones that will take days, not hours, before needing to be recharged.

It’s not just about smartphone battery life, of course. IBM tries to envision a world where data centers will produce less carbon footprint and self-driving cars can detect objects faster and, consequently, avoid crashing into them. The smaller chips will also be a boon to the IoT industry that has always been constrained when it comes to available space but also need sufficient processing power to offer smart features.

That said, it’s too early to get excited over IBM’s 2nm processors, enticing as they may sound. It will probably take years before actual 2nm chips become commercially available, especially considering the global silicon shortage we’re facing now.

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