|EA: The Human Story
||[Nov. 10th, 2004|12:01 am]
My significant other works for Electronic Arts, and I'm what you might call a disgruntled spouse.|
EA's bright and shiny new corporate trademark is "Challenge Everything." Where this applies is not exactly clear. Churning out one licensed football game after another doesn't sound like challenging much of anything to me; it sounds like a money farm. To any EA executive that happens to read this, I have a good challenge for you: how about safe and sane labor practices for the people on whose backs you walk for your millions?
I am retaining some anonymity here because I have no illusions about what the consequences would be for my family if I was explicit. However, I also feel no impetus to shy away from sharing our story, because I know that it is too common to stick out among those of the thousands of engineers, artists, and designers that EA employs.
Our adventures with Electronic Arts began less than a year ago. The small game studio that my partner worked for collapsed as a result of foul play on the part of a big publisher -- another common story. Electronic Arts offered a job, the salary was right and the benefits were good, so my SO took it. I remember that they asked him in one of the interviews: "how do you feel about working long hours?" It's just a part of the game industry -- few studios can avoid a crunch as deadlines loom, so we thought nothing of it. When asked for specifics about what "working long hours" meant, the interviewers coughed and glossed on to the next question; now we know why.
Within weeks production had accelerated into a 'mild' crunch: eight hours six days a week. Not bad. Months remained until any real crunch would start, and the team was told that this "pre-crunch" was to prevent a big crunch toward the end; at this point any other need for a crunch seemed unlikely, as the project was dead on schedule. I don't know how many of the developers bought EA's explanation for the extended hours; we were new and naive so we did. The producers even set a deadline; they gave a specific date for the end of the crunch, which was still months away from the title's shipping date, so it seemed safe. That date came and went. And went, and went. When the next news came it was not about a reprieve; it was another acceleration: twelve hours six days a week, 9am to 10pm.
Weeks passed. Again the producers had given a termination date on this crunch that again they failed. Throughout this period the project remained on schedule. The long hours started to take its toll on the team; people grew irritable and some started to get ill. People dropped out in droves for a couple of days at a time, but then the team seemed to reach equilibrium again and they plowed ahead. The managers stopped even talking about a day when the hours would go back to normal.
Now, it seems, is the "real" crunch, the one that the producers of this title so wisely prepared their team for by running them into the ground ahead of time. The current mandatory hours are 9am to 10pm -- seven days a week -- with the occasional Saturday evening off for good behavior (at 6:30pm). This averages out to an eighty-five hour work week. Complaints that these once more extended hours combined with the team's existing fatigue would result in a greater number of mistakes made and an even greater amount of wasted energy were ignored.
The stress is taking its toll. After a certain number of hours spent working the eyes start to lose focus; after a certain number of weeks with only one day off fatigue starts to accrue and accumulate exponentially. There is a reason why there are two days in a weekend -- bad things happen to one's physical, emotional, and mental health if these days are cut short. The team is rapidly beginning to introduce as many flaws as they are removing.
And the kicker: for the honor of this treatment EA salaried employees receive a) no overtime; b) no compensation time! ('comp' time is the equalization of time off for overtime -- any hours spent during a crunch accrue into days off after the product has shipped); c) no additional sick or vacation leave. The time just goes away. Additionally, EA recently announced that, although in the past they have offered essentially a type of comp time in the form of a few weeks off at the end of a project, they no longer wish to do this, and employees shouldn't expect it. Further, since the production of various games is scattered, there was a concern on the part of the employees that developers would leave one crunch only to join another. EA's response was that they would attempt to minimize this, but would make no guarantees. This is unthinkable; they are pushing the team to individual physical health limits, and literally giving them nothing for it. Comp time is a staple in this industry, but EA as a corporation wishes to "minimize" this reprieve. One would think that the proper way to minimize comp time is to avoid crunch, but this brutal crunch has been on for months, and nary a whisper about any compensation leave, nor indeed of any end of this treatment.
This crunch also differs from crunch time in a smaller studio in that it was not an emergency effort to save a project from failure. Every step of the way, the project remained on schedule. Crunching neither accelerated this nor slowed it down; its effect on the actual product was not measurable. The extended hours were deliberate and planned; the management knew what they were doing as they did it. The love of my life comes home late at night complaining of a headache that will not go away and a chronically upset stomach, and my happy supportive smile is running out.
No one works in the game industry unless they love what they do. No one on that team is interested in producing an inferior product. My heart bleeds for this team precisely BECAUSE they are brilliant, talented individuals out to create something great. They are and were more than willing to work hard for the success of the title. But that good will has only been met with abuse. Amazingly, Electronic Arts was listed #91 on Fortune magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For" in 2003.
EA's attitude toward this -- which is actually a part of company policy, it now appears -- has been (in an anonymous quotation that I've heard repeated by multiple managers), "If they don't like it, they can work someplace else." Put up or shut up and leave: this is the core of EA's Human Resources policy. The concept of ethics or compassion or even intelligence with regard to getting the most out of one's workforce never enters the equation: if they don't want to sacrifice their lives and their health and their talent so that a multibillion dollar corporation can continue its Godzilla-stomp through the game industry, they can work someplace else.
But can they?
The EA Mambo, paired with other giants such as Vivendi, Sony, and Microsoft, is rapidly either crushing or absorbing the vast majority of the business in game development. A few standalone studios that made their fortunes in previous eras -- Blizzard, Bioware, and Id come to mind -- manage to still survive, but 2004 saw the collapse of dozens of small game studios, no longer able to acquire contracts in the face of rapid and massive consolidation of game publishing companies. This is an epidemic hardly unfamiliar to anyone working in the industry. Though, of course, it is always the option of talent to go outside the industry, perhaps venturing into the booming commercial software development arena. (Read my tired attempt at sarcasm.)
To put some of this in perspective, I myself consider some figures. If EA truly believes that it needs to push its employees this hard -- I actually believe that they don't, and that it is a skewed operations perspective alone that results in the severity of their crunching, coupled with a certain expected amount of the inefficiency involved in running an enterprise as large as theirs -- the solution therefore should be to hire more engineers, or artists, or designers, as the case may be. Never should it be an option to punish one's workforce with ninety hour weeks; in any other industry the company in question would find itself sued out of business so fast its stock wouldn't even have time to tank. In its first weekend, Madden 2005 grossed $65 million. EA's annual revenue is approximately $2.5 billion. This company is not strapped for cash; their labor practices are inexcusable.
The interesting thing about this is an assumption that most of the employees seem to be operating under. Whenever the subject of hours come up, inevitably, it seems, someone mentions 'exemption'. They refer to a California law that supposedly exempts businesses from having to pay overtime to certain 'specialty' employees, including software programmers. This is Senate Bill 88. However, Senate Bill 88 specifically does not apply to the entertainment industry -- television, motion picture, and theater industries are specifically mentioned. Further, even in software, there is a pay minimum on the exemption: those exempt must be paid at least $90,000 annually. I can assure you that the majority of EA employees are in fact not in this pay bracket; ergo, these practices are not only unethical, they are illegal.
I look at our situation and I ask 'us': why do you stay? And the answer is that in all likelihood we won't; and in all likelihood if we had known that this would be the result of working for EA, we would have stayed far away in the first place. But all along the way there were deceptions, there were promises, there were assurances -- there was a big fancy office building with an expensive fish tank -- all of which in the end look like an elaborate scheme to keep a crop of employees on the project just long enough to get it shipped. And then if they need to, they hire in a new batch, fresh and ready to hear more promises that will not be kept; EA's turnover rate in engineering is approximately 50%. This is how EA works. So now we know, now we can move on, right? That seems to be what happens to everyone else. But it's not enough. Because in the end, regardless of what happens with our particular situation, this kind of "business" isn't right, and people need to know about it, which is why I write this today.
If I could get EA CEO Larry Probst on the phone, there are a few things I would ask him. "What's your salary?" would be merely a point of curiosity. The main thing I want to know is, Larry: you do realize what you're doing to your people, right? And you do realize that they ARE people, with physical limits, emotional lives, and families, right? Voices and talents and senses of humor and all that? That when you keep our husbands and wives and children in the office for ninety hours a week, sending them home exhausted and numb and frustrated with their lives, it's not just them you're hurting, but everyone around them, everyone who loves them? When you make your profit calculations and your cost analyses, you know that a great measure of that cost is being paid in raw human dignity, right?
This article is offered under the Creative Commons deed. Please feel free to redistribute/link.
2004-11-15 03:36 pm (UTC)
What's Larry's worth?
Check out the link below:
I think the people working at EA should start a class action lawsuit!
2004-11-15 03:48 pm (UTC)
Bitch and Moan oiverpaid techies
go to mcdonalds or a factory, then back to your air-conditioned offices with free coffee
2004-11-15 03:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Bitch and Moan oiverpaid techies
You're an idiot that can't even spell you belong at Mickey D's. Maybe if you could string together a complete sentence you would be able to find a butter job.
|From: thewhiterook |
2004-11-15 04:16 pm (UTC)
Software Developers -- Not just game developers
I can sympathise. I work for a software company and I've seen these kinds of crunches quite frequently. Already I'm on a project with many developers booked for more time than they have. It was nice when we'd get compensated for this, but now salaries have been frozen and bonuses are few and far between.
2004-11-15 04:16 pm (UTC)
nothing will happen
Everyone is talking about "let's take a stand or strike or create a union, trust me, all you over paid jackasses have no back bones and won't do jack about anything.
2004-11-15 05:54 pm (UTC)
Not sure what jerkwater hillbilly town you're from but here in SF or LA where the poster is from I think costs of living are thru the roof.
Bah why am I bothering, you're probably one of those 59 million hicks in the flyover who voted for Bush.
|From: rhalin |
2004-11-15 04:24 pm (UTC)
EA Stock annoyingness
Kind of annoying to check stock prices today and see that EA has climbed up 2.1 points since falling a bit on friday - probably thanks in part to the brief coverage recommending EA as a trade on cbs marketwatch.
Anyone who has or used to have stocks want to visit these message boards and start asking questions about how the impending class action lawsuit regarding unpaid labor will effect stock prices?http://cbs.marketwatch.com/discussions/default.asp?siteid=mktw&dist=mboards
Any other stock site message boards would also be good places to post some links to the story.
Big companies seem to only understand one thing - hit 'em where it hurts, their pocket. I'd be nice if we could see some stock prices drop by the end of the week, and some mass-media attention start up. It might not happen, but its worth a shot.
2004-11-15 06:22 pm (UTC)
Re: EA Stock annoyingness
Try also voting on Lawrence F. Probst on Forbes using this link.
His reputation on here has been dire for months, and this sort of thing can only make it worse.
2004-11-15 04:50 pm (UTC)
New updates on 'EA Spouse' and 'Motivational Posters'
News is still spreading across the blogosphere. The more people that know, the better. :)
Other site's reporting/comments:
'EA Management Motivational Posters'
Wow. I thought my internal contract was bad .. and I've seen bad contracts.
I did at some point 70 hours a week at Apple, with California laws written contract in Europe, and the day before got paid I had 4 euros in my wallet .. due to project delays of 2 + months, and the project shortening from 3 months to 13 weeks...
So after all, a permanent job at Apple isn't that bad.
Cheers .. my work schedule is far far less hours now, less salary but .. easier to plan life with some certainties in it. Like knowing they will need you even in December or April and so on ...
|From: flyingtuck |
2004-11-15 05:23 pm (UTC)
90 Hour Weeks? Comp time?
Not to belittle it or anything, my SO is an entry-level associate at a law firm, and was told by a partner when he was hired he's expected to work a minimum of 90 hours a week with definite overtime, five or six days a week depending on case load. As a current TA and law-school student, I can tell you in the legal profession that's just about normal for any firm attorney.
When you only see the guy you live with on Sundays and Monday morning as you're both walking to the car, it gets rough, so I sympathize there, but the video game industry (maybe not EA, but at least the industry) is a step ahead if they're in the practice of offering weeks off in compensation. My SO got an entire weekend off after closing the last case, and was back to 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. the next Monday. Right now we're just hoping his vacation time comes soon.
2004-11-15 05:38 pm (UTC)
How much does your SO make? Is he salaried? Does he make overtime pay?
These are the issues.
It's about a company having the decency to pay for what they get out of an employee.
As for "comp time". This is not a guaranteed thing. It is something awarded at the whim of the company and often times is more of a teoken gesture (when the amount of hours worked by so many developers is taken into account).
How can this possibly be legal? How??
2004-11-15 06:21 pm (UTC)
In Related News
EA is about to take over the majority of shares at DICE (the studio behind battlefield), the DICE board of directors has already agreed, citing the raising costs of game developement for this "strategic" decision.
Unless the majority of shareholders at DiCE are the employees, we all know what will happen (can you say BattleField II - IX)?
My condolences to the working people at DICE and their families, as soon as EA figures out that European Labor laws are not as "flexible" as in the US, DICE will become an empty shell and get sucked, err relocated into the mother ship, as all the other studios before.
2004-11-15 06:25 pm (UTC)
Not even us doctors work this hard...
Very interesting discussion.
Being a norwegian doctor with an interest in computer games, i can share some research data. A receently published article in New England Journal of Medicine (N Engl J Med. 2004 Oct 28;351(18):1838-48 and 1829-37) Found that doctors working 34 hour shifts made 5,6 times as many mistakes in diagnosing patients than those working normal hours.
There's no reason why this shouldn't apply to computer industry workers, perhaps even more so as i imagine the work to be more repetitive. Game devs dont work 34 hour shifts, but crunch time with 90 hour-weeks is far worse when it goes on for this long. It is unethical, unhealthy, and at least in Norway, very illegal. It's also probably quite inefficient, because as described in the article and your post, more time is spent on error correction than on actual progress.
The chronic headache, mood changes and fatigue you describe is very dangerous indeed, (leading to burnt-out syndrome and for some, depression and suicide) and sadly becoming more and more common as labour rights are being challenged worldwide.
Go get'em, ea spouse,
good luck in an eventual class-action lawsuit.
|From: apothsis |
2004-11-15 06:27 pm (UTC)
Notes from the development end.
Long ago and far away, I owned a small game development shop. Our idea was to create in tandem, Board/Wargames, and a PC client/server (Like the CIV game translations, and the absolutly crappy "Politica" coming from Clancy Studios)
I even had some interest in funding from a "Japanese company to be unnamed".
(Didnt get it, but had a -lovely- trip *roll eyes*)
We all came from a university arena, knew each other, had the idea, I had the vision and the initial capital, While the development was going on, We did the rounds at E3 and the GDC, even shopping out to Origins/GenCon, and other traditional gamer type places.
Our base, however, was that "It gets done, when it is -DONE-". We could announce a title, but none of us wanted to get slammed by precomitting ourselves to a date, when the technology was leaping so fast, and we wanted to take advantage of new tecniques.
Did that bite us in the back? At the time, I thought it did.
However, seeing that the big 5 have CONSTANTLY blown major release dates, or even worse, sold what are essencialy BETA copies of crap, while they make you purchase the -bugfixes- seperatly as "Updates/addons", I still think that we took the most ethical route possible, and had we had more funding, I believe we would have survived.
We -ALL- worked insane hours. ALL of us, especialy since the design for the game was linked to each half. But almost -all- of us were also engeneers, and at the point where our output was outpaced by fixes, development *STOPPED* One day of rest equated to 11 days of relitive crap-free production.
We failed, not for the concept, but from the business end. Live and learn. Most of us continued on in our academic persuits, a couple went off to work for software development houses, one got offered a juicy gig at a game developer, and I went on to create a internet security firm.
But all of us still kept our ear to the industry, looking for a time to "Get the band back together again".
The way the industry is now, there is no possiblity to make a 1.5M+ financial layout PLUS a production schedule that requires at least 30 engeneers, artists, pre-and-post production staff...
And the way the engeneers, like your spouse, are treated...they cant ether.
I am sorry to say that your story isnt the exception...it is the rule.
2004-11-15 06:30 pm (UTC)
I feel for you.
Being a programmer with a family when ever I hear things like this it angers me to no end. I don't understand why companies think they can work any kind of computer programmer into the ground. After reading this I will no longer support EA games and if I want one of there games you can bet I will download it and they will never see another piney of my hard earned money.
I hope things end up better for you.
|From: bwingb |
2004-11-15 06:38 pm (UTC)
Re: I feel for you.
It's not just the programmers. It's the artists and game testers too.
wow, that is the most horrible thing i have ever heard of. thank you for tell me this, now i will never buy another EA game.
|From: stardreamink |
2004-11-15 06:38 pm (UTC)
I think boycotting EA's games is not enough. Gamers should boycott stores that carry them
EA has clawed it's way to the top of the game industry by following the tactic Trip the Jip thought up when he founded the company. Buy up and control the distribution channels. They've since expanded on that, and go with good ol' corporate America's favourite game of buy up and control the production channels too.
It might be possible for us to hurt them by also using the distribution channels.
Some of the larger retail chains may not want to be associated with carrying products produced in sweatshops. I've seen it work in the past, where large retailers stopped carrying goods made by child labour in Asia (or threatened to stop carrying them unless the company that supplied them revised their labour practices).
Maybe we can get people to put pressure on the large retail chains who carry EA products as well. Walmart. Electronics Boutique. Future Shop. Circuit City. You name it, any big company that carries EA game may not want to be associated with any press generated by the stand we are taking.
I went to the Walmart homepage and looked up the Feedback/Suggestions email form under Company Contacts this morning. I'd like all of you to do the same. Pick your favourite game retailer, and send them a letter expressing your disappointment that they carry goods manufactured under slave-labour/sweatshop conditions. Express your horror that this is happening RIGHT HERE IN AMERICA. (It happens in Canada too). North America is supposed to be a better place than this. As commented earlier in this thread, this is not just a problem in the game industry. It's in all industries run by large corporations these days. But we have to start making our stand somewhere.
And considering that the game industry is the second-largest entertainment industry in terms of sales, revenues and profit, it's a damn good place to start. Games are bigger than Hollywood, bigger than pro sports, and bigger than pretty much everything except the corporations that sell you the basic necessities of life (your gas, electricity and home heating). EA has bought its way to the top of the game industry.
If we're going to stand up and demand change in our society, let us start with Evil Arts. Let's make an example of them, and start the labour revolution.
Here's a copy of the letter I sent to Walmart expressing my disappointment and displeasure in them carrying goods produced under such inhumane conditions as EA employees experience daily. Send similar letters to your favourite game retailers. Post them on places that investors read before buying stocks. Some people that buy stock in companies are regular North Americans like us who have morals and integrity, and just some extra cash to gamble on setting up a retirement fund. Those are the kind of investors that are likely to dump stock in a company that contributes to sweatshops, slave labour, and employee abuse. Let them know what's going on.
Hi. Is it Walmart's policy to carry goods from suppliers who use child labour and slave labour to produce the goods?
I would like to complain about goods carried in Walmart stores that are manufactured under inhumane conditions from workers who are horribly exploited and taken advantage of in order to deliver products to your retail chain. This isn't right, and I expected better of Walmart than to partake in such horrible and inhumane practices by carrying goods produced in sweatshops.
I know most people expect this only happens in Asia, but there are companies right in the USA that are doing it too, and Walmart is helping them by carrying their products. I would like to request that Walmart stop carrying Electronic Arts products. I will not be shopping at Walmart so long as it carries goods produced in slave-labour sweatshops, and I will be asking all of my family and friends to do the same, until such time as Walmart takes steps to either pressure this supplier to start engaging in legal labour practices, or Walmart stops carrying their products and thus contributing to this horrible and inhumane abuse of American citizens.
Please read this heartwrenching plea by a spouse of an EA employee, and pass it on to whoever makes decisions in your company.http://www.livejournal.com/users/ea_spouse/
This shouldn't happen in America and Canada. It shouldn't happen anywhere, for that matter. And the number one retailer in North America should not be contributing to or encouraging this kind of mistreatment.
Thank you, and please take this complaint seriously. If we convince every gamer we know to join the boycott of EA products and stores that carry them, well... that's an extremely large number of people that might stop shopping at Walmart. 200 million people in the US alone play computer and video games. Even a small percentage of that number joining the boycott could impact your sales. Please take this matter under serious consideration.
didn't Walmart just get in a heap of trouble for forcing employee's to work unpaid overtime? I vaguely remember something about locking the doors so they couldn't leave the building....
That said, I think this isn't a bad idea. ;)
2004-11-15 06:56 pm (UTC)
You American programmers complain too much
Game programmers in Japan probably work 90/hrs a week and don't complain at all. Those in Korea probably work just as much.
Why do you think Japanese games are so good compared to the typical drek that American programmers crank out?
You guys may think this sort of slave-driving by EA is bad for people, but in reality it's the only way the American gaming biz can catch up to the Japanese.
|From: bwingb |
2004-11-15 07:12 pm (UTC)
Re: You American programmers complain too much
For a more genuine Image of Japan
Japan as it really is can be better understood from this exceptional article which was published in the International Herald Tribune of Feb. 9. 2001, comparing the societal differences of the U.S.A. and Japan.
Japanese are Perplexed by U.S. Views of Japan
By Doug Struck, Washington Post Service
TOKYO – The U.S. Treasury secretary, Paul O���Neill, said recently that he would urge Japan to improve its economy but that he would not prod. It���s more a question of “how do we help the people of Japan achieve a higher standard of living.” Mr. O���Neill said.
Although U.S. officials have been urging the Japanese for years to slow their phenomenal savings rate and spend their way back to a boom, the remark has some Japanese chortling behind Guccini gloved hands.
Noriko Hama, a chief economist at Mitsubishi Research Institute in Tokyo, said: ”It���s a bit bizarre to be talking about raising the living standard of this country. Japan is the largest net creditor in the world and is thus the richest country in the world. This is far from a country that needs its standard of living raised. If anything, because people���s standard of living is so high, they are a bit complacent about the economic situation.” Noriko Hama added that Mr. O���Neill���s view was “about a quarter-century old.”
The high living standard is clearly visible on streets crowded with shiny new cars driven by Japanese in expensive suits and dresses going to jobs where they will earn more, on average, than Americans. Japanese have higher incomes, more savings, longer lives and better health than Americans, according to a host of statistical indicators. And they work less to achieve it: The image of Japanese working themselves to death aside, the average workweek among manufacturing workers is five hours shorter than in the United States. American workers on average put in the equivalent of two weeks more work per year than the Japanese, according to the International Labor Organization.
Japanese also pay less of their salary to taxes. Workers give less than 12 percent of their incomes to the government; in the United States, the burden is more than 16 percent, according to the Bank of Japan.
And the Japanese say they get more services. Health care is virtually free; child care is offered at a modest fee for working parents. Every ward in Tokyo has a large public swimming pool, and every neighborhood has several playgrounds.
Japan���s public transportation system is probably the most efficient in the world: Tokyo���s commuter trains provide 21 million rides a day, and on average Japan���s high-speed intercity trains pull in within 18 seconds of their scheduled arrival time.
Proportionately more Japanese take overseas vacations than Americans – and they still manage to save money. While American workers spent more than they earned last year, the average Japanese family put 13 percent of its paycheck in savings. Japanese have banked $6.5 trillion in savings, according to the Bank of Japan.
The government here agrees with Mr. O���Neill���s goal of bolstering the Japanese economy, which has been sputtering along with little real growth for a decade. In the third quarter of last year, the economy actually contracted at an annual rate of 2.4 percent, the government said Thursday.
With the U.S. economy slowing, many economists had been hoping that Japan could absorb imports from Asia and elsewhere to keep the global economy humming.
I've always known that the games i play require tremendous amounts of work and time, but i had no idea that it was so bad.
I hope that your SO can find a better alternative to working at EA. Game developers and software programmers are artists in my eyes, and should be treated considerably better.
Best of luck in all your and your SO's future Endeavors
2004-11-15 07:53 pm (UTC)
more fun emails...EA managers suck
This was sent out 6 months before ship...shit, the game was just announced. It's even title "crunch definition"........
Sent: Tuesday, September 21, 2004 4:54 PM
Subject: Crunch definition
In an effort to get us all on the same page as to what is crunch… here are the MOH4 expectations going forward.
3 late nights a week. You choose ‘em. A late night is defined as a day that you leave after 12 or more hours after you arrive. If you get here at 10am then you leave after 10pm. And so forth.
The non-late nights will be defined as leaving 9 hours after you arrive. If you get here at 10am then you leave after 7pm. Just like the bank.
1 weekend day. You choose. Saturday or Sunday. If you don’t care then please come in Saturday. There will be some exceptions where we need key people to rotate their days so we have full coverage both days. Check with your DD if think that might apply to you.
Everyone out by 11pm. Working in to the wee hours of the morning only gets one thing accomplished: creates a fried developer who has difficulty being back by 10am and is anything but mentally sharp. Get out of here, get a good night’s rest and get back in here.
Let your DD know what your default late nights and weekend day will be. This will help ensure balanced development teams. We will remain flexible as special events arise. But hopefully your default schedule will remain so most weeks.
Finally, expect exceptions to this generic definition. We will continue to have exec demos and big end-of-milestone pushes where we will ask people to put in a little extra to get us over the hump. But, hopefully, those will be exceptions and the flexibility built into this definition allows you to maintain a better outside of work life.
That’s it. Please let me know if you have any questions.
It's crunch time? Deadline still a month out?
Time to quit and take the whole team with you, and detail why to the upper staff. If a game completely fails to ship, it will affect them financially, far more so than a simply end user boycott will. Explain that the stupid hours are unacceptable, and that it's over, and that's why everyone is leaving.
I sure wish I had done that when I was in this situation. It's hard to think that the money isn't worth it on 4 hours of sleep a night. In fact, it's hard to think of anything on 4 hours of sleep a night, so you go into zombie coder mode.
2004-11-19 12:24 am (UTC)
Everyone can quit. EA has enough money to hire more people who want to work for them and are young and desperate and love games enough that they will not care how abused they are on the job. They just hope to get a game cred on their resume and use the EA name to make a move afterwards. EA as a publisher can just extend their deadlines. Even if they don't release enough SKUs or whatever that quarter, they are still making bank, so their stockholders won't cry too much.
I've seen similar stuff happen at other game publishers. Even developers can extend deadlines. They just have to blame it all on the lazy workers who walked out on them...
|From: adeliedreams |
2004-11-15 08:59 pm (UTC)
Tiburon (Orlando, FL) and Engineers - any options?
I was both. I'm sure that there are plenty here that fall (or fell) in one of these categories.
On the engineering side, it's a bit harder. Especially if we're not in California, as we're considered professionals.
Even if we were just cogs in the machine.
I'm looking into what options we may have. Anyone interested can join me over at http://www.livejournal.com/users/adeliedreams/80750.html
or email me at email@example.com.
2004-11-15 09:02 pm (UTC)
It remains a valid question.
If this is true, I will certinly think twice before buying and EA game for a long time.
2004-11-15 09:16 pm (UTC)
It's sad to see all this whining here.
No one can FORCE you to work overtime. If you don't like it, you can quit at the first opportunity and find a job at the multitude other top tier game companies that treat their employees well.
Be a man. Tell your boss to go f&$# himself and get a better job. If you're really a bad-ass game programmer like you sound you are, finding a new job should be no problem.
You are clearly a moron. Have you even READ any of the other posts? It's so much more complicated than "they can't force you to do it." Stop simplifying and start THINKING.
2004-11-15 09:24 pm (UTC)
OH boo hoo hoo
"I look at our situation and I ask 'us': why do you stay?"
You know exactly why you stay. You stay because EA pays most of their developers in excess of 100K a year. Because working for a big name company like EA fills your ego and your resume and makes girls wet. Because you dig the nice workstations, the posh offices, and the cushy gyms and volleyball courts.
If you don't think it's all worth it, then just quit. No one is going to feel sorry for you EA guys.
2004-11-15 09:32 pm (UTC)
Re: OH boo hoo hoo
If you EA guys quit, can I have your jobs? I've been unemployed for 2 years and would trade my left nut to get an opportunity to get into EA. Even if I have to work 90hrs/week I can just work for a year and then quit, at least I'll have EA on my resume.