You are viewing ea_spouse

ea_spouse - EA: The Human Story [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
ea_spouse

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

EA: The Human Story [Nov. 10th, 2004|12:01 am]
Previous Entry Share Next Entry
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?

Right?


===

This article is offered under the Creative Commons deed. Please feel free to redistribute/link.
linkReply

Comments:
Page 47 of 52
<<[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43] [44] [45] [46] [47] [48] [49] [50] [51] [52] >>
[User Picture]From: genuinesmile29
2005-03-31 01:04 am (UTC)

Is there hope?

(Link)

I'm a seventeen-year-old high schooler on the east coast. All my life I've loved video games. Although I'm a little ashamed to admit it, I liked to go to other people's houses when I was little just so I could play (my parents wouldn't buy me a system). So naturally I've been looking into careers in the industry as I near college. Reading these entries has pissed me off as well as inspired me. I don't know a whole lot about business or the structure of the software industry, but I think it would kick ass to head up a company where the employee came first. Video games aren't about making money! They're entertainment, as well as art. I've never really been sure of where in the VG industry to insert myself, and I've got a lot to learn, but I certainly wouldn't object to creating an environment where video games, which I love and have been dear to my heart, could be grown, not manufactured.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-03-31 04:06 am (UTC)

Re: Is there hope?

(Link)

Same here. I live in NYC and is currently a second year in college majoring in computer arts. A while ago I heard EA NY is holding a summer internship session at my school (they do it every year) I was so excited but it collides with my 3D class so I couldn't go. Later I asked the seniors, and one of them told me:

"Dude, I'm fine with working for EA as an intern during the summer, they don't show you who they are there. But there is no way in hell that I'm going to work for them. I mean, 70 hours a week for 50k a year for the first 4 year totally sucked."

That's not the exact quote but it's close enough. Now hopefully I can find another video game company around NYC.
Re: Is there hope? - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Is there hope? - (Anonymous) Expand
From: dcdc
2005-04-01 03:25 pm (UTC)

typical in todays corporate greed based environment

(Link)

Wow, after reading this I don't plan on supporting a company like EA by purchasing any of thier products any longer.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-04-09 01:25 am (UTC)

(Link)

Here's a funny:

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/stories/2005/04/04/daily39.html

EA is listed as #66 on the "most ethical companies" list compiled by Business Ethics.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-04-09 01:27 am (UTC)

(Link)

More information here: http://www.business-ethics.com/whats_new/100best_2005.html

These people are on crack.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-04-24 02:32 am (UTC)

If You Don't Like It

(Link)

If you don't like it don't do it. Great games take time.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-04-25 08:37 pm (UTC)

Re: If You Don't Like It

(Link)

The point of this blog being, EA doesn't schedule enough time to make the games it makes. Instead of coming up with a reasonable 1.5-2 year schedule, it schedules games to be made in one year, and then forces the people to work overtime to fit the work within that time frame. Stop trying to give input on a topic that you don't know shit about.
[User Picture]From: un_known_artist
2005-04-26 07:57 pm (UTC)

Re: HOW TO COPE -- I used to work at Maxis

(Link)

How about we all acquire some Victory Gin and Victory Cigarettes. Maybe then mindless labor wouldnt be so horrible. Wait yes it would. Life imitates art.

Its companies like this one that is a major detriment to all others. They set the bar of slave labor and other up and coming companies think... "hey that seems like a good idea."... In turn they try the same and the rotation begins.

Its a sad day that companies completely disregard an individuals personal life (family, friends, TIME OFF, etc...) and expect you to become that lowly man working mad hours, sporting a pair of coke bottle glasses, working for little to no money and complaining about the loss of his stapler.
From: _wanderjahr_
2005-04-27 01:32 am (UTC)

Electronic Arts under Investigation

(Link)

Electronic Arts under Investigation

Tuesday, December 17th, 2004 Posted: 9:19 AM EST (1319 GMT)

REDWOOD CITY, CALIFORNIA (CNN) – World renowned human rights organization Amnesty International has launched an investigation against popular video game developer Electronic Arts, accusing the company of severe mistreatment of its development staff.

Known for its best selling Madden football series, video game production company Electronic Arts has been having an extremely profitable year, with hits like Battlefield Vietnam, its NBA and NFL Street series, and its annual reiterations of its classic football, basketball, and hockey series. Coming off a groundbreaking purchase of exclusive rights to the NFL teams, logos, stadiums, and of the NFL players association for the next five years, Electronic Arts was looking to establish itself as one of the dominant forces in modern day gaming.

Now, Amnesty International, an organization dedicated to unveiling massive human rights violations all over the world, partially credited for the investigation that led to the capture of war criminal Slobodan Milosevic, has launched its own independent investigation that wants to further explore rumors of Electronic Art’s treatment of its workers, specifically its development staff . As of this point, Electronic Arts has refused to assist in Amnesty International’s inspections.

Larry Probst, long time CEO of Electronic Arts, was sailing back to American shores on his private cruiser, returning from a recent visit to Eastern Europe. Mr. Probst reported as saying, “Amnesty International’s accusations are completely unfounded. For the sake of the integrity of our products, as well as for the well-being of the consumer, we are not allowing the inspectors to interfere with our highly secretive development process.”

When asked what Mr. Probst was doing in Eastern Europe, “Uh…I definitely wasn’t enticing starving families into working for me, then locking them in cages, and finally, throwing them in this ship’s brig to be sent to headquarters for slave labor. No, definitely not that.” When further pressed as to what was in his ship, Mr. Probst responded, “Not slaves.” After a series of barely audible screams and yells that were heard, seemingly coming from the bottom of the ship, we left Mr. Probst with one final question, “What the **** was making all that noise?!?” To that, he responded, “My stomach…?”

After revealing the contents of our interview to an Amnesty International representative, who chose to remain anonymous, was quoted as saying, “Well, we don’t really care. We’re just waiting for the CIA to stick the next Pinochet in another third-world country so we’ll actually have something important to do. It gets somewhat boring around here if you don’t have a war criminal to pursue. I usually spend most of my time touching myself. Where it hurts.”

It has been revealed that Michael Vick, quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, as well as the player featured on the cover of Madden 2004’s package, was one of the “whistleblowers”, whose firsthand accounts of torture on the part of Electronic Arts towards it developers, are the keystones to Amnesty International’s investigation.

“Yeah, I’ve seen these poor starving dudes all over their offices. These guys are underfed and overworked. Freakin’ twenty-six hour days they got over there. No lunch break either. If they don’t work hard enough, they usually get beaten with unsold copies of Medal of Honor: Rising Sun.”

CNN's Popi Sen in Albany, New York contributed to this report.

From: (Anonymous)
2005-04-29 12:26 am (UTC)

The Larry and Warren show . . .

(Link)

. . . coming Tues. May 3rd; EA is scheduled to hold its conference call with investors who may be curious about the falling stock, labor troubles, numerous shareholder lawsuits, etc. (Rumours are the call will happen tomorrow, Friday, April 29th):

http://biz.yahoo.com/cc/3/55463.html

At this link, Yahoo will keep the audio file for up to several weeks.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-04 05:13 am (UTC)

Re: The Larry and Warren show . . .

(Link)

EA said in the CC they are opening a studio in China


From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-05 01:04 am (UTC)

Looking for Interview Subjects

(Link)

Hi folks --
I'm the producer of The California Report, a statewide public radio news program that airs on NPR member stations in California.

I'm trying to get in touch with a few "disgruntled" or "not at all disgruntled" game developers -- whether programmers, artists, engineers, writers, etc. I'm interested in hearing from folks who feel taken advantage of, or from folks who love the demands of the job.

We're doing a series on Gaming, and one of the stories centers on Quality of Life issues. I need some information about what it's really like to be a game developer in California -- at a major publisher, or as an independent/freelancer.

I'd really like to hear from anyone who can articulately describe the quality of life in the "game development" world. If you have a perspective on quality of life issues, a unique personal story, or if you know of someone who does, it would be great if you could call or email me. We're on deadline, so I need to talk to folks fairly soon -- even a few minutes by phone will help.

(It can be off the record if you aren't comfortable actually having your voice on the radio.)

As an artist and a writer, I know what it's like to work extra hours because you are passionate about a project and trying to meet a deadline. Sometimes you get seriously taken advantage of, other times it's worth the sacrifice and you don't mind it. Whatever your position, I think it's important to get this story out there and I'd appreciate any information you folks might be able to share.

Our show is pretty reputable, which is why ea_spouse suggested we post here. We are very conscientious in our reporting. www.californiareport.org

Kindest regards,
Stacy Bond
415-553-2346
sbond @ kqed.org
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-06 07:29 pm (UTC)

Re: Looking for Interview Subjects

(Link)

From reading all the stuff here, they don't even get to drive home at normal time. So better try to catch someone who got away from that hell, or wife/husband of people working in EA. No, I haven't worked there, those are just logical conclusions.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-07 07:57 pm (UTC)

A better way to make games! See link

(Link)

No matter how much we hate EA, one thing remains: IF their way of making games is the best ,then they are right. No one wants to hear a bunch of whiners. Most of people thinks that we just want more money or more fame. So the point on which we should base our crusade against them is by letting everyone know that there IS a better way to make games. I think that every project manager and every game programmer should see this link:

http://enginesofmischief.com/blogs/ramblings/archives/2004/11/11/643
From: soul_intrusion
2005-05-09 03:21 am (UTC)

Not everywhere is like EA

(Link)

I used to work at EA, I left just a couple of weeks ago. From what I can tell at my new company, and mind you I haven't been there long, things are run MUCH differently. There must be about 4-5 people from EA who came over withing 2 months of me. EA is losing talent, there is no doubt about it. How they will overcome this remains to be seen... but I heard rumors of a crunch in preproduction, if you can believe that. Wow. Did I ever make the right decision by leaving that place.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-23 01:15 am (UTC)

Re: Not everywhere is like EA

(Link)

I left EA recently too and even though I'm still new to my current company I can see a major difference in the quality of my life. I love my work again and making games is fun! EA will continue to lose good talent, but they will have the largest pool of interns to make their games. GO INTERNS!
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-09 05:52 pm (UTC)

(Link)

Jesus. This article has actually brought tears to my eyes. My husband has literally just started at EA today.

Not thinking happy thoughts.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-09 07:16 pm (UTC)

(Link)

Good luck, hon. As the wife of someone who works there now (and he's planning on leaving within a few weeks), there are going to be times of sheer hell. Sure, there are times when he'll work a regular schedule, and you'll think, "Hey, this isn't so bad," but once you get into a real crunch schedule, it's going to suck big time. Hope you don't have any kids, because they won't see their father during that time period. I'm very, very glad that my husband is leaving soon -- crunch time on his current project is going to be starting within a month or so, and it's fully expected to last well past Christmas.

It is possible to survive working at EA -- my husband did it for several years. It's not something I wouldn't recommend long-term, because it IS detrimental to your health, your marriage, and your sanity; do it for a few years, get some stock options, and enjoy the relatively large salary (I say relative, because it's not enough to really get by in California, and certainly not enough to buy a house)...cash in those stock options when the getting is good, and then get the hell out of there. That's what we're doing, at any rate.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
hang in there - (Anonymous) Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-10 04:45 pm (UTC)

a small piece of advice for people involved in class action lawsuit

(Link)

Someone said that the loudest of those involved in class action lawsuit will probably recieve some sort of perfid punishment from EA. Well how about this: make shure that no one appear to be the loudest. Try to make everybody say something about EA abuse instead of 1-2 people. You should never tell which one of you is the leader or who started this.
Someone said that your salary in EA is about $50000 a year. Since you work 70 hours per week that means that you are paid about $12 per hour. Did you know that MINIMUM salary in New Zealand is $10 per hour? And minimum means that even ice cream sellers can earn more. And you people are high educated professionals!
And I realy think that you should form union. Someone here is suprised that it is much better to invest in companies like EA than work for them. What did you expected? It is hard to find people willing to invest in your company, but you do not need to even bother finding people to work for you at all becouse many people will crawl trough a sewer to have chance to develop games. If you form an union everyoune will se that you care about yourselves.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-15 11:56 am (UTC)

Re: a small piece of advice for people involved in class action lawsuit

(Link)

a union is no use. you are forgetting that there is a revolving door in the industry. There is no shortage of computer science majors wanting to work for EA.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-13 04:50 am (UTC)

EALA changes?

(Link)

What happened to the MOH and Rogue Agent EPs after their latest games were poorly received? I read that Skaggs is on leave of absence. The EP for the upcoming MOH console is different, so are they making EP level changes in LA or is that just because the PC and console productions overlapped?
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-16 09:00 am (UTC)

Re: EALA changes?

(Link)

everyone is secretly looking for other jobs or starting something on their own....

Re: EALA changes? - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: EALA changes? - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: EALA changes? - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: EALA changes? - (Anonymous) Expand
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-13 06:45 am (UTC)

EA

(Link)

I always liked ESPN NFL Football games better anyway ;p
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-17 04:14 am (UTC)

EA's "fix" to the class action lawsuit

(Link)

Heh. This is good.

Former salaried employees are now being moved to hourly. The new required work week is 45 hours, 5 of which are overtime by law. Cool right? Wrong. Those are 9 hour days. If you take a PTO day, guess what? 9 hours, not 8. PTO hours did not increase. So your 3 weeks of vacation/sick/personal time (15 8 hour days, 120 hours) just became 13 days.

But wait! There's more! Let's go back to the PTO day you want to take... Now you have to put in 9 hours, right? Well 45 - 9 is (big surprise) 36 hours, right? No big deal, right? WRONG. In order to get overtime for those 5 extra hours, you have to work over 40. So the week you take a sick day, you not only loose an extra hour of PTO time, but you loose your overtime for the 5 hours.

Well, no big deal right? WRONG. Your new hourly rate is your salary accounting for 5 hours a week of over time. Take a vacation day, give yourself a pay cut. Take 3 weeks of vacation, loose 5% of your base salary those weeks.

But you know what's worse? You are still expected to give "free" overtime if you go to E3... Oh and your tasks? Still must meet your milestones -- you just have to do it in 45 hours a week now.

What's even worse? EA killed bonuses this year, despite have 3.2 billion cash, no debt, etc. "We didn't make Plan" (But we were still flush enough to buy three companies, a 15 year exclusive NFL contract, and 20% of UBI in the last quarter -- oh, yeah, the same quarter when we "lost" so much money.) Some people got 50% of their target, a lot of people "didn't contribute materially to EA" and got ZERO.

EA's a great company. If you don't think so, bend over, Uncle Larry's coming over. It's the EA Way.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-18 04:16 am (UTC)

Re: EA's "fix" to the class action lawsuit

(Link)

Given this is EA's reality, the incentive to stay is what ...?
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-17 08:46 pm (UTC)

(Link)

Hell, I wish I had gotten 50% of target; more like 20% for me. And that's for 1000 hours of overtime in the past year, and the project I worked on sold well above target, but because the company did shitty overall (supposedly), I get shafted. It's good to know that if I work my ass off, I'll be appropriately rewarded...
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-18 09:55 am (UTC)

I'd take 20%

(Link)

Hell, I would love to have had 20%. I got 0% with an above target review. Why did I get 0%? I'd love to know... Evidently the work that I was hired to do, and did for the studio over the past year with full approval of my managers was not a material contribution to the studio. Oh, and I was not told any of this -- I had to find out all by myself, just like everyone else who was singled out for a 0 bonus. Ah well. It's the EA Way.

Who knew I should have been reading web pages all year like my teammates who got full bonuses? Strangely, I thought I was there to make great games and to add novel technologies. I guess ready webpages for 9 hours a day is what I should have done, since my 'peers' who did so all got some bonus, and some of them got 100% of target.

I've learn my lesson though. I've stopped wasting the studio's time and am now working on a whitepaper: ESP Management: How to generate loyalty and trust in your employees by screwing them out of $20,000 and completely isolating them.
Re: I'd take 20% - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: I'd take 20% - (Anonymous) Expand
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-19 06:11 am (UTC)

HELP! Job offer from EA

(Link)

I recently interviewed at EA and got a job offer with them. I was hoping to get advice so I can make a decision as to whether or not I want to work for them. I was wondering if there have been any changes/improvements to the situation since this article was posted half a year ago? When I spoke to the recruiter, she promised that your husband's situation was an exceptional case of horrible mis-mangement and especially now with the publicity, the company is taking drastic measures to make the working environment a better place. Does anyone know about that working environment now? Has the company taken any real steps to keep from overworking their employees? I'm definitely interested in the job, but not in the conditions that you described here. Any advice out there? Especially from people that currently work at EA? Thanks so much.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-19 06:25 pm (UTC)

Re: HELP! Job offer from EA

(Link)

I work there now and I am quitting in a couple of weeks. Everyone who was semi-decent on my team has quit within the past 6 months. Bonuses were very small or non-existant this year. I know in my own team, things have not changed at all since this EA Spouse thing hit the fan -- we're already horribly behind schedule for our project, and crunch will be starting next month, and expected to last for several months. Considering that we didn't get any sort of reward for last year's crunch (i.e. any sort of bonus or stock options) I'm not expecting it to be different this year.

Anyone who has any talent is running from EA -- they're now being forced to hire substandard talent, or those that are desperate, or just out of school. Many of the people on my team right now are not "gamers" and yet here they are making games; there's something wrong with that picture. The days of EA being a "game company" are long gone. They're a corporation now, in it for the stockholders, churning out substandard games based on movie and professional sports licenses. If you want to work at an innovative company with strong talent that recognizes your hard work, I'd look elsewhere.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-22 08:53 pm (UTC)

Did EA 'Challenge Everything" at E3?

(Link)

How did EA fare at E3?
From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-26 01:31 am (UTC)

Re: Did EA 'Challenge Everything" at E3?

(Link)

I think they faired pretty good, based on Spore, Black and Battlefield 2. Madden looked damn good on next gen consoles, but that was expected, Madden is a great game. I didn't hear a damn thing about MOH:European Assault so we'll see how that goes when it hits the market. Batman Returns will be good if the movie is a hit. I like the casting.
From: john_kim_mimi_w
2005-05-26 06:21 pm (UTC)

2Wire

(Link)

I use to work at 2wire and it's not any better.
This company promised stocks, going public in 8 months and the whole kit and poodle.

What happened after 1.5...They fired me.
I put in a steady 60 hours a week and a 90 minute commute for 1.5 year and they dropped me like a boat anchor just to cut cost so that the CEO Brian L. Hinman and CFO George W. Laplante could use company credit cards on escort services on erosguide.com and cityvibe.com

How do I know that they see escorts?
Well I placed a spy wear on their pc and I snoop the ip address of their frequent visit sites and those two are constantly disappearing between the office hours of 10am to 2 pm. A perfect time to cheat on your wife because she think they are at lunch or in company meeting.

One time, I saw George walk pass the hall ways and their was a condom stuck on his shoe. I did not want to tell him because i was afraid that he would fire me. Anyhow, they fred me so now I am free to say what I want to say.
From: ravidrath
2005-05-31 07:03 pm (UTC)

Probable EALA Layoffs Tomorrow...

(Link)

http://www.kotaku.com/gaming/gossip/ea-to-layoff-employees-leave-cali-update-105191.php

http://www.kotaku.com/gaming/business/ea/ea-update-2-nipping-things-in-my-bud-105291.php

http://www.kotaku.com/gaming/business/ea/ea-layoff-rumors-part-3-105340.php

It's just rumor, now, but if EA Irvine and the Medal of Honor team are let go tomorrow or in the near future, I suspect the rest is true. It makes sense, and fits their corporate personality. Additionally, EA execs are known to be major Republicans and someone actively contributed to the Bush campaign, so such arrangements with the already business-friendly Governor of Florida are not so far-fetched.

A very nice, Wal-Mart-esque sort of move on their part. Don't like the employees unionizing? Close the store. Don't like the state's labor laws? Move out of the state.

It amuses me how people think EA is safer and more secure than working at a smaller developer, because it's big. Sure, the company may never have to wonder where their next project is coming from, but you will always need to wonder if you will be on it.

-Peter
From: (Anonymous)
2005-06-01 08:16 pm (UTC)

Re: Probable EALA Layoffs Tomorrow...

(Link)

Now that's very interesting. I'm glad I got the hell out of there recently.
From: whoa_keva
2005-06-04 05:50 am (UTC)

I can't relate...

(Link)

Wow! I'm totally blown away by what I've read. I'm tangentiallyinvolved with development in a very different setting. I do mostly sysadmin stuff but occasionally get to write custom environmental control software and generally get high praise for it. None of that remotely prepared me for what I've read today.

Will I get hung from a tree for saying that I never work more than 10 hours in a day and very, very rarely more than 40 hours a week and when I do I get comp time? And I'm not the only one, a good friend of mine is a sysadmin at a white knuckle manufacturing firm, he sometimes shows up for work on Saturday...I just can't relate to these descriptions of work (hell), it's nothing like I experience on a regular basis. I would never, ever, in a million years for a million dollars a day work at a place 1/10 as bad as what EA_Spouse has described.

I guess my point is that while I feel awful for EA_Spouse I have to wonder why they do it. EA clearly sucks and they really shouldn't treat their employees like that, but on the other hand, they have to love the money or else they would have left a long time ago. EA_Spouse's SO could go to a trade school as an electrician, carpenter, plumber, you name it and probably blow those blue collar kids out of the water. He'd be making $25 an hour in no time. Or... they could move to a smaller town, hook up with the local gov't or a small comany and make 60K a year administering a network but have every weeknight and weekend off. What's that? You couldn't ever think of a blue collar trade, below you? You could never leave the big city or the fancy suburbs? Well, I guess you're asking for it in some ways then. There's no excuse for what EA is doing, that much is clear but there are alternatives for bright people.

There are tradeoffs to everything in this world. I haven't worked a non-voluntary weekend in 7 years but my truck has 200,000 miles on it. EA_Spouse is put through hell but (I'm hoping) she/he drives a fancy car and, more importantly, really likes that car.

I'm not a cave dwelling communist and I'd be a liar if I said that money isn't important to me or that I don't work hard (most of my friends think I'm the YUPPIE who works too much) but I'd never sacrifice my wife or freedom for a job, any job.

Gotta go now, it's Friday night and I've got to get up early tomorrow, we're going backpacking all weekend long... I just hope the truck makes it to the trailhead.

From: (Anonymous)
2005-06-05 09:40 pm (UTC)

Re: I can't relate...

(Link)

And again, someone who hasn't read the whole article carefully. She says at the end of the article that they ARE leaving. As has everyone else who can. The only people working at EA now are the desperate people who can't get work anywhere else. EA is working with substandard talent right now, and I personally have a feeling (a hope?) that it's going to hurt them in the long run.

Most people have taken a pay cut to work someplace else, with better hours, better managers, and better overall situations. That still doesn't excuse EA for being such a shitty place to work -- they're one of the biggest game companies out there; work situations that are expected in small companies that are just trying to get by -- and where a lot of the attitude about how "That's how game making is, suck it up and get used to it!" comes from -- it makes sense in the small places. It does NOT make sense in a large corporation like EA that has the financial wherewithal to not require ridiculous hours without compensation. That's what a lot of people are bitching about, along with the fact that they blatantly LIE to people when they are hired about what is expected of them, and how they will be compensated.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-06-07 07:09 am (UTC)

(Link)

All too true in this industry. I've been with an Activision developer for over 2 years. I'm very fortunate to be working in this particular company but still, the crunch time is horrible. My boss, fortunaly, has a good work ethic and cares more about his employees than the corperation - giving us comp time at the end of the project and pretty hefty bonuses/profit sharing. Unfortunately, the going rumor is that Activision does not like this and will most likely be fired or demoted to a lesser position because of this. Sad that these corperations treat genuinely good people like crap. On to the overtime, I'm currently working 70hrs/week to for 4 months to finish this project. Now I feel my health deteriorating and am seriously considering leaving the company in the next few months. It's not worth risking my health for the chance of getting a bonus that's now rumored won't even come. Activision tried to push on us a mandatory 14 hour workday/6 days a week on us, but my boss, fighting on our side has coerced Activision from forcing our company to work those hours. Sadly our neighbor, another Activision company in the building next to us, is now forced to work that same 80+ hour/Week schedule. Most of the people in my company I've talked to said they would walk if we were forced to work those hours. Many people in my company, including myself, are currently on the search for a new job, some even looking for work in a different industry. As much as I love working on video games and seeing them sell millions of units worldwide, it's just not worth it to be under constant stress and getting sick every month.

I'm not married yet, but I do plan on having a family and having a life out side of work. I've seen too many times dads never getting to see their kids grow up and marraiges in trouble due to the fact that my co-workers rarely go home at reasonable times.

To add insult to injury, my team lead (a good guy - we get along well) has pretty much sold his life to this project. He's always nagging me about the amount of hours I work, yet every day for the past month, I've been at the office before he arrives in the morning and is gone long before I leave. The hypocrit. He has no right to nag about my hours.

I'm also seeing that I cannot keep focused for even short amounts of time. The work I'm currently doing is extremely tedious and bothersome and I'm finding myself unable to keep focused. If I was working a normal 40-45 hour week with weekends off, I'm sure I could double or triple my efficiency. Now I must trudge day in and day out feeling burt out in the morning and worse in the evening, only to repeat this cycle endlessly. I had to work a similar schedule 2 years ago and had a mental breakdown at one point. This time around I'm mentally much stronger, but the physical stress is what's causing me alarm. My stomach is perpetually upset, sometimes to the point of feeling quite naseuous. Not to mention being able to spend less time with friends, etc.

As much as I like working on games, I hate having to go through this cycle ever year or two. I'm hoping I can find another job where I can continue to do 3d art, but still keep my sanity.

From: (Anonymous)
2005-06-09 10:51 am (UTC)

I'm Disgusted

(Link)

If anyone over at EA actually bothers to read any of this all I have to say is as a customer I'm utterly disgusted with your treatment of your employees.

And if you don't think it'll effect you, or that your customers don't care then your CEO isn't fit to run a sweet shop, and don't tell me he didn't know either, and if he didn't he still wouldn't be fit either way.

And if the shareholders are watching I hope some high up's ass's go shooting out of the pervebial cannon for it, you should be ashamed.

As for the poster and her family all I can say is life is too damn short, and no matter how much you may love what you do, and I understand this from working in the industry myself for 20 years, it's simply not worth it.

A spot of public humiliation and shaming is in order.
From: ingozi
2005-06-11 12:40 am (UTC)

you're all missing the bigger picture

(Link)

People, people, people! can't anyone see the forest through the trees?
While I definitely agree that EA is too big for it's britches in treating it's employees like dirt, it really isn't any different on the majority of levels as any other money hungry corporation. The problem though is not the corporation itself, nor it's managers, nor the CEOs...It's us...everyone - it has been all along. Now that the economy is slowly collapsing in on itself (inevitably) and we've all gotten so used to our high and mighty lifestyle, why is anyone even surprised that abuses like this are happening? Sure the company cares about money - that's what it's designed to do. It itself is a slave to the shareholders - the banks - the private investors.. All want THEIR money. We are all guilty of this. Look at the society we live in. We are a service oriented society. How f&$#@#* long do you think a service oriented society can thrive before it succumbs to the natural rules everyone's been ignoring oh so blissfully? Well, not too damn long as you can see. If you think that this is somehow going to get better, that EA or for that matter ANY corporation is going to suddenly develop little powder coated tutti fruity angel wings and treat those that are still blind enough to work for them like heroes...WAKE THE HELL UP! Our way of life isn't going to get better until it is put down like the gigantic greed infested capitalist pig that it is. But oh, why am I so negative - I must be some idiot, some anti-american, some moron right? Well maybe, but even that doesn't change the facts. Open your eyes to the real issue here - look beyond the gripes and whines and accusations, and ask yourself, "how did we get here?" Better yet, ask yourself while standing in your 500 sq ft bathroom with it's 3 sinks and separate shower and bath with jacuzzi, or in your brand new gas guzzling SUV's lighted driver's side vanity mirror, or while gazing at the reflecting waves of your swimming pool.....All bought on credit. Then again, I doubt it would do any good - after all, it's not real your fault right?
From: (Anonymous)
2005-06-11 01:04 am (UTC)

Re: you're all missing the bigger picture

(Link)

Don't much such generalizations. I don't own an SUV, or a 500 sq foot bathroom, or a swimming pool. I recycle, eat vegetarian, buy environmentally friendly products, and do everything I can to make a difference in the world, on both a local and global level. Not everyone working at EA or for a corporation chooses to live the lifestyle you're portraying.

Pray tell, what is YOUR solution? I agree that a lot of the problems in today's society can be laid at the feet of ALL of us, but spouting an anti-capitalist diatribe doesn't actually fix anything. Come up with real, workable solutions, and people will take you more seriously.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-06-11 06:43 pm (UTC)

Now I know for myself.

(Link)

Working at EA, I can see that management does in fact build unrealistic schedules by under staffing their teams as a standard practice.

EA, instead of getting the proper staffing, relies on their hard working dedicated workers to make up the lost time, causing their team members to sacrifice their home/personal lives.

Making a unrealistic schedule and not hiring the appropriate amount of people to get the job done is just plain irresponsible.

Why aren’t the correct number of workers hired to accommodate the over ambitious schedules?

The only reason I can come up with is money.

If this is the case, in the end everyone will loose for the sake of the all mighty dollar.

The EA workers will loose time with their friends, families, and put their health and sanity in jeopardy all for the sake of a video game.

The consumer will also loose as well. Buying out your competition only to take a franchise and make minimal updates every year due to a development cycle that only allows enough time to include the bare minimum feature set can only work for so long.

EA is already showing signs of more innovative titles cutting into their profit margins. It looks like in the long run even EA might have a few losses of their own.

A small solution to the bigger problem.

EA has a huge wealth of talent/experience to pull from. They are probably on of the few companies out their that could really use their manpower to make everyone’s life easier.

Right now it seems since we don’t have the proper tool set to get the job done everything is being done by brute force.

In my mind there needs to be a way to share and reuse the work done by the various teams that form EA. There needs to be a unified engine that everyone should be using. (Renderware..... where are you?)

Renderware should become EA’s new next gen graphics engine.

If all of the teams in EA were writing to one engine then any tool, code or art assets could be shared amongst the different teams.

There are a few companies out there that are already making game development easier for companies by selling the graphics engine’s.

ID’s Doom 3 engine, Epic’s Unreal Engine and Valve’s Half Life 2 Engine are already making an impact on how game development is done in the next gen era.

Not having to write your own graphics engine every time you make a game will free up your team to make more innovative features for your game and not eat up all of your time just trying to get the basics in.


Reuse of assets.

If teams were able to reuse assets then EA could build an EA model, texture, animation, tool and code bank.

A unified human model could also be made that could be used to build a clothing and prop system for. Then any shirt, pants, shoes etc. built for game A could be used in game B, C or D.

There has even been research done on this very topic, it was even partially funded by EA.

http://grail.cs.washington.edu/projects/digital-human/

A realistic human in a football game is the same as a soccer game, hockey game, basketball game, baseball game, spy game, fighting game etc., etc.

I say work smarter, not harder.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-06-11 06:57 pm (UTC)

Re: Now I know for myself.

(Link)

That's weird, because Alain Tascan of EA Montreal emphasized, during a presentation at the Montreal IGDA chapter, that one of the keys to EA's success was the reuse of assets. The example he brought up was the grass in Madden, which is the same as that in LOTR.

Are the working conditions better at EA Montreal, or other Montreal studios such as Ubisoft?


-- A Montrealer
Page 47 of 52
<<[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43] [44] [45] [46] [47] [48] [49] [50] [51] [52] >>