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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.

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From: goodfortheego
2005-06-14 09:05 pm (UTC)

Are all game companies like this?

I've been a gamer since I was 4, and I want to work in the industry. I know somone that is a programmer at EA, and it seems like he loves it, but that during crunchtime, he would just sleep overnight there, since the schedule was so crazy. Then again, he actually is allowed to work at home now.

Anyways, are all studios so terrible? I know crunchtime is inevidable, but are all companies so inhumane? I plan to have a family, and I want to be sure to ahve a life outside my work. Any info would be great. Thanks!
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-06-14 09:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Are all game companies like this?

well man, as you've probably figured out - there are no absolutes. Meaning there are people that like it at EA, there are people that don't. Same for Activision, etc and so on. But the fact remains that crunch period exist for many developers, mostly because the tech seems to be a moving target and publishing milestones are aggressive to take advantage of seasonal opportunities and hardware and console opportunities. Unlike the film business, gaming accounting is hard to figure out - meaning, it's not widely known how much a title cost to produce. So if a developer takes a bath on a title, it's not widely discussed. And with a studio with multiple titles under the roof, you can take a bath on Catwoman and still come out way ahead on Need for Speed. To make matters more complicated, these might be the same resources your applying to both projects, making the accounting a real mess. With developers that have one title to produce, it's easier to track the success. Film studios have long been savy to this and they are notorious for "creative accounting" - meaning depending on what your intentions are you can make the release be a profit or a loss. Games are going that way too, as the industry consolidates. Who is going to be able to afford to produce a next-gen console game anyway? Big developers and that's about that. The PC isn't that big a market share.

So where does this all lead? Hard deadlines, big profits and tight schedules. Since no one really has a handle on the tech and you're always competing to make sure your game is cooler graphically the next guy's, there's lots of pressure to get these titles on a shelf in a store.

Your best bit is to find some small low key developer and roll the dice. You'll learn a lot and have fun.

good luck
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From: afterdark50
2005-06-25 08:40 pm (UTC)

Rick Giolito--scoop on his whereabouts

What's the deal with Giolito? I worked with this moron at EA in Redwood City in the late 90s and again (unfortunately) in LA. Heard he went on "sabbatical" late last year and returned this spring. But he left, very recently. What happened to the bozo? Did he get fired? Leave for another job? Can't say I'll miss the guy--but I'll miss seeing his hot wife visit the office. She is smokin!
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-06-26 01:56 am (UTC)

Re: Rick Giolito--scoop on his whereabouts

I've wondered that too. Someone posted earlier that he's forming some new partnership with Skaggs possibly called Trifecta. Hopefully someone in the know will respond with more info.

By the way, what made him so bad to work with?
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-07-08 02:52 pm (UTC)

most excellent whine ever!

please bring your best whines and rants to: www.925m.com and be sure to add link to this best ver cry baby post! pls. thx nycat
digital ad addicts check: googles groups find: digital- advertising blog, whine rant preach away, no link back to here? post will be deleted. got it? go get your whine.
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-07-20 02:22 am (UTC)
so quit

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From: (Anonymous)
2005-07-22 12:24 am (UTC)

time to move on

this site is dead. It's over.
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-07-23 03:49 am (UTC)




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From: (Anonymous)
2005-07-24 12:09 am (UTC)


I thought your mommy said you could only post comments on this blog if they are intelligent?
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-07-24 03:16 am (UTC)

you can tell from the product

There are far to many comments here for me to read them all, so this may have been said before. But you only need to play a couple EA games to believe that this story is completely true. The games are rushed to the stores in time for Christmas or other deadline, and are unfinished (IE features stripped out) and full of bugs. Often a bug-fix patch begins being developed immediately after the release (or even before), they know full well the bugs are there and ship anyway.
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[User Picture]From: katsuyakaiba
2005-08-21 06:54 am (UTC)

Re: you can tell from the product

One word to support this: Catwoman
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-07-25 02:36 pm (UTC)

Unionise the workforce

I'd suggest that your husband and his workmate form a union. I'm certain that if you could get the actual workers that produce the game as a final product to form a union, then the industry as a whole would have to change, as they would lose their ready supply of victims for the grindstone.

Remember, it was unionism that destroyed Communism in Poland. It also destroyed oppressive work practices here in Australia. We have waiters that don't rely on tips to live, but on the wage provided by their employer.
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-07-25 10:48 pm (UTC)

Re: Unionise the workforce

by most accounts, it was Pope John Paul that is attributed for Polish solidarity and the gradual fall of communism in the late 1970's. Not unions.
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-08-09 04:24 am (UTC)

EA Spouse, how goes progress?

EA Spouse, with November three months away, marking one year since you posted your blog, was wondering if there has been progress and/or improvement with your SO's circumstances? Is your SO still working at EA? Can you give us an update? Thank you!
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From: ea_spouse
2005-08-10 12:24 am (UTC)

Re: EA Spouse, how goes progress?

Hi there. I can't give out specific information, but things are good and getting better. :) Thanks for your comment.
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-08-15 06:45 pm (UTC)

ea_spouse, I just learned about your family's inexcusable and ridiculous situation today through an article in the Toronto Star, a daily here in Canada. It was the front page article in the Business section, and after reading both the article, and your experiences here in your journal, it definitely sheds some light on the inhumane business practices that the industry, and specifically EA uses. I am not a game developer, nor even really a person who plays games 24/7 really, but just as a casual games consumer, I'm mortified by it all. If EA or any other game company reads this, I hope you realise that your employees' lives and the quality of that is INFINITELY more important than your bottom line of making money. If you gave them more time to do things and hired more people, morale would be higher, job loyalty would be greater, and you wouldn't have lawsuits or disgusted consumers knocking on your door. Respect the people who make money for you, and they will in turn respect you.

My heart goes out to all those who have to endure this type of abuse just to pursue a field that they are interested in. These companies should be ashamed of themselves.
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-08-16 10:56 pm (UTC)


Boy, you go tell them!
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-08-17 10:21 pm (UTC)

well said

good job, someone has to say something about things like this...
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-08-19 12:44 pm (UTC)

Disgruntled spouse

What a joy to find these comments- I thought there was only me who got angry about these Dickensian working conditions.
My husband has hardly seen his children at all in this 6 wk school holiday- this is having a detrimental effect on them. His health is being affected but mine too as I have suddenly become a single parent with responsibility for absolutely everything.
WHO has the right to impose these conditions for weeks on end?
6am-12midnight (and with a 90 mile round trip home) is surely illegal?
I wonder who will be able to stand up and make a difference, without ending up oput of work, because there are always more young people waiting in the wings?
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From: ea_spouse
2005-08-21 04:36 am (UTC)

Re: Disgruntled spouse

Depending on where you are, those conditions can most certainly be illegal. If you would feel comfortable, please contact me, there can be something you can do. The comments that have hit me hardest in all of this are the comments from families with children. These working conditions are why my husband and I have not had children yet, and I know we're not the only couple in the industry that has made a similar decision. We were waiting for things to get better, with both of our careers, but the thing is that you can't just wait for change... you have to effect it. There are places that realize how foolish it is to treat one's workforce this way. Please drop me an email if you're interested. =) ea.spouse@gmail.com .
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-08-26 07:11 pm (UTC)

EA doesn't treat their customers much better

They release buggy software, blame the bugs on the users and then ban in a guilty before innocent world. I'm a 40 year old woman who plays their Ultima Online game and had 14 account for many years and no bad marks, no history of exploits and they ban me because they claim I dupe an item that gets duped in a hidden place, and I didn't even know I duped it. Another 41 year woman was banned for the same thing. They simply don't give a damn, they are making their money, and sitting high on the hill and don't give a damn about their customers. I was no doubt their single best customer gerating over 10,0000 to them, this year alone and they ban me because they can't test their software.

If your an older woman I recommend you avoid their games because they don't seem to understand our interests, like building and designing houses, and will throw you out the door if you happen to do it more times than they think is normal to do.
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From: thecanadianicon
2005-09-02 04:00 pm (UTC)

Good To Hear Things Are Going Well

I'm happy to hear that things are going well for ea_spouse. Since it seems many game developers have read/are reading this journal I would like to ask something becuase I really want to enter the industry: Since EA is a terrible place to work, who would be better and what do I need to get a job there? I know UbiSoft Montreal is good but like BioWare and other Canadian developers they only hire experienced employees. Much thanks to any who can help and of course ea_spouse.
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-10-02 05:42 am (UTC)

Re: Good To Hear Things Are Going Well

I doubt things are much better at Ubisoft Montreal. I visited the place and it is this huge war room that would make Lister and DeMarco (authors of Peopleware) cry. You could apply for a junior position, game industry experience isn't required for those positions.
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-09-03 01:28 am (UTC)

EA's Corporate Shakeup

Details here:


and general news here:

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From: love_my_ea_boy
2005-09-14 07:01 am (UTC)

Its not any better

I was recently pushed, head first and blind folded into the EA world. The love of my life took a position with EA in the past year. It wasn't even 1 day into his time there that we learned exactly what the posting "EA Human Story" was about up close and way too personal. As we approach what seems like forever in this unrelenting slave drivers world I grow more and more distant towards my love. Not because I don't want him or hurt with him through this, but because I have lost all touch with him. When he comes home he's asleep in 5 minutes and wakes up 2 hours before me (only a short 4 hours of sleep for him). Countless family commitments have been missed. And a very very close member of his family has recently fallen ill and he is not allowed even half a day off to spend time with that person. This is unacceptable in my eyes. A company like EA is not above human decency rights. And why they seem to abuse their employees is beyond my understanding, but I will not let them win. There is more to life than a job. We are supposed to work hard so that we can play hard. Where is the play for EA employees?

To anyone reading this that is an EA employee...my heart goes out to your families and friends and I beg of you to just take one day to spend with those that love you. Those are the ones that will help you up when you fall and dry your tears when you cry. But if they forget who you are because you can't leave a building for one day, you will find yourself alone and with only the cold cubicle walls to comfort you. Is it really worth it?
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-09-14 10:15 pm (UTC)

Re: Its not any better

Out of interest, which studio is he working for? I work for an EA and although the working conditions aren't too bad, I am considering an internal transfer to another studio for other reasons. It would be good to know the studios/teams to be avoided.

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From: (Anonymous)
2005-09-14 03:54 pm (UTC)


What makes your spouse so special.
Why don't you have your spouse get a job with the local utility that I work for and then you will know what it is to have corporate walk all over you.
We work here for the money. We are good at what we do and enjoy it. The corporate thing is a way of life. If you don't like the shit sandwich, then get larger slices of bread or quit eating.
However, what goes around comes around.
That is why unions used to be effective but have lost their bargaining power because of our high cost of survival. The people panic at the thought of strikes. Everyone is so overextended that the thought of striking and not having any money gets people sheepish.
We have to be the strong people our parents and grandparents were. My dad went on strike when he was making $75 per week with a wife , 3 kids and a mortgage. He made ends meet.
What does your spouse feel? Continue or quit?
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From: (Anonymous)
2008-10-27 02:07 am (UTC)

Re: comment

You're a special person, you are. Continue or quit. Never challenge, no no no. I need money to survive and this is how I get it and that should be good enough for you and him and her and my kids, too. I am a well-behaved cog.

It's because of belly-crawling attitudes like that that big companies become greedy human-crushers, and it's because of belly-crawling attituded like that that allows them to stay that way. In effect, this is all your fault.

Mindless automaton.
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Re: comment - (Anonymous) Expand
[User Picture]From: doctorzaius
2005-10-05 10:22 pm (UTC)

Re: comment

Geez, and I thought Royal Caribbean was bad to its employees...

We can do better than this yet companies just continue to treat employees like crap. How are we supposed to evolve as a society when the companies that run us keep us down continuously? Enough of this crap of allowing companies to do whatever they want to their employees when things CAN and SHOULD be better that. Enough with CEOs making 500 times the amount of their employees when that rate used to be MUCH lower (in the double digits).

It should be FUN to make video games. People should stop thinking like capitalists and worry about socialist values once in a while... The ideal economy is in the middle anyway.
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-10-06 01:17 am (UTC)

OT Settlement

EA offers $15.6 million to settle the OT lawsuit:


This is just for entry-level artists. The programmers's lawsuit is still in the works. Good luck guys (and gals). ;)
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-10-06 03:56 pm (UTC)

Re: OT Settlement

Is the payout for California employees only or does it cover all of EA's studios?
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-10-08 07:02 pm (UTC)

We, the employees have lost, NOT EA.

I'm one of those EA Computer Graphic Artists whose job will be reclassified thanks to the recent settlement.

So some of you think that being payed hourly in this industry is good?
You are wrong. It's true we'll be compensated for overtime, but the remaining question is "how much overtime?".

We are creative people and the type of work we perform cannot be standardized and measured in hours. As developers work to solve problems and deliver results within deadlines. We work under a schedule, and our duties involve deep analytic and aesthetic decisions. We have to be productive, but we care about quality over quantity. Forcing us to work fast under a so called per-hour pressure will sacrifice the meaning of what a true software developer is in this type of industry.

Now that we are going to be hourly compensated, I foresee people being hired just to check how many hours and overtime we spend. And most important, HOW we spend our given hours. It'll be like working on a freaking retail store. I'm afraid I won't be able to go to the bathroom, swallow my lunch without heartburns, and most important, take time for family emergencies, because there will be a dude hired mostly to watch the clock over my back. Like in high-school, I'll have to play hooky if my kid is sick or in case of a home emergency.

Results and goals won't matter anymore. Hours will be the name of the game.

My stock options and the benefit of buying shares at discounted prices will be history. I've read articles stating that tech employees are no longer satisfied with this Silicon Valley stock tradition. They don't know crap!! I can say NO BANK can give me a minimum of %15 - %45 more returns on my investment, but again that will be the past.

Thanks to this settlement producers, artist and soon engineers won't have a word in EA. We'll be cattle and we won't be involved with Corporate life.

Developers, and I mean the real ones (not excel/paperwork based managers) won't have any vision or protagonism in the future of this company. Marketing will have all the goodies, still they just bla, bla and make false promises, but don't have a theorical or practical idea of how things are accomplished. Thanks to them and their (wise?) decisions we've shipped average and so-so products within short deadlines, with no time to polish or finish them properly.

From now on this Industry will praise the efforts of the people who is good in managing, marketing, PR and sales. They will get all the recognition for their verbal and written skills. In the meantime Rusty Rueff (VP of HR) will keep sending us emails with phrases like "we are making the best efforts to keep you happy because YOU ARE THE BEST OF THE BEST". And the media will think of us developers people with no character, ready to be used and thrown away. Why not? Our executives already think we are miserable dummies.

Your lawsuits and rants made this possible. I'm not blaming the fact that there was something wrong within the industry and someone like EA-Spouse and many of you had to vent and said a word about it. You are right in this point.

The problem is the outcome. They way that things have been solved and canalized. Lawsuits only helped make things worse for us.

This settlement applies to the HR categories Computer Graphic Artist I and II.
Many of us don't have a clue if we've been rated as CGA I, II, III, etc. HR keeps this information, and when you check for names on the company's directory, everyone (technical artists, animators, modelers, etc.) appear solely as Computer Graphic Artists. Nothing more. Who knows, they might put us all in the same bag.

I really don't want to claim my portion of the lawsuit. It's embarrassing, how much would it be? 5 or 10 bucks? Give it to charity! Plus I don't want to dirt my hands nor have anything to do with the people who ruined our vision and our self respect.

Jamie Kischerbaum's only concern was money. Not his quality of life, or his work environment. He is gone now, being an animator with salary over $70k and yet he whines. While many of us CGA hardly reach $60k. He might be celebrating in Honolulu, with now enough capital to start his own company or to start LIVIN' LA VIDA LOCA at the expense of the ones who remain at EA.

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From: (Anonymous)
2005-10-10 02:57 pm (UTC)

Re: We, the employees have lost, NOT EA.

Working late hours, weekends, holidays, and 80 hour weeks does not make you more creative. It stifles creativity. Being in a mad rush to cram in as many features as you can in an impossible schedule doesn't give you any time for any creativity. You will just have time to get the basics done before you rush off to the next thing. And all those hours will make you really tired which also destroys the creative thinking process.

We did not have much say at EA to begin with. Sure we can make recommendations but we were never able to make decisions. I've told managers time and time again that we need to cut some of our features so we can ship a solid game. Fewer features that are more polished and fun. But it never happens. That is because Marketing and Execs were already in charge and running the show. This was nothing new. Non-technical people that only care about getting their features on the box. They don't care if you have to work holidays to get it done. They don't understand that it will cause hundreds of new bugs and compromise the ship date. And that it will burnout employees causing them to make a mediocre game that they are not excited or passionate about.

You need to start looking out for yourself because EA does not have your best interests in mind. Sure maybe you don't mind 80 hour weeks for soda and pizza right now but in a few years you might decide to get married and have kids and then 80 hour weeks won't sound so appealing. Or you may just burnout in general. And if you start trying to spend less time at work, they will put the heat on you. They already have people checking what hours you work. Don't worry about that. And they know they can easily replace you with a new young kid dazzled by the big lights of EA who is ready to work themselves to death for no pay because they love video games.

If anything these lawsuits serve as a wakeup call to EA. To get their attention that something is wrong with the way they work. They aren't going to listen any other way. I agree that switching to hourly isn't going to make all the problems go away and is in some cases a worse deal depending on how the stock does. But ultimately we need to look at the core problems and this is the only way to get EA to do that.

I've seen so many good workers and friends burnout and leave. I want EA to be a good place to work and a place I would recommend to my friends.
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EA - (Anonymous) Expand
From: (Anonymous)
2005-10-17 06:29 pm (UTC)

EA just gave hubby the boot!

Well it has been a long 15 yrs that I have been sitting home alone waiting for hubby to come home after working 15 hour days. Not anymore! He was given the boot after 15 yrs of sweat as a programmer. Fair severance package - coulda been a little better. So much for loyalty! He rarely missed a day's work and rarely had a full weekend off. I'm sure his buddies are wondering where he is this morning. There was no announcement...just a thank you and we don't need you anymore. It's fine, he's happy as he wasn't enjoying working there anymore and I'll be happy to have him home.
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-10-18 10:37 pm (UTC)

Re: EA just gave hubby the boot!

which studio was he working for?
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From: devocean
2005-10-20 09:19 pm (UTC)

Respect is conquered, not begged for

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?
You must be kidding, right? It's like pleading with Mr. Stalin, while he calculates his percentage of the world domination, to think about the millions he sent to death.

Unlike in the USSR, modern day slaves can quit any day. No one can force anyone to work more than the latter wants. Was your S.O. chained to the galley's oars? Why keep swallowing insults? Why being so infantile and believe in promises?

Big companies should not care about human aspect of their employees - only the mission's outcome. They do their thing, and do this impeccably. They can't care about your dignity - it's YOUR primary obligation. Respect, as well as freedom, is never distributed evenly for free. Your share should be conquered. ¤
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-10-21 08:26 pm (UTC)

Re: Respect is conquered, not begged for

Blah, blah, blah ... what a laughable post!!

Do you steal candy from little kids for fun?
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-10-24 02:34 pm (UTC)

This happens in all software companies

This type of workers absue happens in all software companies. Even big companies like Fedex. They make work long hours and not paid usually its the immigrants fall prey to this kind of absue.
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-10-24 10:32 pm (UTC)

Re: This happens in all software companies

Let me know if you want to do something about it. I helped put together the EA lawsuit and I would be happy to do the same if Fedex is breaking the law.

Josh Pastreich
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-10-31 01:13 am (UTC)

Union Boycott

I am an union employee for the USPS. I have encouraged our unions, APWU, NLCA and MPMH to Boycott ANY and ALL EA games and products. There are roughly 500,000 members in my union of which I would say roughly 70 percent are either gamers or have children who are gamers. I hope this treatment of the EA employees stops and they are compensated for their abuse. I hope that the boycott I have proposed will seriously hurt EAs bottom line, but I doubt it will. My wife works in a union shop too and she is encouraging her employers 5 unions to boycott EA also. If all union employees boycott this BS maybe things will change for the great employees who actually make EA, not management. THEN and ONLY then will EA start producing a quality product instead of the crap that has been rolling out of their studios for the past few years. And as for those of you who say things such as "quit whining" and "that's just how it is in the game industry". Why don't you grow a pair and stand up for yourselves. you think your conditions are bad? How would you like to be doing the same hours and days at work in a steel mill or coal mine or some other industry that abused it's employees before unions got involved. I don't want to hear that unions destroyed the steel industry or the car industry because it's just not true, study the facts before you spout your BS. UNIONIZE!!!!
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-11-02 01:40 am (UTC)

I have an interview with EA tommorrow morning

I have an interview with EA tommorrow morning. I was doing research on the company, searched for "Electronic Arts Blog", and was lead to this. I'd like to thank the original poster for making the internet community aware of this. I've decided not to pursue a developer position at EA further.

Thanks again.
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-11-07 09:28 am (UTC)

Re: I have an interview with EA tommorrow morning

Wow that’s really powerful. By reading her blog u decided to not work for them... this is the power. EA is losing rep, gaining bad rep already. This is what I was posting about. The more and more people are educated and aware of the practices that go on the more people will learn to stay away from these type of crooked companies!

Who’s fault is it? The stalk holders the hr department…management… ultimately the employees for taking this type of crap and not having a backbone…

Best of luck on getting a job that that will treat you better.
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-11-07 09:23 am (UTC)

Readin alot of the above...

A lot of companies out there are like this, I’ve heard. I'm an art and design student with 2 years left. Lately I've been starting to learn to program c/c++. Hearing stuff like this is disappointing but nothing new. It a classic case of the big guys stepping all over the little guys. As with fresh college students coming out of the school, I feel that our lack of knowledge of the industry is what gets us taken advantage of. As college students we're happy to finally get starting on doing what we love to do, so much so with the passion and enthusiasm, we get ahead of our selves. Boycotting EA's Games won't help anything; they would just start paying their employ's less or just start firing people... It has to start with the workers themselves. Easier said then done... employees have to grow a backbone stand up for them selves and not take the abuse. Not just one, everyone... start demanding! If you have a room full of programmers and artists or engineers 30 or so lets say and one person say "F-it, I quit you can't do this to us!" he'll get singled out. But if you have all 30 say "we demand compensation and a day off or we all will quit..." they have no choice but to comply. That’s how you win, it’s extremely hard to do... it takes one person to stand up and have everyone one else grow a backbone and follow the leader. Like in those corny movies in that scene that’s exactly like what I just said. Where are they going to get 30 new people in time to finish the project???? A dime a dozen is myth that’s not what its like… nothing is a dime a dozen. Not anymore atleast! And the other thing with sending work over sea's... "You get what you pay for!" Cheap labor breeds cheap projects... I no longer buy Sony products anymore because of my experiences with some cheap products I purchased (3 pairs of headphones I had, my PS2 I bought, never buying a ps again… and some stereo equipment…all shorted out early, fell apart or randomly stopped working!?) for example... Another example, when people hire "day labor" down here in southern CA orange county... immigrants and such. They are getting what they pay for, inexperienced people to do a half-assed job! Tie that to college students coming out of school to work on games! Inexperienced half-assed work!

There will be a turning point! The game industry is mildly fresh and growing rapidly, it just has to go through these natural stages of development as a whole. There will be a day soon enough when it will balance out and things will change. It's just a matter of time. More people need to speak out and these things need to be heard and educated upon! Unions never salve anything; they just make things more complicated.

This quote really interested me…
“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.”

The ergo part!
“ergo, these practices are not only unethical, they are illegal.”
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