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NYT on EA Games

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the save-a-buck-or-two dept.

Businesses 651

The New York Times has a story investigating the EA Games accusations that we reported on before. They use the phrase "toiling like galley slaves" to describe EA's programmers, and note that EA has a formal policy of hiring young, naive people who are willing to work long hours for low pay.

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Quit your job Micheal (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10882912)

Thanks!

Re:Quit your job Micheal (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883138)

How is this flamebait? Michael is the most gay of the ./ moderators (excluding CumTaco, CowboiKneel, Homos and the ugly little piece of dogshit whose name I always forget).

most companies? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10882915)

"EA has a formal policy of hiring young, naive people who are willing to work long hours for low pay"

Isn't that how most large companies work?

Re:most companies? (5, Funny)

Random_Goblin (781985) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882945)

nice to see that the new york times is keeping up with last weekends UserFriendly [userfriendly.org]

Whose fault (4, Insightful)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883105)

Who is at fault here, the company for paying low wages or the people for accepting them?

Re:Whose fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883141)

Only the State obtains its revenue by coercion. - Murray Rothbard

Where do you live? I'd love to move to a place where there's no crime at all.

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10882916)

What? No FP?

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10882919)

Text Text

WE GET IT (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10882922)

For the millionth time, yes, bad EA, poor workers, revolt against your masters. Yay communism.

Redundant (0, Flamebait)

andywebz (794668) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882926)

Let's get a +5 Redundant on this article, stat.

Whatever (1, Insightful)

andywebz (794668) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882951)

Label it a troll if you like, but I'm just tired of reading the same stuff over and over again here. I think there's been an article every time another publication picks up on this story. Is this necessary? I don't think so.

You must be new here (2, Funny)

heptapod (243146) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883038)

This is Slashdot.

Re:Whatever (4, Insightful)

HolyCoitus (658601) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883115)

Slashdot is a lot about the discussion. The blurbs are obviously short, and the people hardly read them. The topic is brought up and the meat is in the comments. I, personally, keep reading these articles to gauge the response on the issue and see if there are any opinions about it that are unique. I'm actually rather torn on this subject. Understanding both sides of the argument, it's interesting to read for me.

Since these are being posted, I have a feeling others feel the same way. These discussions most likely get a lot of hits.

how is that different from other companies (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10882927)

uh, mcdonalds, walmart, etc

Re:how is that different from other companies (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883011)

Ummm, McDonalds and WalMart both pay overtime, most software companies don't.

Re:how is that different from other companies (4, Insightful)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883193)

how is that different from other companies

Umm, you work at mcdonalds/walmart while you goto school, you dont make that your career.

The problem is EA is abusing people who already worked their way up. This is a multiBILLION dollar company paying less than other companies in the same market. Its the black sheep of the entertainment employment.

Re:how is that different from other companies (-1, Troll)

nwbvt (768631) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883211)

Because they hire people who expect to work hard for their paychecks. Programmers are often (not always) young spoiled brats who have never had to lift a finger in their lives and thus expect to get huge paychecks to sit at their desk staring at a computer screen.

Surprise Surprise (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10882929)

Gaming company exploits it's workers by making them work long, hard hours. Who didn't see that one coming?

Come on, this is the gaming industry. It's like that EVERYWHERE. The young are easily coerced into working longer than their more mature counterparts would be.

IMO attention needs to be paid to this, but with the government's complete hatred of unions and workers rights, somehow I don't see anybody even telling the corporations off.

Re:Surprise Surprise (2, Interesting)

skids (119237) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883074)

Dude, you are seriously bumming me out, because it was like that at the job I just quit, and now I'm looking for a new one. Thanks a bunch :-)

Actually though, you're totally right. Sometimes I try to tell myself that later in life when I'm too old and tired to work like I do now, and in some middle management position, that I'll be greatful it's like that. At the same time, I have to wonder whether things are getting better, or worse, over time. Certainly we are now headed for four years at least of an employment market that wants labor to be as cheap as it can get, fie on the consequences.

Re:Surprise Surprise (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883223)

I learned a long time ago after some stress induced health problems that work should not be the focus of your life. Work hard at what you do 40 hours a week, then go live your life. It's true you may have to work extra hours once in awhile, but it happens. Don't fall into the rut I did and ruin your health, it's not worth it. Employers that routinely demand a copious amount of extra work from you do not deserve to have you as an employee. There are, in fact, companies out there that do take care of their employees and care about their well-being. 3 that I can think of off the top of my head are medical tech companies like Medtronic, Boston Scientific, and Guidant. I know people that work at all of these places, they take care of their employees, don't overwork them, and they get a ton of perks. Us humans do not live that long, why spend 2/3 of your life working? You should work to live, not live to work.

Re:Surprise Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883129)

but with the government's complete hatred of unions and workers rights, somehow I don't see anybody even telling the corporations off.

Boy, that's so incredibly naive. Government workers get far far more benefits than any union could dream of.

Re:Surprise Surprise (3, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883208)

"IMO attention needs to be paid to this, but with the government's complete hatred of unions and workers rights, somehow I don't see anybody even telling the corporations off."

I hear the a lot but frankly the people I know that worked in unionized places hated the unions. They could not get promoted even if they did a better job because they where there less than other people that did a crappy job. The hatted paying the dues for basically nothing. My only personal experience with unions has been at trade show. Having to some smuck $200 to watch me plug in an extension cord. Lets not forget about the link between organized crime and the unions.
What people do not seem to get is the reason union membership is going down in the US is many workers do not want to be in a union. The UAW has tried to unionize Honda and has failed and has tried to unionize Walmart and failed. If the majority of workers wanted it then it would happen.
For the people that do not know how a "union shop" works if you work there you MUST join the union. You MUST pay the union DUES. You have no choice in the matter.
What really needs to be done is to enforce the labor laws we have. It is not illegal to require people to work more than 40 hours a week. It is illegal to not pay them overtime. Somehow computer programmers got exempted from this rule. I see this as an issue. I would prefer to fix the laws and enforce the ones we have than to force unions on the workers.

Good (5, Interesting)

cookiepus (154655) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882938)

has a formal policy of hiring young, naive people who are willing to work long hours for low pay.

Isn't that good? People often bitch that no one will hire you unless you have some industry experience, and how are you going to get that if no one hires you without it?

As long as they make good games, I'm fine with it. (1)

dj42 (765300) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882955)

Hehe. Keep 'em coming.

Re:Good (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10882984)

And within a few weeks of work you become a angry me first programmer. It's the last thing industry needs to do with it's young stars.

Re:Good (1, Insightful)

osgeek (239988) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883026)

No kidding. If you raised wages, EA would have to use less programmers to get a given job done, produce inferior work or have to charge higher prices. Then when a bunch of Korean/Indian/Chinese workers started producing higher quality games for less money, you'd have to hear these exact same whiners go on about how we're outsourcing.

When will people learn that the globally competitive environment isn't going to provide them the cushy existence for little work that their grandparents got. Get over it. Learn to compete and quit whining.

Re:Good (2, Insightful)

bairy (755347) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883134)

If you raised wages, EA would have to use less programmers to get a given job done, produce inferior work or have to charge higher prices.
Why's that then, are they short on cash?

When will people learn that the globally competitive environment isn't going to provide them the cushy existence for little work that their grandparents got. Get over it. Learn to compete and quit whining.
Yes but there's a difference between perhaps asking an hour or two here and there, and, if the stories are to be believed, asking for 80+ hour weeks for several weeks on end with no overtime pay.

Re:Good (1, Informative)

guyjr (180613) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883145)

Then when a bunch of Korean/Indian/Chinese workers started producing higher quality games for less money, you'd have to hear these exact same whiners go on about how we're outsourcing.

Uh huh... name one, just one, game produced in Korea, India, or China that has sold more than 100,000 copies in the U.S.

If anybody's worried about the game market moving overseas, you need to tune into reality. Repressed societies do not foster the kind of creativity that have produced some of the best selling games _ever_ - namely, Grand Theft Auto, Halo 2, Warcraft III, and The Sims. Jesus, half of the U.S. thinks that GTA should be banned outright, and it's still possible for a game like that to succeed here. You think it would even be possible to imagine a game like that in China, where the government is _closing_ all the internet cafes where people are playing games _far_ less violent? I don't think so.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883220)

You didn't know Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomarow was prduced mainly in Korea? I think allot of the work done on Tom Clancey games are mainly being done in Korea now. Yes...it sucks...I used to be in the game industry and I got out about the time this stuff was happening and man does it suck.

Re:Good (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883182)

What's wrong with the company settling for less profit instead of cutting costs? Then you get a high quality product from a stable workforce, and beat the Korean/Indian/Chinese workers on quality, and profit increases then. Oh wait, that won't start paying off until a few quarters down the road, so it must be a bad plan.

Re:Good (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883029)

When I started in my first job I worked unbelievably long hours BY CHOICE. I wanted as much experience as possible as fast as possible, and got it. It's served me very well.

If I was entering the industry today and had a crack at EA, I'd be first in line to take on those crazy hours for 'low pay'.

Take a close look at what that 'low pay' is. It ain't so low.

Re:Good (5, Insightful)

PoderOmega (677170) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883127)

If you are refering to the $60,000 not being low it is all relative. In Chicago 60k is a decent amount, but is totally not worth it if you work 80 hours a week a week. I don't know what the cost of living is by the EA offices but I'm not sure it's not the same as bumblef*ck, iowa. And you figure that $60,000 / 80 hours * 50 weeks in a year (assuming 2 weeks vacation and holidays in there), you are only making 15 bucks an hour (plus benefits). I guess it is your opion of 15 bucks an hour worth it considering your only free time involves sleeping.

I was going to say the same thing (0, Troll)

DoorFrame (22108) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883114)

This policy is a GOOD thing. If you're looking to start out in an industry, you should expect to work long hours for little pay when you first start. If you don't like that, you can always look for work elsewhere... but guess what, everyone WANTS to work for EA Games. People know what they're getting into, I don't think there's any trickery involved.

People, if you don't like your working conditions, especially people as highly skilled as computer programers, you should find yourself a new job. Or find an avenue for promotion at your current job that you would leave you with less lengthly responsibilities.

Re:Good (2, Insightful)

_archangel (30213) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883163)

Except you are screwed if you do not get in right out of college, when you can afford to work the long hours for only enough pay to sustain yourself. If you have even a few years of non-games programming experience or a family to support, then you cannot afford to do it. Most people in this situation are effectively barred from the industry.

I knew it (1, Interesting)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882940)

I wonder if EA employees envy the jocks they went to highschool with. It's a strange paradox.

Chicken Run (5, Interesting)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882942)

In a chicken farm, the owner doesn't really care if there's enough head room for the chicken, or whether they have enough exercise or eat healthy food. The owner only wants these chicken to grow fat, fast, so that he can put them out on the market as soon as possible.

What happens when one of the chicken complains about the living condition, maybe by mean of fasting-protest (so that it doesn't grow fat enough in time)? Well, the owner will just find another chicken to replace this naughty one, because there are so many more chicken hatched and ready to grow.

What if this bad chuck told 999 of his mates to do the same? Well, in a farm of 3,000, the owner will simply replace these 1,000 bad apples as long as the rest still grow fast enough, and the 1,000 replacement grow even faster to make up time.

What about the free range chicken? Well, they have found a good owner, who has a consumer market that demands free running healthy lean chicken. With that demand that the owner cannot ignore, he's set to exercise his chicken, offer plenty of land for them to run about and feed them only the approved corns.

Re:Chicken Run (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10882970)

For times liket these I wish there was a new rating

Score:1 ,What the Hell?!

Wait, wait... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10882988)

This is slashdot, analogies are too complicated. Does this mean game programmers are chickens? Hmmmm...

Where are the eggs??? That could solve some very important nutrition problems in the cubicle...

Wait, ew, gross... eating your own eggs??

OK That's great, now I don't think I can eat dinner tonight. BTW, do chickens in cages get to leave to go to the bathroom? Because that would be gross if workers couldn't leave a cubicle to do that. But, the way some cubicles smell, maybe you couldn't tell the difference...

Re:Chicken Run (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883168)

What does it matter?

Both chickens still die.

Slaves (1)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882948)

In related news, EA is moving to China

Low pay? Atleast they get paid unlike OSS people (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10882950)

And we the corporations thank you saps for toiling away at free code.

As an IT Guru (5, Insightful)

cybrthng (22291) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882966)

I hope the NYTIMES keeps hounding on these issues. While i'm not a Game programmer I am a consultant and I get shafted left and right with abuses of power like this.

The *ONLY* thing that keeps me from working even more insane hours is to adjust my billing rate - and that is almost a catch-22 - surely to limit my hours but surely to get me replaced in the long run.

I do Oracle financials, database and applicaiton server stuff. Its not just gamers, but "IT" in and of itself.

Part of my issue is the H1-B workers don't have family here or bust there arses off to get enough money to go back home and retire early, so they don't have many qualms about the workfload.

I don't see it as differences of trying to be a lazy american as much as other corp heads see it, i just see it as i'm busting my arse off to have a family life at home.. you know, pay my bills, buy my family dinner, pay my mortgage and have some cash left over to entertain and put my daughter through college.

So please, NYTIMES, keep it up. Do your investigative research even further. Don't pull a fox/cnn/cbs/nbc news report and have it end at that - show the world what gets taken forgranted and show the world that us supposed "white collars" aren't necessarily all living it up high and dry doing nothing but pointing fingers like many assume.

What really disgusts me is that people get treated like this and there is no "thanks". Work late hours and stay in a hotel? non-expensable, have a cell phone or pager they bother you on? don't try and expense it. Get stuck working remote? good luck expensing it. Just isn't what it used to be in taking pride in your workers..

Good luck EA employees - i'm there fighting for ya and WITH YOU!

Re:As an IT Guru (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883064)

Yeah, let's blame it all on the H1B's.

Re:As an IT Guru (1)

cybrthng (22291) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883136)

Glad you can generalize that much. H1-b sponsorship is just part of the issue that many IT people get held over there head. As a borne American its the politest way of saying that non Americans are willing to put "us" into the bind that holds these people such as in EA because there are people willing to accept it as "defacto".

Its a shame on IT managers, project managers, hirring staff and the people putting the load on H1b's but its also a shame in people willing to work there life away making it common practice..

gotta love "salary" positions and IT staff being excluded as management folks

Re:As an IT Guru (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883156)

Dude, if you improved your spelling and grammar you'd likely earn more.

Re:As an IT Guru (0, Flamebait)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883177)

I hope the NYTIMES keeps hounding on these issues. While i'm not a Game programmer I am a consultant and I get shafted left and right with abuses of power like this.

Oh, please, spare me the 'woe is me' crying. Companies owe you NOTHING. Absolutely NOTHING. Presumably you are an adult. You, as an entity, enter into an agreement with another entity to trade labor for money. No more, no less. If you think there should be more than that, then you are simply living a fantasy.

I hate to be so harsh, but seriously, grow up. Your employer is not your parents. Take some responsibility for your own life. If you don't like the way the ledger balances with whoever you are doing business with, then find someone else. It's just silly to act like you are a victim in the whole thing.

Re:As an IT Guru (2, Insightful)

osgeek (239988) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883180)

Wow, you're trying to get the most money from your employer and they're trying to get the most work they can out of you? Horrible. Call the NYT right away.

What? You say that some sorry ass Indian is coming here and taking your job? How dare he try to leave a dirt poor country with living conditions that you couldn't even begin to imagine and try to provide a better price/performance solution for potential employers that you were doing your best to gouge. The gall of some Indian guy taking a pay check that he's most likely sending home to relatives who might not even have food. How awful for you and the comfy expectations you had for an easy life with high pay and modest work requirements!

I've been to India and I've seen the dirt and filth a lot of these guys have clawed their way out of to get educated and get to the US. It makes me ill that small-minded whiners take such pains to keep them down so they don't have to work as hard.

The good news is that they might as well be whining about a hurricane headed their way because this global competition thing has just really begun. It's going to change the world like the Industrial Revolution did, and no amount of hand wringing is going to stop it.

You might as well save your breath and spend your time figuring out how you're going to compete in this new global environment. I know I have.

professor's puff piece (-1, Flamebait)

Karma Sucks (127136) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882968)

I haven't RTFA, but I hope they blasted that professor's puff piece on EA and decimated his credibility as an academically-honest researcher.

Quality (5, Insightful)

FiReaNGeL (312636) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882971)

EA strategy seem to be : produce lots of expansion packs / sequels / add-ons that require no or little effort to implement, and throw a bunch of willing-to-work-hard newcomers at it, 'fire' them (if they don't go first) so you don't have to pay them more for experience (etc), and repeat.

The Sims 1 and 2, with their gazillion expansion packs. Simcity 4. Sports games (Football, Hockey, Soccer, Basketball edition 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, oh god I must buy the 2005 edition!) Recently, NFSU2, which is (in my opinion) less polished / fun, even if its a sequel. Easy money. These game sells year after year, you only need to add a little content and a 30$ price tag.

Clever business model I guess.

Re:Quality (1)

bairy (755347) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883183)

I'd certainly agree with that. The 7 sims expansions were practically the same code but slightly modified for whatever the theme was. NFSU 2 is, practically the same undercode only expanded some. Hardly a rewrite. I don't know anything about the sports games but I should imagine they're pretty similar to the predecessor. And everything sells at new-game price. It's a clever business model simply because it seems to work. And it's the poor bastards they slav... er, hire that have to repeat this crap.
The worst bit is because they have high staff rotation, the new peeps coming in have to learn all the old code, I suspect if they kept staff on longer it would take a lot less time to produce new expansions/upgrades. It's a pity management don't have common sense like that

Re:Quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883189)

People are STARTING to catch on.

The game is about the same as last years version. Not a WHOLE lot different.

Then when they go and try to trade in what WAS a 50 dollar game last week, and could get 30 dollars. Is now a 5 dollar in store trade in. They will stop buying this years version for a year and 'skip' one year.

Thus ending the cycle. Now you buy last years version for 7 bucks and most stores will be GLAD to have you take them as they probably have a stack of em. Then next year when the new version comes out snag 'last' years and you have saved about 80 bucks...

In fact tell your friends...

3DRealms: (1)

Ligur (453963) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882972)

Are you getting this?

as always with the NYT (0, Flamebait)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882975)

Take with a grain of salt. I say this not becasue I disagree with the accusations but becasue the NYT has a tendency to editoralize or fabricate news.

Re:as always with the NYT (1)

bladx (816461) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883001)

that's a good point

but then again, if the claims are true in general, isn't this like what apple did in times, to get their OS out the door? probably not to the same extent, i'm just rambling. but i've been wondering about EA over the past few years.. when i look at ads for Target or other shopping places, i see a lot of the console games with the blue EA logo on them, like a monopoly

Re:as always with the NYT (1)

0WaitState (231806) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883124)

NYT has a tendency to editoralize or fabircate news

Care to back that up with some facts or links? Just what in the story might be fabricated?

Re:as always with the NYT (1)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883192)

ever hear of jason blair and his supervisors? that and boston globe which is the local division of NYT had a hand in the forged bush national guard memo story.

Re:as always with the NYT (1)

jxyama (821091) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883229)

>ever hear of jason blair and his supervisors? that and boston globe which is the local division of NYT had a hand in the forged bush national guard memo story.

care to explain how those two incidents are "a tendency to editoralize or fabricate news", as opposed to being isolated ones?

Employers need to measure passion for the job. (5, Interesting)

skids (119237) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882976)

I can't help but get the impression that the way it got like this, regardless of the companies, is that the managers came from an environment where they had a bunch of extremely enthusiastic coders who really were hyped up on their projects, putting in volunteer extra hours because they liked what they were doing. Then they assumed that that's just how coders are, and that they could come to expect that from them.

Maybe this is just wild speculation. But perhaps managers need to be taught to recognise voluntary additional work as just that, and not to count on it in the future -- especially, not to work it into their business models and work flow charts.

what else is new? (4, Insightful)

MrLint (519792) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882991)

I don't want to directly comment on the EA issue, but why is anyone at all surprised about these kind of accusations?

Companies have long histories of over using and abusing employees. Its the primary reason unions exist. Would anyone need to collectively bargain if they got good hours, decent and safe working conditions?

Following the Cheney-Rumsfeld Misadministration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10882993)

"toiling like galley slaves" to describe EA's programmers, and note that EA has a formal policy of hiring young, naive people who are willing to work long hours for low pay."

is just a constraint on the policy "keep the wage floor low"
promoted by your lamer-in-command "President" George W. Bush [whitehouse.org]

F%ck the f#cking Republicans,
Kilgore Trout

Sounds like Arthur Anderson... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10882994)

...or many other consulting firms. Hire them fresh out of the frat, work them to death in the crappyest positions and pay them next to nothing. They use the on-the-job training in some enterprise software package and are soon using these positions on their resumes to move on to greener pastures or lucrative independent contracting. I'm sure EA has the same cache' for these gamers who use these slave positions to get better jobs as they move up in the world. If you don't like your job, get another or make your own.

glad I didn't get that job (3, Interesting)

voya (582627) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882998)

Having gotten through all the rounds of interviews for a game developer position at EA -- I am really glad that in the end it went to a dude with a Ph.D. with more experience than me.

I was interviewed in Toronto for a position at the Vancouver (Burnaby) studio. I am glad I didn't get that job.

The reason why they recruit young grads is because we are naive. I was naive. Afterall, it was my dream job at the time, an illusion now shattered.

No room to complain (1, Interesting)

jpnews (647965) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883004)

These guys are starting at $60,000 a year? I wonder how many of them have degrees. If so, are they really all that "young"? And this new EA complainer is married? He's hardly a "young adult," he's a goddamned man, with a job. And wow, his stock options are only going to be worth $120,000 if he stays for four years? That's rough. He should STFU.

re: long hours. So what? The author of this article obviously doesn't know that there are waiters and painters and salespeople working similar hours and making less than $30K with no benefits whatsoever.

Sounds like a case of hard work with good rewards. Obviously, this is a big problem.

Yeah, 60k a year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883014)

And he'll die at 40 due to stress and overwork.

Doesn't sound that great to me.

Re:No room to complain (5, Insightful)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883076)

$60K isn't a lot if you're living in a major urban center like Silicon Valley--it's only a little more than $30K in the sticks. And the $120K in options is only good if EA's stock price *quadruples*, something that's totally unlikely; the actual amount will end up being more like $30K, which, spread over the four years it takes to vest, is less than $10K a year.

So what we're really talking about here is about $70K/year in a high-cost-of-living environment for 80 hour weeks in a highly skilled environment. You're right, things could be a lot worse, but they could also be a lot better. My salary's around that, and I only work 40 hours a week.

Re:No room to complain (1)

compass46 (259596) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883082)

Yes, a wonderful job... If you want to have no life except for your job and not enjoy what "rewards" you have reaped.

Re:No room to complain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883098)

"his stock options are only going to be worth $120,000 if he stays for four years"

That is if the EA stock price quadruples, which it is not likley to do. More then likely, they might be worth a few grand at most. As for his 60K a year, for pulling in 82 hour work weeks, thats $14.xx an hour for his time. I know my time is worth more then that.

Re:No room to complain (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883125)

re: long hours. So what? The author of this article obviously doesn't know that there are waiters and painters and salespeople working similar hours and making less than $30K with no benefits whatsoever.


They dont give stock options for low paid programmers. They dont get any of the stuff a .dot com gets, except the hours.

And as for Hardwork, journeymen workers make better than 60K with OT. Dont use the fast food industry, the starting jobs as the end all of jobs. You work your way up to the higher paying jobs, unless you like cleaning floors for a living, you dont get to complain about the people who goto school working 2 jobs, working at .dot bombs to work in an industry that normally pays for the skills and talents you worked years for. You work/claw your way to the top, you dont settle for the low end jobs and complain. Well, maybe YOU do.

What a very n00bish view of the American work system. Now you STFU.

Re:No room to complain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883144)

You clearly have no idea what the cost of living is like on the west coast. In places (like SF where EA is), the cost of living is at least 50% more than most other places west of New York. $60k is barely the median income. Normal houses are between $500k and $1,000,000 while rent can easily top $1,000 for even a modest one bedroom apartment.

And for the record, artists, waiters, and sales people are not in the same skilled range as programmers. You don't need a college degree to wait tables, sketch in your art book or sell supplies.

Are you going to bitch and moan about Highschool kids starting at $10 at In & Out Burger chains in California, too? Sure, if you're in hicksville, that sounds a lot. But again, when the cost of living is 50% more (at the least) than most of the rest of the country, it's not rally worth it.

Re:No room to complain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883179)

Sounds like a case of hard work with good rewards. Obviously, this is a big problem.

It is! Liberals want good rewards without hard work! That's why they're in favor of taking away, via taxes, from people like the developers at EA.

Re:No room to complain (1)

Krid(O'Caign) (766854) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883206)

Mod parent down. -1, Grouchy

Need for Speed Underground 2 (5, Insightful)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883008)

You know EA is just a factory when you play Need for Speed Underground 2. The Cingular "messenger" logo is on your screen all the time, a box pops up to tell you what song is playing and who made it, and there are at least 100 billboards in the world AND racetracks with ads for Autozone, Eclipse, and Cingular. There's no love put into the game, you can tell.

Re:Need for Speed Underground 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883130)

So? What big city isn't like that? There may be no love, but what game has love now a days? Locomotion does, but thats an extremely rare nearly-single-person-developed game. I think a lot of you need to stop being so synical. Ads in games? So what. Its no different from driving your car to the store to get the game.

Re:Need for Speed Underground 2 (1)

Zen Punk (785385) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883235)

Its no different from driving your car to the store to get the game.

Then why the fuck would I get the game?? I don't play games to experience reality, ya know. I could go outside.

Re:Need for Speed Underground 2 (1)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883172)

You play a game to escape from the world. If I wanted the real world I would go jack some asian dude's Civic and go for a joy ride.

Re:Need for Speed Underground 2 (1)

bairy (755347) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883210)

I partly agree but you have to remember that it's a car racing game where you frequently top 100/150mph, you hardly have time to concentrate on the ads, although yes there are a lot of them.

I suspect it's more that the coders were keen to make a good job of it for whatever reason, and the ads were put in under order.

sweatshops (2, Insightful)

jxyama (821091) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883010)

(mostly, but not exclusively) college students have managed to come together and hold considerable influence on improving the working conditions of sweatshops that sponsor their school, ex. Nike and many schools it sponsors.

can the gamers come together to influence the EA situation?

Re:sweatshops (1)

nyekulturniy (413420) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883056)

Gamers could try to force better conditions from the companies they work at, but they aren't interested as a whole in the social issues. They are playing games, and EA provides them with games they like. They won't.

Has the lot of the average coffee or cocoa grower improved with the Fair Trade movement? No. It has for some, but the odds are like winning the lottery.

Best Quote EVAR!! (5, Funny)

JamesP (688957) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883025)

This suggests that it needs to conduct a survey to learn whether a regular routine of 80-hour weeks is popular among the salaried rank and file.

Next, EA will be conducting a survey to determine if employees like to be fed poison, being impaled or imolated...

Re:Best Quote EVAR!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883176)

5 bucks says it WONT be anonymous either...

And this surprises us because... (5, Insightful)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883028)

With the -rare- exception, companies will squeeze their employees for the most they will give for the least pay they will take. We wonder why unions are still necessary? Because companies don't look out for employees' interests, they look out for their own.

If a single employee demands better working hours or more pay, he or she is replaceable. If five hundred of them do so, the employer will take notice. If five thousand do, the employer is facing a crisis, especially if these employees raise a large, public, well-founded stink. If you are being mistreated by an employer (tech or otherwise), chances are you aren't the only one. (If you are, perhaps re-examine your definition of "mistreated?") If this is common practice for the employer, your co-workers are probably just as pissed off, and sitting around waiting around for someone to tell them what to do about it.

Maybe you should consider telling them!

So why the US don't follow Canada's steps... (4, Informative)

dark-br (473115) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883030)



...with specific rules for high-tech industry [gov.bc.ca] so ppl don't get to be fscked over by large companies?

Re:So why the US don't follow Canada's steps... (2, Informative)

glencampbell (828870) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883186)

California actually has specific rules for high-tech employers that *exempt* them from overtime, etc.

Devil's Advocate (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883032)

Is there anything about the nature of the work which is unique and worthy of long hours?

I'm not trying to troll or disparage the efforts of their staff. But even as just a luser, I know there are times when I am trying to do something out of the ordinary on my Linux boxen (like compiling some new software or something, and then running into library issues or whatever which need to be tracked down and figured out) where the hours pass by incredibly quickly.

My perception is that in IT, the hours fly by. That may cause disgruntlement when you leave for the day and you realize it's ten o'clock at night and you missed the sunset, but weren't all of those hours you put in necessary for you to get your project from point A to point B?

A friend works there... (4, Informative)

powerlinekid (442532) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883043)

He graduated RIT with a 4.0 in CS and EA offered him 50k a year with a 7k bonus. They helped him move to Florida (hes from NY) and put him to work doing the layout for Madden 2k4. He hates it since the games are essentially assembly line made. He does very little coding since EA has their cross platform tools and spent most of his time aligning menu items. Last I heard he wanted out. I remember how excited he was to get a "game development" job and was crushed to find out how that means tweaking stupid crap. Now he wants completely out of the game industry.

Oh. My. God. (-1, Troll)

shaun (29783) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883044)

We're supposed to be outraged about people voluntarily overworking themselves for $60 grand a year these days?

I'm supposed to believe that "just go home are a reasonable hour" never occurred to them?

I'm supposed to believe that "it's Friday night, see you on Monday" never occurred to them?

I'm supposed to believe that "go work somewhere else" never occurred to them?


The lack of imagination that the NYT is attributing to these E.A. employees is impressive.

There really are good times we live in, if this is what we're being outraged about. $60K/annum at 80 hours per week is still *way* over the minimum wage - how about some outrage on behalf of those poor defenseless minimum wage suckers, who generally *don't* have the option to just go somewhere where they'll be treated better.

The NYT really should be ashamed of themselves.

Re:Oh. My. God. (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883191)

OK, so I'm feeding the trolls:

I'm supposed to believe that "just go home are a reasonable hour" never occurred to them?

When you get a little older, young grasshopper, you will learn that sometimes you are expected to stay late and just get the job done. If your company expects this to happen every day - it's a crappy company. But unless the entire staff can be persuaded by a colleague to leave at a reasonable hour, any one person is going to see this as a career limiting manouver.

I'm supposed to believe that "it's Friday night, see you on Monday" never occurred to them?

See previous comment.

I'm supposed to believe that "go work somewhere else" never occurred to them?

Grasshopper, you assume that alternative jobs are just waiting to be plucked from the trees. Many aren't long out of college. Without experience, finding a job is considerably harder. Finding the time to conduct a job hunt isn't easy if you're working 80 hours a week. And resigning is an excellent way to ensure you get no unemployment benefits in many countries.

Crunch time (1)

MagicDude (727944) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883050)

While the situation with these programmers is obviously pretty bad, why is everyone so appalled at the concept of putting in long hours at the end of a project? The so called "crunch time" has been around forever. When we were in college, how often were we given a paper to write with a deadline in two weeks, but we procrastinated for 12 days and then spend the last two days burried in the library cursing the professor for giving us this craptastic assignment? How would this be any different? I have a feeling that at the beginning of a 2 year project for a game, the first year is spent with with all the abstract concept designing and tooling around with a game engine, and taking it easy and not "really" getting stuff done. Then with a year to go, and management clammoring to make sure you get the game out before christmas, and everyone suddenly has to work a lot harder, everyone's like "WTF?". So it's the difference between if they had been giving 100% all the time, rather than starting with 50% and then having to end with 150%.

Publicity (4, Insightful)

Malicious (567158) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883070)

EA has earned a name of being that Company who pumps out the same sports title ever year, with updated rosters, milking the cow for everything its worth.
EA is also the only company that literally FILLS it's games with billboards and advertisements.
EA now is becoming notorious with mistreating it's employees.
The problem is that this is a successful business model, and the only way to break it is to stop buying their games.

Possibly offtopic (4, Interesting)

AbsurdProverb (831079) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883080)

I realize that potentially unfair labor practices take presidence here, but people are quick to forget some of the great game/developer houses diminished & crushed by publishers like EA.

I grew up on Origin & Westwood games so I'll use them as an example.
Wing Commander
Ultima
Crusader
Dune
Command And Conquer

EA chased out two creative minds like Chris Robert and Richard Garriot. Origin and Westwood have now gone the way of the dinosaurs.

Hey but now we have the all the Sims games/expansions we can fit down our throats. Theres no Samurais and ninjas in UO (wtf?), and there a new/redundant sports titled every year. Nothing really creative, but plenty more of the same.
Not to worry, if theres any money to be made from someone not in EA, EA/Vivendi will assimilate them and be sure to repeat the process.

I really hope somebody puts the screws to these publisher's for their behavior. Even if the development and enforcement of a Programmer's Union could lead to increase costs placed on the consumer end.

Somebody has to win one for Colonel Blair and the Avatar.

Definitely offtopic (2, Funny)

halivar (535827) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883158)

Somebody has to win one for Colonel Blair

n00b. Back in my day, we had to crank our Rapiers and Claymores with a winch. When it got stuck in the snow, we had to get out and push it all the way to Kilrah and back, uphill both ways! We also didn't have any namby-pamby Mark Hamill playing our lead. No, sir!

Man, Origin really did "not suck" before EA bought them. Ultima 9 sealed it for me: EA sucks. It's in the game.

By the way... (1, Troll)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883083)

... does anyone know if EA are hiring?

Pay?!? (2, Funny)

Monf (783812) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883099)

"toiling like galley slaves" to describe EA's programmers, and note that EA has a formal policy of hiring young, naive people who are willing to work long hours for low pay.

You mean I can get paid for doing this stuff?

EA should be praised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883102)

EA should be praised for offering jobs to people without much industry experience. The skills they learn will stay with them for life and the experience gained will lead to more job opportunities and better pay in the future.

Oblig. (2, Funny)

cr0y (670718) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883143)

I for one welcome our new long hour programming low pay overlords!

FFS, these people aren't slaves! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883150)

So what if their conditions aren't perfect, they chose to work for EA. I am afraid that if you want to work for one of the most popular games companies in the world, thems the breaks!

Predictions? (5, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883169)

Does all this bad press predict an employee revolt at EA? After all, the people who are considering employment at EA is the very same demographic as those reading this very forum so it's not like they'd be uninformed before entering employment. This could effectively lower the rate of new hires. So then retention would become a spotlight issue with EA and an employee revolt would then be very well timed so that people could get their employment contracts renegotiated to include specific work hours and specific days off guaranteed.

There's no denying the capitalistic desire to get more for less. Every Walmart shopper knows this desire. Should we even go so far as to say there's nothing wrong with it? Maybe. But we are talking about PEOPLE, not products... employees, not slaves... and we are talking about some pretty abusive and inhumane tactics that clearly involve intentional deception on the part of the employer.

In short, we clearly observe a situation where a company's management is willfully acting in an immoral way and I don't see where it matters one bit that it's a natural desire or that other people are also doing similar things. Wrong is still wrong no matter how frequently it occurs.

But the thing here is now there is an opportunity for the employees to make a change. If a large enough number of people formed a strike, there's no way they could retrain replacements fast enough. It would be huge bad P.R., a relatively newsworthy event and a wake-up call to any new hopefuls.

It's too early to predict an uprising, but I see great potential.

In Memory of the fallen.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883170)

Westwood, Bullfrog, Maxis, Origin on and on...
Now they're trying to absorb DICE, creators of Battlefield 1942

These young whippersnappers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883184)

...always complaining when something gets tough - BOO HOO!

Back in my day, we worked hard 24/7 to feed our families, starting with getting coals out of the cellar to start the fire every morning before we even had a chance to wash our faces.

BOO HOO! Go and sweat a bit and learn some respect for your corporate overlords.

That'd be some story! (2, Funny)

crashnbur (127738) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883201)

I was unaware that stories had investigative ability. I want to see a story running around investigating things. That'd be some story!
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