Saturday, April 07, 2012

Worst ...

Per those who profess to know.

Electronic Arts just won the type of college basketball-style tournament that no company wants to be associated with. EA was voted the worst company in America by The consumer site is published by Consumer Media LLC, a not-for-profit subsidiary of Consumer Reports, and takes no outside advertising. ...

Over its three-week run, the seventh annual Worst Company in America tournament drew more than 260,000 total votes, setting yet another contest record, from people fed up with the poor consumer policies of the 32 companies nominated from a range of industries, including airlines, telecommunications, retailers, financial institutes and more. Gamers drove the final vote to a tournament record 50,575 total submissions. ...

So consumers are ticked. Maybe it's better inside the company, and EA employees are happy campers with good salaries and better working conditions.

But a few years ago, TAG got contacted by a sizable number of Electronic Arts employees who griped about the long hours and flat pay. At the time, the video game industry had a deserved reputation for long work-weeks, and lawsuits were percolating over unpaid overtime and other unsavory things.

... Word of the lawsuit comes as an anonymous blog posting ... blasted EA and generated a flurry of complaints about punishing work hours in the industry. "The current mandatory hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.--seven days a week--with the occasional Saturday evening off for good behavior (at 6:30 p.m.)," read the post, whose author claimed to be the "significant other" of an EA employee. ....

That was then and this is now. If memory serves, some of the troubles were ultimately resolved. But as a game employee said to me a while back:

"The game industry wants employees who are fresh out of school and eager. It's good to be twenty-two or twenty-three. When you hit thirty, they don't want you anymore. They're back at the university campuses recruiting more twenty-two year olds. ..."

Issues of overwork never go away. Thirty-five years ago, my supervisor at Disney (who'd been there off and on since 1930) complained to me about the free overtime at Disney's Hyperion studio, where the wages for a Saturday of work were a lunch voucher at the corner diner.

In 2138, I'm confident there will still be long work hours and employees who don't get paid for them. And the worst company then? Probably hasn't been formed yet.

Add On: Michael Pachter, game analyst, thinks EA's new award is silly.


Anonymous said...

EA is a terrible company to work for. They're also a proactive paying member of ALEC, the Koch brothers community organizing zoAC designed to subvert Democracy.


I must say that this post does NOT reflect the industry as a whole. I've worked for a small handful of companies in the gaming industry on projects of small and large scale. I count them as companies that brought me the most fulfillment and courtesy.

Crunchtime is a reality, but most project managers don't make it a norm. Wise PM's avoid it as much as possible. Although I generally worked on salary or term contract, I was compensated with bonuses and/or extra paid timeoff for putting in that "extra" time.

My time is gaming has been fantastic, no complaints here.

Anonymous said...

I've heard many stories from people who've worked for EA at various points, and none of those stories were good.

But, having said that, I think it might be unwise to read anything meaningful into the "consumer dissatisfaction" side of this story, because my understanding is that EA is currently the target
of a campaign by... umm... a particular kind of outspoken Christians, who're righteously offended that EA put a gay character into one of their games.

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