E.A. controversy reveals lousy labor practices

— 10:03 AM on November 22, 2004

This weblog entry by the wife of an Electronic Arts game developer has touched off a growing controversy over treatment of employees at E.A. The follow up, written by the developer himself after his firing, describes in even more detail E.A.'s apparently regular practice of working employees in "crunch mode" on game development projects virtually all the time, requiring upwards of 65 hours of a week out of them. Now, even the New York Times has done a write-up on E.A.'s work conditions:

On weekdays, his team worked from 9 to 10 (that is, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.), and on Saturdays, a half-day (that means 9 to 6). Then Sundays were added - noon to 8 or 10 p.m. The weekly total was 82 to 84 hours.
From what I've seen, virtually everyone familiar with the gaming industry acknowledges that E.A. is not alone in requiring extraordinary amounts of time out of its employees, but E.A. seems to be one of the largest and most egregious offenders.

Having worked with folks on the hardware side of things for a while, I suspect employees of some of the PC hardware companies we cover could tell similar stories. Of course, everyone knows that Taiwanese companies require exceedingly long hours from their employees, but even the North American companies seem to drive people pretty hard. I wonder if the stock options are worth it.

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