Analyst Breaks Satire Barrier, Become Parody

By Jim Rossignol on July 26th, 2011 at 10:59 am.

Team Bondi, yesterday
Excitable Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter – who is allowed to comment on the games industry for some reason – has been talking about crunch time at development studios. Here’s what he said (via Industry Gamers): “The cool thing about this industry is, if you’re good, you’ll make a ton of money. I just don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for people who say ‘I worked for such-and-such, and I didn’t get paid, and that’s not fair’. If you want to be an hourly employee, go build automobiles, and what will happen is they’ll close down your autoplant some day and you’ll be out of work.”

Uh-huh.

Unwisely, Pachter continued: “I think there’s a legitimate complaint if crunch time is never-ending. Crunch should be the last three to six months of game development.” So IF you are trapped in some kind of Greek allegory where you are forced to crunch game dev for all eternity, then you are allowed to complain. But to who? Hades himself, probably. But he won’t care, he’s from my Dad’s generation, and therefore too old to understand videogames.

It’s best to imagine that if you work in game development, then you’ve won a fantastic prize. If you don’t get paid for overtime that’s fine, because you’re in Disneyland!

Pachter also attacked the idea of unions within game development, saying that people who earn a lot of money don’t need any protection, apparently because money provides them with a cloak of impenetrable entitlement: “I think unions are in business to protect workers from, I think, dangerous working conditions and unfair labor practices. Sweatshops should have unions but games studios, which tend to pay people a lot of money, shouldn’t. I just don’t think people who make over $100,000 a year need a whole lot of protection cause they might have to work overtime.”

There aren’t any people who make less than $100k a year in the games industry, incidentally. They are all so rich. It’s great.

Pachter’s opinions drew plenty of discussion from developers, including Size Five Games’ Dan Marshall, who commented: “Actually I think he’s right. If you lot in The Games Industry just pulled your fingers out and worked a bit harder ALL games could be 9/10. Look at LA Noire! If you lot in The Games Industry just stopped whinging so much and worked more hours, ALL games could be like LA Noire.”

Which is a fair point to make, I think. Anyway, I’m off to play Sweatshop, why don’t you join me?

__________________

« | »

.

212 Comments »

  1. Teddy Leach says:

    Well, LA Noire could have been a whole lot better… Not that it wasn’t good, of course.

    • Jonas says:

      Did you just explain the joke…?

    • McDan says:

      Don’t listen to him, he ruins everything. I was thinking that if they know crunch time is a part of making a game, and it occurs for nearly every game made, then why don’t they have special pay or whatever for it? Seeing as they know it’s coming. Doesn’t make sense not to, except to save money, the bastards.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      No, he just didn’t get the joke. :(

    • McDan says:

      …What I said was also a joke, I know the guy.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I’m puzzled, I think this is maybe the cringiest first comment on RPS ever. Completely misunderstood the joke or am I not getting another joke of some kind?

      Oh and no, it wasn’t any good. It looked great, it was possibly even a good interactive film, but a game it was not. Also, an LA Confidential rip off it certainly was.

  2. torchedEARTH says:

    I’m not off to play anything – I’m at work.

    To answer your question: I’m waiting for more Deus Ex videos.

  3. Freud says:

    Sweatshop Tyccoon

  4. Jockie says:

    Michael Pachters job is to spout spurious bullshit at literally anyone who will print him, he’s essentially a troll in a suit, don’t bite!

    • Erd says:

      He sounds like a consultant, of the well paid, uninformed opinion kind.

    • Jockie says:

      Thing is, I don’t think he’s so much uninformed as he is deliberately provocative. I wrote for a website once and he granted us an interview, I took some insane quote he gave us about Uncharted 2 ‘underperforming’, turned it into a news story and posted to n4g and it gave us about 20,000 hits in one day, which is about the same as we would normally get across several months.

      The man knows how to push buttons and it means websites are often eager to interview him and watch the hits roll in, which raises his profile etc.

    • konrad_ha says:

      Exactly this. Pachter knows how to draw an audience by extreme trolling. Also: he has no soul.

    • rocketman71 says:

      It must be that. Otherwise, I can’t understand how websites staffed by supposedly intelligent individuals (i.e. Gamasutra) can publish every single rambling this idiot has to say.

    • sinister agent says:

      He sounds like a consultant, of the well paid, uninformed opinion kind.

      There’s no need to repeat yourself.

    • Dreamhacker says:

      But… many of my friends are consultants!

    • Nalano says:

      You should make new friends.

    • anonymousity says:

      What’s really ridiculous is that we realise he’s a troll and we can see that he’s trolling yet we all still respond to it, because there’s a little voice inside us all going ooh a chance to be justifiably righteous in verbally smiting this oaf, when he doesn’t even give a shit because we’re still giving him page hits. If only we could ignore him.

  5. markside says:

    He knows nothing of The Crunch.

  6. Arglebargle says:

    What a peckerwood! Doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground, apparantly. I do know a lot of workers (and ex workers) in the industry, and I can count on the fingers of one hand….with change… how many are living gloriously off their game company largesse. The strong majority of ‘em are strugging just the same as most folks these days.

    I doubt he’d spew the same BS about the Movie trade…..

    • Twitchity says:

      The key differences being that the film industry is heavily unionized, incomes are quite reasonable, and crunch time is basically unheard of.

      Perhaps we should chain him to a desk for the better part of a death march project and see when he starts hallucinating from lack of sleep. Hour ten for a git like him, I’m willing to bet.

  7. stahlwerk says:

    A man with a vision. A man after my own heart.
    He’s not afraid to go on record.
    He gets the results.
    He’s Michaeeeeeel
    PACHTER!

  8. MD says:

    Man, unless Size Five is some sort of subtle dirty joke, I really wish they’d stuck with Zombie Cow.

    Anyway, regarding the article, I haven’t read Pachter’s comments but unless you’re misrepresenting him somehow (which seems unlikely given the lengthy quotes and the fact that you’re not a dodgy hack), well said Jim.

    I especially liked this bit:

    So IF you are trapped in some kind of Greek allegory where you are forced to crunch game dev for all eternity, then you are allowed to complain. But to who? Hades himself, probably. But he won’t care, he’s from my Dad’s generation, and therefore too old to understand videogames.

  9. AbyssUK says:

    100k USD a year, this man is in some sort of crazy double rainbow world…

    • Jonas says:

      According to the last GameCareerGuide statistics roundup I read, $100,000 a year is what technical directors tend to get, and that’s absolutely the highest salary for a proper development job (meaning not marketing, business management, etc.) So yeah I don’t know what he’s thinking. The average salary for a game designer was $65,000 a year.

    • noclip says:

      I find it interesting that $100k is where he chose to draw the line. Some people working for $40k a year don’t get paid overtime, would he take issue with that? Does *he* get paid overtime (or as he calls it, his annual bonus) at his $150k/year job?

  10. Crimsoneer says:

    Partly, he has a point – gaming is an incredibly competitive sector, and is likely to get more and more competitive as gaming becomes more popular. Like investment banking, it’s what every man and his dog wants to go into. The larger the amount of prospective employees becomes, and the higher demand for them becomes, the more you’re going to have to work very hard to stand out.

    I’m not saying I agree with everything – we need solid legislation to deal with this sort of thing – but I suspect in the future you’re more likely to compare gaming studios hiring model to consultancy and financial firms than software firms: hiring only the very best and paying them quite a lot on the condition that they accept they’re going to dedicate their life to their work. What we’re going through now is just the labour market adjusting.

    • Vayl says:

      There are many competitive sectors that are not based on slave work. This only shows a complete lack of management skills. Most civilized world have laws against this sort of things btw, that’s why the gaming industry is mainly focused on places they can exploit their workers to their hearts content.

    • Kdansky says:

      Sadly, there is a huge difference:

      People go into gaming for their passion, but into investment banking purely for the money.
      Games are a real product. Investment banking is based on the simple principle of juggling money long enough until either your customers lose theirs or the gouvernment bails you out, and you pocket the difference.

    • Grygus says:

      He may have a point, but that’s not it; if there is a glut of talent on the market then salaries drop and they’re not all making six figures anymore (not that they are now, I’m just saying that it isn’t consistent with his logic). In addition, with all that cheap labor there would be no reason for crunch time to even exist; hiring more people working sane hours would mean fewer errors, better games, and happier employees. So that can’t be what he’s getting at; he has to believe that the talent is still rare, or he isn’t making any sense at all.

    • Crimsoneer says:

      Don’t worry, I think you’re both right – apart from Kdanski who’s being an idiot – and I do think there should be legislation in place to stop crunch time turning into slave labour, but I think a few facts are pretty unlikely to be contested:
      1) More and more very clever people are going to want to go into games development
      2) Game devs are going to be able to pick out the top talent, and it’s going to be an incredibly competitive labour pool

      In ten or so years, I do see the gaming industry being a very intense lifestyle that pays excessively well, with flexible laws. What happened during L.A Noire development was definitely pushing it, but I think it’s likely the gaming industry as a whole is going to have to adapt to some serious crunch and long working hours.

    • JackShandy says:

      “Adapt”? You’re talking like game studios don’t have long hours or serious crunch now.

      http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/05/the-death-march-the-problem-of-crunch-time-in-game-development.ars

    • Deano2099 says:

      And when that happens, more and more talented people will leave that sector as they realise the very skills they have acquired can be used for software development work that pays twice as much and has sensible hours.

    • DrGonzo says:

      How was Kdansky being stupid? He was spot on.

    • Nalano says:

      Because it’s like saying, “if you like helping children, we shouldn’t have to pay you to teach them.”

      It’s complete and utter bullshit.

    • steviesteveo says:

      Re: not paying teachers.

      Additionally, the only reason you’d even suggest not paying people who enjoy their job is because you hate yours and want everyone else to be miserable too. People who drag others down to their level like that can absolutely GTFO.

  11. Tei says:

    Before a software proyect is started. People plan schedules and work. For some software projects (for governement) is legally mandatory.

    If you still get crunch time after this planning… and you planned not crush time, you obviusly suck at your work: planning.
    If you planned crunch time, then probably you sould be violating a few laws, and if these laws don’t exist, sould be created (your opinion abou this may varied depending on your political views, and the hour of the day ).

    So the problem, the root cause is: the people planning the schedule. Bad direction.
    The secondary problem is people that allow that. The workers. But is a tough call, and not everyone can use a door to abandon a building. It can be a too tough decision to take for some people.
    We have a system to protect the weak people. So again, laws sould make that imposible, to protect people that don’t have the ironwill needed to say NO to obvious abuse.

    • Gnoupi says:

      There is a third factor, other than bad planning or workers going with it: money.
      If you come with a full planning, realistic one, your publisher “might” frown seeing at the “luxurious amount of time” you are taking. Or in the middle of development, even if planning was correct, they might decide that it’s a better marketing occasion if the game is released one month earlier.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      Tei, as ever, speaks wisdom

    • ankh says:

      Wise words but sometimes its not about “iron will” regarding not tolerating abuse but rather just a logical decision because the consequences outweigh the benefits.

  12. Carra says:

    All this is doing is making sure that every few months a group splits from the crunch factory and starts making indie games for themselves.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      I see no downsides to this situation.

    • ankh says:

      Unless there is some kind of link between people who have talent and people who dont like crunch time. Don’t get me wrong i love indie titles but all in all i want creative talent backed up by lots of money as i think this has the greatest potential to produce good games. (I had to really give it some thought to come up with a possible down side :P)

  13. Juicetin says:

    I’ve been watching Pachter for some time and have always been a little bit worried about his political leanings. It’s possible that the height of his mighty skyscraper view makes poor grunt workers at games devs look rather insignificant. Regardless, someone needs to tell him that unions aren’t evil. Although I think he’s a republican so that might be pointless….

    • Berzee says:

      Ewww, unions.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      Ewww, social movements where like minded individuals get together to protect themselves and their families from the fickle whims of an unpredictable downward trending capitalist market in a completly non violent and legal way.

      The hell is that, eh? Nothing like a political party which is a protected and established element of all democractic systems, thats for certain.

    • Quine says:

      As Studs Terkel put it:

      ‘How many hours a day do you work?’ I ask. He says, ‘Eight.’ ‘How comes you don’t work 18 hours a day like your great-great-grandfather did? You know why? Because four guys got hanged in Chicago in 1886 fighting for the eight-hour day … For you.’

    • Juicetin says:

      The more factory-esque games production becomes the more likely the working standards within the industry will mirror that state: longer hours, devaluation of labour, disenfranchisement of workers. Let’s face it, if your priority in developing games is making profit, then that ethos is bound to diffuse into the way employees are treated.

      Boo.

    • Juicetin says:

      .. I think I just out-Marxd myself….

    • apollyonbob says:

      @Quine:
      I do work 18 hour days sometimes.
      I don’t normally because my boss doesn’t normally ask me to. Why? Because I would quit if he did Why? Because I’m really damn good at my job and can get another somewhere that doesn’t ask me to work those hours.
      But that’s only true because my job is in a free market that’s not obstructed, influenced, controlled, or touched in any way by unions, because I work in a state of At-will employment.
      Unions cannot help me in any way. They can only hurt me, and I certainly don’t owe them a damn thing.

    • Berzee says:

      Yes, Tsunami, eww that. =P Because, did you know? You can ewww things that are legal.

      apollyonbob — yes :) thank you for explaining what are essentially my thoughts too…it saves me having to say more than “ew” :D

    • steviesteveo says:

      I never got the hate that regular people can spit at unions. I can see hating the pants off unions if you employ people who are in a union but if you’re an employee rather than an employer it’s a defensive measure against companies that otherwise hold all the cards and, as legal persons, are functionally incapable of caring whether you live or die as long as it’s profitable.

    • PFlute says:

      @apollyonbob: I find it quite hard to believe that you “owe nothing to a union”. Here in America, minimum wage, weekends off, eight hour work days are all byproducts of union organization in the past. So if you live here and you’ve ever had a job where you enjoyed any of those things, then unions have, defacto, benefited you. I really don’t think there’s any capable argument against that, and if you think those things would have magically materialized via the good will of the free market if those rotten unions hadn’t come along, then I do question your sanity.

      Or do you honestly think that being good at your job offers more protection than any Union could; That maybe if those fools had just tried harder they wouldn’t have had to organize? I don’t want to cause offense, but that seems like the height of naivete to me.

      Of course I can’t speak for other countries. I assume similar labor histories for other first world nations, but Sagan knows I could be wrong.

      @Quine: Ahhh I love Terkel. I think I actually have that book of his. I’ve been meaning to pick up more.

    • Berzee says:

      “minimum wage, weekends off, eight hour work days”

      I’m salaried (so no minimum wage), and I worked 12 hours Sunday and until 3 in the morning on Monday. :3

    • steviesteveo says:

      I suspect it’s the same story around the world too. Historically the two ways to get better conditions if you work for a living in Britain have been 1) single issue do gooders in Parliament who happen to like the cause of reasonable working conditions, or 2) industrial action through unionisation.

      Of course if you own the diamond mine or the software development company this is not relevant to you. if you work for someone who does then it is.

    • Kamos says:

      What if all emplyers decide 18 hours of work is a good idea, apollyonbob? I hope you’re “damn good” at some other completely unrelated field.

  14. westyfield says:

    Hell, I only read about games, and even I’m loaded! Let’s all put on our diamond gloves and hold hands.

  15. PatrickSwayze says:

    I hope GameTrailers get rid of his show after this comment.

    It’d be interesting to see how some of podcasters on that website react to this statement…

  16. Vayl says:

    How can someone be so stupid really, this mentality of that overworking people is the only way to do business is retarded.

  17. Mike says:

    Not so much breaking the satire barrier as he is colliding with himself in the past, smashing into a thousand pieces, and providing scientists the first glance at ‘antisatire’.

    The man is a securities analyst. On the one hand, we should probably expect little more from him. On the other hand – since when did unions become a luxury?

    • V. Profane says:

      Since Randian sociopaths like him appointed themselves rulers of the Universe.

  18. Alexander Norris says:

    saying that people who earn a lot of money don’t need any protection

    I think someone actually crunched some numbers up and came out with actual figures, but off the top of my head the same job programming games is paid about 40% less than a job in the software industry.

    But hey, $25k a year at 30 is “a lot of money,” right? (I feel like retching now.)

    Also, I really hope Dan was making a comment about how crunch is bad, and not actually endorsing crunch. :(

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      I’d hazard that Mr Marshall is of the opinion that LA Noir is a big pile of pants, thus lending his comments a biting sarcasm. I think it’s safe to say that he doesn’t concur with Pachter’s odious opinions.

  19. mattratcliffe says:

    I”ll just leave this here:
    http://www.develop-online.net/features/1184/The-Valve-manifesto
    Gabe Newell on crunch time is about halfway down. Also that Pachter is a tool.

  20. Curvespace says:

    I’d point him towards the book The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies. It’d be good toilet reading for him, but I guess when you spout shit out of your mouth you don’t sit on the toilet all that much…

  21. Hagane says:

    Pachter is a very intelligent person.

  22. pepper says:

    This guy is a analyst? Sounds to me like he never worked a real job for a single day in his life.

    And really, the actual developers almost never make a lot of money. The people that do make the big bucks are either the CEO types or investors.

  23. Lu-Tze says:

    Need to talk to our HR Manager and tell her my paychecks have been wrong for the last 5 years and I should’ve been earning $100,000+. This guy has opened my eyes.

  24. Monchberter says:

    This is getting dangerously close to the commerce / art argument.

    If you take the commerce argument, then someone working for a studio is just doing a job, they aren’t making the decisions about the financial viability of the thing they’re working on, that’s the project manager’s role and the responsibility of the company hence people should get paid

    The art argument – which doesn’t work at all – is that you’re basically expected to always to be producing something that people should want to buy and that it’s your fault if noone buys it and hence you should only get paid if someone sees value in it. This may work if you are working by yourself or for a small indie reliant on raw sales but most games aren’t made like art. They are products like a box of cereal and the individual shouldn’t take the rap for a bad decision made by someone at the top.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Surely it should be the other way round? The commerce argument should be “only produce that for which there is a demand,” and the art argument should be “only produce that which has an intrinsic value.”

    • Monchberter says:

      @ Alexander Norris

      Yeah, I agree with you. But my point was that its about responsibility. Of course commercial decisions should be based on demand, but if you’re the developer working away on a flop for a big studio, it shouldn’t be you who takes the rap for it. Its the company’s role and its directors to ensure that you’re being employed to produce something that will sell. What our wonderful trolling analyst seems to be saying is that if a game fails – noone should get paid. But blame is not that cut and dried in the big corporates.

    • Nalano says:

      To put it succinctly, blaming your “lazy” staff – how dare they take evenings and weekends off! – is the mark of a bad manager. To punish them for your mistakes is not only morally reprehensible but very, very illegal.

  25. Jumwa says:

    Well you can see why a guy who gets paid for repeating stuff that’s been common knowledge in the gaming community months after the fact wouldn’t have any empathy towards those who work for a living.

  26. WJonathan says:

    “Analyst…Become”?

  27. Handsome Dead says:

    who is michael patcher and why should i care about what he thinks

    • Okami says:

      He’s an analyst whose predictions usually turn out to be hilariously wrong.

    • steviesteveo says:

      Generally, if you find an analyst who makes predictions notable enough to get into the press, they’re going to be so outlandish in one way or another that the predictions never come true.

      The analysts who sit there and go “lots of people will probably buy what Apple releases next” don’t get in the press — they’re busy writing reports for people to genuinely act on. The ones who say “not a single person in the world will buy another computing product when I say now”, get in the press.

      I’m saying the press have some responsibility for why we almost never hear about an analyst who sounds like they know what they’re talking about.

    • noclip says:

      An analyst and a therapist — the world’s first…
      (Good for you if you know the reference)

  28. ChaosSmurf says:

    He’s not the analyst we deserve.

    Or need.

    Where was I going with this?

  29. Calneon says:

    For somebody who is meant to know a lot about the industry, he knows very little about the industry. I’m studying Computer Games Technology at university and from the information I’ve gathered, being a games programmer or artist pays less than a respective programming job in a big software development company.

    You’re looking at £30,000 for a junior position, going up to about £50,000 if you’re a lead programmer/artist. That’s only in the UK though, I’m not sure how much big studios like Valve or EA pay their employees, but if every game developer makes $100,000 over in America, I know where I’m moving when I have my degree…

    • Monchberter says:

      Valve? Big? Big reputation maybe. But they run very much counter to the way most places are run and it looks inspirationally anarchistic.

      http://www.develop-online.net/features/1192/Gabe-Newell-on-Valve

      And for the record, this is probably one of the best gaming related interviews i have ever read.

    • Bhaumat says:

      Er, yeah good luck with that. If you’re talking straight out of university you’re more likely to be looking at a £18-20k salary, and that’s only if you can get your foot in the door. Many software places ask for 2 years of experience, but I get the impression game studios tend to be a little more savvy when it comes to finding competent new blood.
      Obviously once you have some industry experience, those numbers start to look more realistic.
      Pretty much like any other workplace, really.

    • Tams80 says:

      Some pretty good examples.

      http://www.jagex.com/careers#/vacancies/game-programmer

      Read the requirements.

    • wererogue says:

      I got my start at Jagex – they’re one of the only places that will take graduates, and even then they test and quiz you pretty thoroughly to make sure you know what you’re doing.

      Good times :)

      re: the story – Pachter is an tool and has bizarre ideas about how much the average dev makes. That figure is offensive for a programmer, and spits in the face of designers, artists and especially QA.

  30. pyjamarama says:

    The fact the he is a ultra liberal is no surprise, but to actually say it’s okay to rob people if they aren’t able to fight back is just scum. His comments use to be entertaining bullshit most of the time but this is scum.

    • reticulate says:

      Uh, you might want to read up on your History of the Labour Movement, champ.

      I’ll give you a hint: It’s not the ‘ultra-liberals’ that are against unionising or fair pay.

      Edit: Unless we’re talking the Tory “Classical” Liberal as opposed to the US Liberal. In which case I blame whoever decided on the distinction.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Pretty sure he meant the UK meaning of the word “liberal,” and not the US one.

      As with everything that split between the two, the UK is of course right, and the US wrong.

      (Except for tomato.)

    • Nalano says:

      To further confound the “liberal” tag, this ‘analyst’ seems distinctly “neo-liberal,” which basically means he’s a libertarian: Economically ultra-liberal – as in anything goes – but not classically liberal – as in progressive.

  31. sonofsanta says:

    What a shame

    No, wait, the other one: what a dickhead.

  32. Gothnak says:

    I think Pachter is a dick… (Don’t quote me on that, but it’s true)… Also, i don’t know many people in the Uk who earn over $100k (in British Pounds of course) in this industry.

  33. Greg Wild says:

    Of all the things Pachter has said, this is the only one which has ever really struck a chord with me.

    That chord suggests Pachter is a colossal douche, and can go fuck himself.

  34. Vexing Vision says:

    But he’s not wrong.

    If you want to make money, go work in banking or sell insurances or comfort people by providing hotline support.

    If you want to work unpaid overtime, weekends, on call all the time and sitting unhealthily all day in front of a computer to either analyze billion lines of code or billion lines of excel, then come and work for games.

    My personal choice between those two is clear.

    (And it’s still the best job in the world. Unless you’re at EA.)

    • jalf says:

      Do you actually work in the games industry?
      No, what you describe is not the best job in the world. (And I fail to see what EA has to do with anythnig. If you “work unpaid overtime, weekends, on call all the time and sitting unhealthily all day in front of a computer to either analyze billion lines of code or billion lines of excel”, I don’t really see what EA could do to make your job worse. Take away your chair, perhaps? Threaten to beat you up in your lunch break?
      He’s wrong. You’re wrong.

    • Pop says:

      @Vexing Vision
      I disagree. I’ve worked in the industry and I’ve met a few people with far better jobs.
      One guy worked designing burglar alarms, basically sitting there thinking: “how are they going to get around this one”. On top of that he then had 1 day every week to work on what ever he pleased. That’s the best job in the world.

      A great job is one where you’re empowered to do it well, working as part of a great team. It doesn’t really matter what you’re making – providing you don’t morally object to it. Indie game development might be one of the best jobs in the world, but AAA development has always struck me as one of the worst.

      You don’t see many video games companies climbing up the times 100 best companies to work for after all. Partly because how interesting can life be when you’ve just been coding bloody vehicle physics for 7 years, or if you’ve just made Fifa 2010, and guess what you’re on next?!

      In reality the video game industries blessing (and major failing) is the people who work in it. There are some incredibly talented people, who are a joy to work with. But there’s always a few idiots who are determined to ride this train to glory town, who can sour it.

      If anyone is looking to make games, do it in your own time! I’ve no idea why anyone wants to work on AAA games. I’d rather work in finance than be a small cog in someone else’s vision.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      So can you provide any reason why we should in any way be content with how the games industry treats its employees, rather than demand they be both treated like human beings and given an opportunity to actually do something they like?

      Pachter is colossally wrong on every possible level, here. He’s even more wrong than usual.

    • Vexing Vision says:

      Yeah, I do work in games for more than ten years now.

      Crunchtime happens because people like me abuse the passion for games of people like myself. It works out, despite the overtime and lack of weekends because we still love what we do, in a semi-masochistic relationship with our products.

      Anyone working voluntarily in games is insane, is my point.

      EA is not a place I would recommend for the working climate. It’s a brilliant place to have on your CV, but expect to move on exhausted after two years.

    • Nalano says:

      In a non-dickish way to say it, Vexing, you’re saying that the flood of people who want to work in this industry is depressing the bargaining power of the people who already work in it, by the simple capital notion of supply and demand: It’s an employer’s market. Thing is, every industry is an employer’s market, now. We’re in a recession, after all.

      Now, this flood of labor need not make those currently employed suffer. Indeed, this hurts unions only in right-to-work states, which forbids unions from making deals with employers where-in only union employees may be considered for hire. Because of those right-to-work laws, employers have an endless pool of legal scabs if ever there’s a problem.

      Now, I shouldn’t have to say this, but just because people want to work in a particular industry doesn’t mean they deserve to be exploited by it. Work is work, and while working in an industry you like is rewarding, you still work primarily to get paid. As such, the issue here isn’t that they’re artists who are being given their big break and are just paying the toll for the privilege. The issue here is that labor laws in a lot of places are too weak to defend them.

      On a related note, this ‘analyst’ is still wrong on another front, which is that if you overwork your staff, you get less results. If you turn your workplace into a high-turnover, low-remittance hellhole, you get exactly what you pay for. It’s bad economic policy, it’s bad social policy, and it’s simply bad management.

  35. Pop says:

    Dam, I was working for the wrong videogame company! $100000 is easily twice what I was on. To be fair, I never had crunch… do I still get to moan about my salary?

    I do agree with him to some extent. If you’re a programmer (as I am), if you don’t like crunch, get another job! Possibly working in finance where you actually stand a chance of making over £60K – the automotive industry being a bit on the dead side in the UK.

    If people quit because of crunch, the industry will have to change. You can’t exactly run a company without a work force.

    Even as a consumer you have enormous power. If you boycott Rockstar/Team Bondi games until they change their working practices, they’ll either go bust or reform. I’ve refused to buy LA Noire, and am not going to buy the next Team Bondi game unless they show they’ve remunerated their staff.

    There are plenty of great indie games which don’t seem to suffer from bullying naive graduates into working ungodly hours just to produce mediocre titles.

    Out of interest: can someone tell me why people do this?! They waste their lives working on some flop of a title and are usually being paid poor money! If you’re passionate about games, why do you put up with working on crap?

  36. Rinox says:

    This man’s remarks are symptomatic of everything that’s wrong with unbridled capitalism. The employee/worker should be glad that he’s being abused and squeezed out like a lemon, in their view. The balance between personal and professional is going to shit, and with it personal sovereignty. Your job owns you.

    The worst thing is that these kinds of rules and ideas are now being enforced everywhere to pay for the ‘financial crisis’. Cutting down on social security to pay for the gaping hole left in the economy by rich speculators – the genius of corporate capitalism.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      This is the unfortunate effect of having governments who owe their allegiance to businesses rather that the People. The economic downturn only gave them an excuse to get in power by making their “austerity” measures seem acceptable to the average person, who sadly has very little political awareness, apparently. :(

    • Gunde says:

      It’s more in line with fascism, using the state to work against unions on the behest of corporations. Capitalism doesn’t have anything against labour unions per se, because they’re simply organising workers to create a better negotiating position against the employers.

      But that’s beside the point, because the Pach is just pushing everyone’s buttons, like he always does.

    • Rinox says:

      @ Alexander Norris

      Agreed. :-( Problem is that pretty much the entire political pantheon seems to be ‘in’ on the deal, even the socialists/labour. The only party that seems to be radically opposed to the notion are the communists, and I don’t want to give my vote to them either. Gah.

      Time for our own political party, then?

    • Nalano says:

      Didn’t you know, Alex Norris?

      Corporations are people, too!

  37. World One Two says:

    “So IF you are trapped in some kind of Greek allegory where you are forced to crunch game dev for all eternity, then you are allowed to complain. But to who? Hades himself, probably. But he won’t care, he’s from my Dad’s generation, and therefore too old to understand videogames.”

    Ha.

  38. somini says:

    Pachter is trapped in Carmack and Romero’s golden age…

  39. LuNatic says:

    Whilst I agree that if you earn 100k a year you have no right to complain about overtime, I seriously doubt that many game devs earn even close to this.

    • Curvespace says:

      How much you earn should have no effect on the time you should (by law) be allowed to spend with your loved ones.

  40. Cunzy1 1 says:

    When will the games industry grow up though? I can’t think of any other industry that is so haphazard retail models are broken, products are often forgotten about two weeks after launch, there’s very little job security, developer studios form, ship an average game then crumble with absurd frequency, the list goes on….

    There are exceptions to the above examples and they tend to make some good games to boot but considering how often we’re told it’s a billion pound industry it still seems to be largely run like Toon Town.

  41. Stormbane says:

    This article should have read:
    “In other news Michael Pachter said more stupid shit. Lets play Sweatshop!”

  42. reticulate says:

    I’ve never met anyone in the industry on 100k a year. Of course, I’ve never met the likes of Carmack or Levine, so there’s that.

    • ankh says:

      You ask everyone you meet how much they earn? Must be awkward.

  43. kwyjibo says:

    Asking an investment banker about work/life balance isn’t going to be productive.

    He’s right about unions though. If you’re skilled, you shouldn’t need them.

    • CMaster says:

      “He’s right about unions though. If you’re skilled, you shouldn’t need them.”

      What’s the reasoning behind that?

    • Alexander Norris says:

      In the magical land of Capitalism, corporations don’t shit all over the rights of skilled workers, you see, because they are skilled and it is a magical meritocracy where skill is rewarded.

    • kwyjibo says:

      If you’re skilled, the power lies with the employee. Even if you get canned, you have mobility.

      If on the other hand, you’re a sorry tube driver, who can and should be replaced by robots, then you probably need to go on strike with the RMT.

    • Rinox says:

      Wow. We can only wish not to be a tube driver in your utopia.

      I wonder, how would your vision be in its extended version? Only graduates getting jobs (or deserving them), so what do we do with all those who didn’t receive higher education?

    • CMaster says:

      But the point about environments like the game industry is that everywhere you move to has the same poor conditions. Your mobility and “skills” don’t help, nor are your skills in such short supply that your employer can’t afford to lose you. The only way that seems likely to change is with collective action? Honestly, there are few professions where your skills are genuinely so scarce that you individually have great power, and most of those where it is the case have artificial scarcity as a result of unions controlling the numbers who can be trained (Doctors, Lawyers, etc)

      Also, if you really can be easily replaced by a robot, going on strike is probably a bad idea – it will just encourage your employers to do so. See Murdoch and the print unions.

    • kwyjibo says:

      Citigroup advertise their technical positions in Edge, they’re targeting professionals in the games industry. That’s a clear indication that those skills travel.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      They travel to a different industry. That has labor law enforcement and unions. And when everyone travels, there will be no games industry left. Logical fallacy.

    • kwyjibo says:

      Investment banks have labour law enforcements and unions? Pull the other one.

      And how is the ability to jump industries a logical fallacy?

    • seattlepete says:

      “Even if you get canned, you have mobility.”

      You may have mobility, but you do not have health insurance. Not in the US anyway. I used to feel the same way as you…I worked 9 to 5, that was my mantra. If you needed me to work until 6, too bad. I’m going home. If you don’t like it, fine – go find someone else with my skill set. Oh that’s right, they all retired 20 years ago.

      Then my wife got cancer.

      Now I stay as long as they want because god forbid they do find someone else with my skill set and figure I’m too much of a hassle. I could probably get another job pretty quickly, probably while COBRA is still covering me, but why risk it? Obamacare technically means that my wife can’t get turned down for coverage at my next job, but what if the timing is bad and I am out of work at the same time that the other side attempts to repeal it? I could end up losing everything if my wifes condition went south while I was “moving my skills around”…

    • Nalano says:

      So a machinist isn’t skilled?

      Seriously, this is such shit. Having a college degree in computer science doesn’t mean you have the money to move cross-country to chase jobs. It doesn’t give you a slush fund to survive being out of work.

      I think the wrong word is being used. It’s not “skill.” I think what’s being said is that if you’re in the right socio-economic class – if you’re a manager – you will always be cared for.

      Yeah. Donald Trump was at one point in personal debt to the tune of 900 million dollars. Personal. Not corporate. Trump’s also filed for bankruptcy a dozen times. People still lend Trump money.

      We are not in the same class as Trump, and were I not sure this’d end up in an FBI file somewhere, I’d say what we should do to the likes of Trump.

    • kwyjibo says:

      Millions of the rural poor have flooded to the coastal cities of China to find their fortune.

      If you have a college degree, and aren’t prepared to be mobile, then your lack of options is your own doing.

  44. Njordsk says:

    Bondi are free men in viking culture. I find that funny for a team beeing enslaved. Well somehow funny I mean.

  45. PoulWrist says:

    Everyone I know who works in game development don’t make a lot of money. We’re talking content designers, game directors, artists, writers, that sort of thing, on AAA MMO titles. They make a really average income. But kind of makes sense, since most the people who do work in the games industry is just some guy who came into it because he liked games, not because he had a long education making him an expert on the subject. Hell, I almost got into the game industry at the actual development level without any prior experience, only thing blocking me was they had an equally good candidate in the same country… and I’m not educated in content design.

  46. Njordsk says:

    Please, not all like LA noire :’(

  47. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    I would take Michael Pachter so much more seriously if his company really was called “Excitable Wedbush Securities”.

  48. Tams80 says:

    Excessive and preplanned crunch time surely is in the legal gray area? Doctors get lambasted for extra PAID hours. Well, there are attempts to in the EU at least.

    The games industry can get away with it to some degree, as game development seems to be one of the industries where it is fairly common for people to be really passionate about their job. Using the ‘art argument’ is just exploitation of their passion. This is acceptable to some degree and probably more acceptable at indie developers, but the general impression given, especially at large publishers, is that it is taken too far.

  49. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    Here is a quote a friend sent me yesterday. I sadly can’t link to the article itself but will try to find it:

    In a recent report in a JP Morgan memo to their investors from Michael Cembalest, the chief investment officer he says, “US labor compensation is now at a 50-year low relative to both company sales and US GDP.” Cembalest continues to explain why corporate profits are so strong while the rest of the working class are feeling the pinch, “reductions in wages and benefits explain the majority of the net improvement in margins.” 75% of the increase in profit margins directly correlate with the reduction in workers’ wages.

    So given Pachter’s job is to make the rich richer it is unsurprising he supports continued suppression of worker’s wages.

    Also something worth thinking about is the context of the minimum wage, if you divide time worked by amount paid, crunch time could well lead even the mythically highly paid skilled employees in game design and elsewhere (I know for a fact Lawyers in big firms have to work crazy hours) get less than minimum wage. People like Pachter mask this by highlighting the monthly / yearly lump sum rather than the actual amount of hours a person is working.

  50. JackShandy says:

    Guess it’s Pachter the drawing board with that theory!