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Game Developer Now Offering Employees Overtime 75

Posted by Zonk
from the ea-spouse-cries-with-relief dept.
Via Joystiq comes a story from the European game development website Develop, saying that the UK developer Free Radical will be offering employees overtime for crunch mode sessions. "Steve Ellis of Free Radical says the days of 'bonuses that pay off your mortgage are long gone' and that they've 'decided to start paying people for the work that they do -- even when that work is outside their normal hours.' Ellis says that the industry as a whole will eventually go this way, but they prefer to do it sooner rather than later. Although there are so many companies who are guilty of not paying their employees for working extra hours, EA gets picked on more often than not because of the infamous EA Spouse saga."
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Game Developer Now Offering Employees Overtime

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  • by SnoopJeDi (859765) <(snoopjedi) (at) (gmail.com)> on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @01:39PM (#20840095)
    This model might work for the "kids" of the gaming industry that recycle developers like toilet paper, and treat them the same.

    I suspect that the big names, companies like iD, Raven, and SplashDamage will continue on a by-project basis, simply because their teams are so radically different.

    Interesting idea, though, and it definitely helps bring 'game developer' closer into the fold with 'real' jobs, giving it more weight with skeptics who don't understand the industry.
  • How pathetic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @01:51PM (#20840281)
    how pathetic must you be to work overtime without being paid for it. I'm moving into the 20th year of my career, mostly software development, some IT work. NEVER worked overtime without being paid handsomely for it. Remember you anti social youngin's, you have to STAND UP FOR YOURSELF OR THEY RUN YOU OVER.

    Idiots
  • Re:How pathetic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MadHatter2005 (886375) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @01:55PM (#20840375)
    I agree. Being in the industry, it amazes me that the youngin's just roll over and take it when asked to work ridiculous hours. "Oh, you want me to work 70+ hours a week for months? OK!! Thanks, I'm so grateful to be in the industry I'll do whatever you tell me Mr. Game Businessman!!!"

    I'm not sure how well this pay-for-overtime concept will do though. There are a lot of ambitious people waiting to break into the industry, and the suits at the top know this and take advantage of it. Simple supply and demand.
  • Re:How pathetic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thegnu (557446) <[thegnu] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @02:04PM (#20840551) Journal
    I think you have to be a salaried employee. If you get a benefits package and make half a million a year, it doesn't seem like such a bad deal to work an additional 10 to 20 hours a couple weeks out of the year. However, I know game developers don't make that. And they work insane hours. But who says game developers aren't insane?

    But this is good news, definitely. FWIW, I get paid hourly, and I bill like crazy if someone needs something done and I need to reschedule a lot of work or work overnight because of it. But I'm also not paid for the times I'm doing nothing like some people are.
  • Re:Dupe (kinda) (Score:3, Insightful)

    by king-manic (409855) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @02:16PM (#20840765)
    If it gets games out by their release dates great! But I'm not shelling out 90 bucks a game!

    It'll likely lead to saner game release schedules. Instead of saying "Oct 9th 2007, no matter hell or high water", it'll be "forth quarter 2007, probably".
  • Re:How pathetic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Applekid (993327) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @02:56PM (#20841465)
    A youngin' who lacks the breadth and depth of your experience will need to compromise lest they find themselves out of a job.

    Gotta prove you're worth it in experience and what you bring to the table before you start making demands. Thankfully, employ at Free Radical is a pretty good heavyweight on the resume and those working there are very likely to be able to demand overtime pay at their next gig.
  • Re:How pathetic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SpaceToast (974230) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @02:58PM (#20841519) Homepage Journal

    Why does it blow your mind that the young'uns will work these absurd hours? Here's how it goes:

    Young'un: Hello! I'm entering the working world under a staggering mountain of college debt.
    Old'un: Will you work 70+ hours a week for months?
    Young'un: Gee, that sounds kind of exploitative.
    Old'un: This guy will. Don't worry though, I hear Starbucks is hiring.
    Young'un: No no, I'll take it.
    Old'un: Perfect! By the way we've cut bonuses.
    Young'un: Oh.
    Old'un: I mean, I still get them. But you don't. Sounds fair, right?
    Young'un: Well not...
    Old'un: I have a wife, a house and a family. Think you'll have those anytime soon?
    Young'un: No, I guess not.
    Old'un: That's the spirit!
    Young'un: But if I work hard and produce good work, I'll be able to steadily move up to where-?
    Old'un: No. It's simple supply and demand.

    Supply and demand is no excuse for bare exploitation. As near as I can tell, the only sin of the young'uns is believing they'd do at least as well as their parents did.

  • Re:How pathetic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rakishi (759894) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:06PM (#20841627)
    No, they're sin is wanting to work on games not matter what reality says and being utter idiots about it. In any other industry they'd have been out of candidates a long time ago but the young ones are utter and total idiots. They "want to work in games" and will put up with anything to do so, no matter how little they actually contribute to the game in every sense of the meaning.

    Plenty of other jobs, including programming/IT ones, that don't have this problem AND pay better. Of course when you have so many idiots who are willing to sell their souls to work for you it's hard to not take advantage of it.
  • Re:Dupe (kinda) (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:07PM (#20841647)

    It'll likely lead to saner game release schedules. Instead of saying "Oct 9th 2007, no matter hell or high water", it'll be "forth quarter 2007, probably".
    That's usually what happens. Perhaps it is just an indication that games shouldn't be hyped until they are largely together. And that the date for the release shouldn't be set until a month or two before it is released.

    This is one of the problems with allowing businesses the level of freedom that they have over compensation. Sure minimum wages and similar mandates tend to be problematic when not thought through, but so is the idea that an employer should be allowed to require constant overtime as well. Burn out is a serious matter, and as is killing morale. There just aren't many industries that have workers that thrive by working constant overtime because the business model was messed up.
  • Re:How pathetic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by servognome (738846) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:40PM (#20842133)

    how pathetic must you be to work overtime without being paid for it.
    Maybe they choose to for the "love" of the job. Game programmers can get cushy jobs in other software segments, but there's that drive to make games. How many kids grow up thinking, "I want to learn programming so I can write a database program to manage toilet paper inventories."
    The number of people who want to break into the industry leads to workers making compromises. Just like acting, where you have to work a minimum wage job 95% of the time so you have the flexibility to stand in line for 5 hours to get the chance at landing a one time role that pays $50. Or professional sports where by age 6 you spend hour after hour practicing, most likely will end up in a $20k/year practice and will suffer life long physical pain, all for the chance of having a big league career that lasts less than 3 years.
  • by SparkleMotion88 (1013083) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:41PM (#20842153)
    Thankfully we have this thing called "freedom" that allows companies to (for the most part)decide how to compensate their employees. So maybe if you're desirable enough, you can find an employer that compensates you in a way that makes you happy, regardless of what companies are required to do by law. In fact, why is it even remotely okay that the government can make laws that dictate how a private organization trades money for labor? What if there was a law that set a maximum salary for workers in your field?

    And I don't want to hear any garbage about "wage slavery" or "no options" or "corporate greed." If you don't want to trade your labor for what you are willing to convince someone to pay for it, then don't do it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @04:38PM (#20843025)
    In fact, why is it even remotely okay that the government can make laws that dictate how a private organization trades money for labor?

    The law establishes minimum practices. The fact that very, very, very few companies choose to go beyond these minimum practices indicates that removing them probably will cause the companies to sink to even lower levels.

    What if there was a law that set a maximum salary for workers in your field?

    People would be extraordinarily pissed off. Take a look at the people upset about CEO pay, yet there are no laws to limit CEO pay. Consider that when trying to draw a parallel between situation A and situation B.

    If you don't want to trade your labor for what you are willing to convince someone to pay for it, then don't do it.

    I wonder which can last longer, you without food, or the company without you. Perhaps you have an overinflated idea of how important you are to the company.
  • by cliffski (65094) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @06:05PM (#20844135) Homepage
    I used to work in AAA game dev, now work for myself. I'm not sure paying overtime is the solution. If I'm paid by the hour and I have a bad ass bug, yet I have a brainwave and fix it in 20 mins, I'm going to avoid checking it in, chat on msn, play peggle for 3 hours and pocket the 3 hours extra wages. Who is going to know? I'd be very surprised if this doesn't lead to longer dev times, rather than shorter, its all about incentives.
    If there is more cash available, the solution is good, regular bonuses, and higher salaries. The problem is the management obsession wit bums on seats and hours clocked in. Coders and designers especially are knowledge workers. It's to do with clear thinking, experience, efficiency and inspiration. you can't chain someone to a desk and expect them to produce a linear amount of results per hour. Coding and designing is not bricklaying. Management panic that they can't tell if a game coder is working hard or not, or whether he good at his job or not, so they settle for the one metric they understand -> hours worked.
    It's a deeply flawed method, and paying them for the extra hours just penalizes those who are more efficient and get stuff done faster. Pay people by results.

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