Friday, December 03, 2004

AWESOME NEWS: EA promises change in memo without really promising anything

So, EA has finally given a statement about their alleged worker-exploitation practices. The link below goes to a blog site that gives links to the original complaints and the text of a leaked memo from EA Senior VP Rusty Rueff. Go ahead, read it. I'll wait.

EA promises changes in leaked internal memo : Kotaku


For those who couldn't bash through the bullshit enough to really read it, I'll translate it, paragraph by paragraph, into Normal Human Speak for you:

"It has not been easy around here, getting kicked in the face by truth and having our employees rise up against us, strengthened by the growing acceptance of expressing their minds about the negative treatment they have received at this company. We have not responded to any of these allegations because, I mean, really. Shut the hell up, y'know?

"As much as I fear the truth about the working conditions here, this huge media blow-up is too big to ignore, so I need to at least acknowledge your pain in a shallow, surface fashion. Even though we've been in this business for ages, we still 'don't know' how to alleviate this crunch problem, despite the fact that our massive funds could easily hire more people and finance an even bigger workspace than our Redwood Shores complex, which has its own gravity. Oh, and by the way, all you studio people who are complaining need to shut up, because the marketing, sales and other departments are working at least like, 50 hour weeks, and you don't hear them complaining!

"We recently had our survey for you employees, and so many of you replied that it's taking us an extra long time to ignore all of your comments and suggestions. We will soon have our terse response prepared by our lawyers to make sure that we don't promise anything, so stay tuned.

"Don't worry though, because we're not waiting for our lawyers before we start making minor changes that don't really affect anything. Here are just a few, which is to say, there are all of them:

"You will all have to learn a new technology platform, even if you're in the middle of a project. This means that all of your effort previously wasted on reinventing the wheel can be wasted somewhere else, instead.

"Expect long out-of-work training hours in December, around Christmas (except our cash-cow Madden folks, who won't do training until after the New Year). To solve the problem with the extra burden of changing horses in mid-stream, we will be adding extra burden to pre-production, to use up more effort making decisions on things that will doubtless change based on realities that pop up during production.

"We're rolling out an important-sounding acronym that ought to make it look like we're trying to reduce the last-minute decisions that extend a game's late-cycle development burden. This way we put more concrete weight on decisions made when the game is but an ethereal creature of ideas, making us far less flexible when reality comes up later to bite our games in the ass.

"We are also looking into actually considering paying some of you what you deserve, and by 'some of you,' I mean, 'most likely only the project leads and executives.' We haven't been doing this all along, not because we don't want to pay you as much as you deserve, but because we know that you don't WANT to be paid fairly. To do so would be to insult you. We think of our artists as creative, starving people and our engineers as flexible people who are ready to 'adapt' to whatever hardship their long hours and small paychecks may cause. Outdated 'laws' want to make us pay you a fair wage for the stupidly insane hours we make you work, but you don't want that any more than we do. So we're taking the onus on ourselves to look into how to look like we're giving you more money without actually doing so. And yes, I said 'onus.'

"That's what we're doing now. We're getting more great ideas from you, so we'll be ignoring those more thoroughly over the next few months.

"Here are a few things I'd like you to know about our company:

"First, we are awesome. We are so awesome that even looking at us makes women's pants fly off. I'd lie to you, but I don't think... Oh, screw it. 'Year after year, our games finish at the top of the charts with the best ratings.'

"Second, man, this is fucking hard. We're just TOO successful, and that makes it difficult to pay you more money or give you sane hours. Seriously. It's like, really hard.

"Most importantly, we realize that we can't fix this with one email, despite management's new deadlines which say, 'To do: Fix this in one email.' This requires all of us working together to ignore the great ideas of you downtrodden workers. Also, keep in mind that there are huge benefits to working at EA, like free heart attacks and the feeling of complete apathy from releasing an average, but highly polished, product. By noting down all those who complain about their working conditions and torching them all in public, we will fix these issues and become stronger as a company.

"Thanks for taking the time to read this. We know who you are if you didn't."

That ought to clear up a few things.