On the 10th of November, in 2004, the spouse of an Electronics Art employee anonymously posted a thorough diatribe against the suffering caused by Electronic Art's work practices. Her story begins with an explanation of how her significant other happened to work at EA: the small game company he worked at was destroyed by "foul play" by a large game publisher. EA offered him a job and he accepted it.
The only warning he received about the crunch mode he would soon be in was one question in the interview process asking how he felt about working long hours. Since almost every gaming studio faces crunch mode at the end of a long project, he thought nothing of the question.
Not soon after starting work, he was working under "mild" crunch conditions of 8-hour days, six days a week. The team was told that by working these extra hours, they would avoid the big crunch associated with the end of a project. The managers had even set up a date at which this slight crunch would end. The date passed and other dates set also passed; the next change to the schedule was a move to 12-hour days, six-days a week. People started falling sick.
"Now, it seems, is the 'real' crunch, the one that the producers of this [video game] title so wisely prepared their team for by running them into the ground ahead of time. The current mandatory hours are 9am to 10pm -- seven days a week -- with the occasional Saturday evening off for good behavior (at 6:30pm). This averages out to an eighty-five hour work week. Complaints that these once more extended hours combined with the team's existing fatigue would result in a greater number of mistakes made and an even greater amount of wasted energy were ignored."
- ea_spouse, EA: The Human Story
Further, for all this extra work, employees do not receive any overtime, compensation time (balancing time spent overtime in the project with days off after the project), or additional vacation/sick days. EA also announced recently that employees will no longer even be offered a few weeks off after the completion of their projects.
She finishes by stating that these labor practices are indefensible, especially since EA has no financial basis for forcing their employees into crunch mode all the time: the company has an annual revenue of approximately $2.5 billion.