Pachter Says Team Bondi "Wasn't Entitled to Overtime Pay"

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Pachter Says Team Bondi "Wasn't Entitled to Overtime Pay"

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Industry analyst Michael Pachter says game developers have no business complaining about working unpaid overtime hours during crunch time and if they don't like it, they should find another job.

The Team Bondi debacle that blew up last month, with employees coming forward to complain about brutal, near-abusive working conditions and a drawn-out crunch period that saw employees working 110-hour weeks without being paid overtime, is probably the biggest scandal to hit the development industry since EA Spouse blew the whistle on EA's poor labor practices back in 2004. But one man who's not buying into it is well-known analyst Michael Pachter. He doesn't deny that it happens, he just doesn't think it matters.

"I've never heard a developer say 'I don't work overtime and I don't work weekends,'" Pachter said in the new edition of his GameTrailers show Pach Attack. "If you're getting into the industry, you are going to work plenty of hours. If your complaint is you worked overtime and didn't get paid for it, find another profession."

"I think there's a legitimate complaint if crunch time is never-ending," he continued. "Crunch should be the last three to six months of game development. I do get that it is a bad and unfair business practice to work 18 months non-stop overtime, [but] I don't think anybody was entitled to overtime pay."

If you're curious about why Pachter feels this way - and you should be - the short answer is that what developers don't get in overtime pay is generally more than made up for by hefty bonuses, particularly for successful triple-A releases. "If you want to be an hourly employee, go build automobiles. And what will happen is they'll close down your plant some day and you'll be out of work," he continued. "The cool thing about this industry is, if you're good, you'll make a ton of money. I think [the point] everyone is missing is that if a game is good - and L.A. Noire was good - there will be a profit pool, and there will be bonuses."

As to the question of unions in development studios, which would presumably bring a rapid halt to the sort of behavior that allegedly went on at Team Bondi, Pachter was equally clear. "Sweatshops should have unions but game studios, which tend to pay people a lot of money, shouldn't," he said.

The International Game Developer's Association launched an investigation into the labor practices at Team Bondi in June.

via: GamePro

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Sorry what? How aren't they intitled to over-time? If you're working 110 hour weeks without being paid overtime, you're being used as a slave.

Sometimes Michael Pachter needs to shut his face.

I've come to regard the title "Industry Analyst" as media code for "random clown who may or may not know how to use appropriate jargon".

Seriously, I stopped listening to these guys a long time ago because they spend an awful lot of time being wrong for people who're supposed to know what they're talking about. Bad analysis is worse than none at all, IMHO.

Saw this on GAF, frankly seems like he is letting his personal politics shine through here, he should stick to predicting the obvious.

First off, I thought game developers didn't make that much on average. I could be wrong, I just remember some news piece on this site saying something along those lines. Secondly, I don't think that anyone who doesn't work in the games industry should say anything about what people in it should make other then the customers. And no, I don't count an 'industry analyst' as working in the industry. Finally, he's saying that people should be expected to work for up to six months of hard work at 110 hours a week without overtime? Seriously? Why don't we get him working that much without overtime in a job that doesn't involve making things up all day?

Another problem is that people working on a project normally don't have control over other aspects, at least not that much. Then, not only can they not effect the entire product to make it a 'good game' as he suggest will make them money, but they can't read into if consumers will buy it or not while they're working. Honestly, how much did LA Noire sell? I'm actually curious about that. It was a good game, but that doesn't mean it sold well. Plenty of good games get glossed over by the mainstream (though these normally become cult classics and eventually becoming played by everyone, though that's well after the makers would have gotten their bonus).

And for me the worst part is he mentions working in the auto industry, then says 'they'll close the plant down and you'll be out of work.' But how much better is it then what's going on in the game industry right now? Plenty of companies have been closing down, some are being bought out, and many are just doing what they can to survive. So what he's describing is basically the same thing as what's happening in the game industry!

Seriously, this guy needs to realize he doesn't know everything. Of course, I could be wrong. He could be entirely right for all I know, but I doubt it. The points he makes aren't very good anyways.

I like how they've scattered strategically placed game paraphernalia behind him to make it look like he knows anything about what he's talking about.

Seriously though, his excuse is 'you don't get to complain because there are bonuses?' So yeah, slave away for 110 hours a week with no overtime, and if the game sells well, and the publisher doesn't cheat you out of your entitled bonuses (cough cough Activision) then it'll somehow be justified?

I'm guessing the only better job one can think of is the payment structure for 'analyst': "Work whenever you feel like you need to relieve your bowels by having people pay you for the refuse you produce as though it were some kind of coherent and logical advice or insight."

Edit: "loaf of bread". Touche, Captcha.

Radelaide:
Sorry what? How aren't they intitled to over-time? If you're working 110 hour weeks without being paid overtime, you're being used as a slave.

Sometimes Michael Pachter needs to shut his face.

Ever been on a salary? I have been on several. In a salary contract it often says that you need to work "the hours nessicary" Now I don't what know their contracts say but in the past I have worked 80+ hours a week with no overtime and no bonus, it was the only way to get the work done. If your offered a salary then you need to be prepared for that kind of thing.

Pachter has always prided himself on knowing how to piss people off.
You hear that?
He's a troll.

Bonuses are a scam, always.

Sure, some people manage to get them, but they are a calculated business decision to ensure they don't have to pay people a fair wage for a fair days work.

"We pay you extra for selling more..... but if someone else screws up, we don't advertise it properly, it just doesn't sell because of other games released.. whatever.. you don't get squat"

Hourly pay, set hours, overtime.. that is the ONLY acceptable method of working.

The only people I've found who defend other practices are the people who have been lucky, or who are for some reason happy to give up ridiculous amounts of time without getting compensated.

Edit : Note, I'm not saying Salary is unacceptable, but it should ALWAYS be Salary based upon the actual hours worked not the ideal hours worked. If the company is giving its staff such huge workloads that they consistently work longer than the hours their pay is based upon, they need to start paying more.

I don't think any industry should treat employees in this way in the least.

Not when a small small percentile get very ...very rich off of their underlings.

To then promote a industry, nay, a society, Who's views become as follows.

Go to work every day do a ton of work off the clock for free I am a good worker. Never take vacation days or use sick days, I am a good worker. Work your ass off for those 2 days a week where you do house work and pay bills, because you are a good worker.

Honestly the higher ups must be laughing their ass off seeing how hard we have to work to be a "good worker", Must be nice.

"The cool thing about this industry is, if you're good, you'll make a ton of money."

Mr. Industry analyst, you know how many GREAT games get made and make next to nothing?
This is just a stupid statement sir and if you believe it, you spit on Okami and many other wonderful games that didn't make a "ton of money".

GOOD DAY!

OT: I wonder if he's ever been in crunch, because from what I hear, it's not fun.

Game studios should have Unions, everything else does.
Granted I like the idea of a union but despise the way they are usually implemented but hey maybe that means no ultra high studio closure rate!

There should be a law that limits the hours a salary employee can work because obviously in this industry salary = exploitation.

This is really stupid. This practice of perpetual crunch time is just detrimental to all developers that end up doing it. Do you really expect people to continuously work every single day, for 80+ hours each week, for six months, and just accept it? "Oh yeah, I'm working my ass off for weeks on end, working in shit conditions, still getting paid the same no matter how much I work, and if the game sells well I might get bonuses, but it happens all the time! It's okay!" And guess what, this shit doesn't always happen with the bigger games. This shit easily happens on the low-end, budget titles that nobody gives a shit about. EA Spouse showed us that.

Is he really saying "Either choose to be abused in the workplace and work your ass off for months on end for a petty salary, or just find another job!"? Because that shit is unacceptable in any workplace. If you would rather be unemployed than working in a studio, especially in this economy, something is going on with the studio and it is not the employee's fault. Just because it is common in this industry does not mean it is ever justified. When shit hits the fan, sure, some crunch time is necessary for a few weeks. But not for 6 months just to get the game out of beta. Crunch time does not fix shitty management.

If you're curious about why Pachter feels this way - and you should be - the short answer is that what developers don't get in overtime pay is generally more than made up for by hefty bonuses, particularly for successful triple-A releases. "If you want to be an hourly employee, go build automobiles. And what will happen is they'll close down your plant some day and you'll be out of work," he continued. "The cool thing about this industry is, if you're good, you'll make a ton of money. I think [the point] everyone is missing is that if a game is good - and L.A. Noire was good - there will be a profit pool, and there will be bonuses."

from the looks of it, they are salary employees and not hourly. It is entirely possible there is no clause for overtime work. Most people on salary pay do not have an option of overtime. Sucks, but that is life. And when they signed up for the job they would have known (by reading the employment contract) that there would be no overtime.

I hate to say it but I agree with Pachter... There are a number of salary jobs where people work insane work hours without overtime. If they don't like it, they get another job.

except when they don't give you your bonus.
which could always happen, especially if a studio treats it's employees like dirt. If the triple a title tanks it's more likely the fault of someone higher up who did get his overtime payed than of just some random programmer who still deserves to be paid for the work he put in, even if the game doesn't sell well.

then again, the guy also can't decide whether nintendo is doomed or the unbeatable top dog.

orangeapples:

I hate to say it but I agree with Pachter... There are a number of salary jobs where people work insane work hours without overtime. If they don't like it, they get another job.

Which is illegal. The choice between your job and not working for no money is unacceptable.

Also Pachter claims that developers make a lot of money...I've heard nothing but the opposite.

edit: and the first comment on GT.com is:

As a former developer, I have to say for 95% of the game developers out there who don't work at the studios that make money like Infinity Ward, everything you said is totally false. One thing you're right about is don't get a job in this industry. I got out after being abused for nearly a decade and being deprived of a life outside of work - I only wish I had gotten out sooner.

Just like I thought.

Why do they still write articles about this guy its already been made clear he knows little if anything about the industry with all the crap he spews. I'm not saying that salary emploees are entitled to over time if its not in their contract but you've really got to look at your development cycle if you need to have people work 90+ hour weeks for 6 months because something clearly isn't working, its also killing a lot of the talent average career is like 5 years because the hour get so bad fo so long. I also understand the need for crunch if it happens occasionally but it shouldn't 6 months of 110 hour weeks to make a release date.

kalt_13:

Radelaide:
Sorry what? How aren't they intitled to over-time? If you're working 110 hour weeks without being paid overtime, you're being used as a slave.

Sometimes Michael Pachter needs to shut his face.

Ever been on a salary? I have been on several. In a salary contract it often says that you need to work "the hours necessary" Now I don't what know their contracts say but in the past I have worked 80+ hours a week with no overtime and no bonus, it was the only way to get the work done. If your offered a salary then you need to be prepared for that kind of thing.

While that is true and it's not as bad as it sounds, there has to be some kind of legal limit to what "necessary" hours can be asked of you. I don't think it's legal to have people work 20hr days 7 days a week, where I live anyway.

orangeapples:

from the looks of it, they are salary employees and not hourly. It is entirely possible there is no clause for overtime work. Most people on salary pay do not have an option of overtime. Sucks, but that is life. And when they signed up for the job they would have known (by reading the employment contract) that there would be no overtime.

I hate to say it but I agree with Pachter... There are a number of salary jobs where people work insane work hours without overtime. If they don't like it, they get another job.

If they are salary employees, then yes. I have to agree with both you and him. Rather odd to get a job and then complain about the fact that you didn't get overtime pay ex post facto when you knew in the first place you wouldn't.

But something does need to change in the industry if this is becoming the norm

SwishiestB0g:
"Game studios should have Unions, everything else does.
Granted I like the idea of a union but despise the way they are usually implemented but hey maybe that means no ultra high studio closure rate!

I disagree. Not everything has unions. Nor should everything. I admit, I like the idea of a union. Provided joining is optional. That's fine. But the way they act often ammounts to holding work hostage. And I cannot respect that.

EDIT: Do be clear, I'm not anti-union. I just support people's right NOT to be a part of one if they do not wish so.

It's BS to rely on bonuses to make up the extra. It's not something so easily enforced and thus can be abused. Besides, they should be paid for the time regardless. Suppose it's bad, then they suddenly are out of luck for all those hours of work?

Simply saying that it's the way the industry works is a bad argument. The idea is that if that's the way it works that it's wrong.

Lastly, unions could be needed regardless. Sure one could expect needing to put in overtime. That doesn't mean that it cannot turn out that the company is going too far in what it insists. And for things like that a union would be good.

orangeapples:

from the looks of it, they are salary employees and not hourly. It is entirely possible there is no clause for overtime work. Most people on salary pay do not have an option of overtime. Sucks, but that is life. And when they signed up for the job they would have known (by reading the employment contract) that there would be no overtime.

I hate to say it but I agree with Pachter... There are a number of salary jobs where people work insane work hours without overtime. If they don't like it, they get another job.

Honestly, my problem with this is not that it's legally wrong, which it likely isn't, but the fact remains that the employees were being overworked to a rediculous degree. Lets do some math:

24 hours per day, at 7 days a week, so 168 hours total. Take 110 hours for work, and that leaves 58 hours free each week. Now, that doesn't sound so bad, then we have to factor in sleep. From what I understand, you're supposed to get 8 hours of sleep each night to stay healthy, so that's 56 hours off, leaving each employee 2 hours. And then you have to figure getting to and from work, bathing themselves, eating, and other things you need to do, and you end up with literally no time for anything else (even bordering on negitive time, which would come out of sleep most likely). And then they get no time for their families or friends. Their lives literally become work, sleep, work, sleep, work, sleep.

Now, I could understand doing that for a week, maybe even a month at the end of development. But for three to six months straight? How is that not overworking your employees!? I know you may say 'Why wouldn't they quit?' Well, they still need to pay for things like their houses, their families if they have one (or other expenses), food, etc. What else could they really do? Try finding another job in a very uncertain company when the game's industry has a lot of problems?

Again, legally this might be allowed, but it just isn't fair to the workers, especially when the promise is 'you might get money if the product sells well,' which is something the employees can't do much about. Yes, LA Noire ended up being pretty popular, but what if it hadn't? I'd say that wasn't hard to imagine, as it's the first big-budget game to do what it did.

pachter is known for being stupid but this just makes me want to punch his stupid face. This is why game devs need unions

-Dragmire-:
While that is true and it's not as bad as it sounds, there has to be some kind of legal limit to what "necessary" hours can be asked of you. I don't think it's legal to have people work 20hr days 7 days a week, where I live anyway.

But that's what many developers do, if Team Bondi is any indication.

CM156:
If they are salary employees, then yes. I have to agree with both you and him. Rather odd to get a job and then complain about the fact that you didn't get overtime pay ex post facto when you knew in the first place you wouldn't.

The grievances aren't due to crunch times in general. It's due to exceedingly unreasonable amounts of crunch time. If your development makes it so that you have to work 80+ hour weeks, on weekends, for 6 months straight, something has gone terribly wrong with your management. Shit hits the fan every now and again, a build collapses, code needs to be fixed ASAP, that's understandable. But these stories are not about that kind of crap, this is about the guy working on the "Dora the Explorer" video game in perpetual crunch time, and when the game eventually fails at retail the guy gets no bonuses that Pachter is so eager to tout.

But something does need to change in the industry if this is becoming the norm.

But that's just it, this kind of stuff is part of the norm now. The only reason this kind of shit hasn't been called out is because developers have gotten used to it and nobody is openly speaking about it. This shit has to change, and it has to change now.

I wish I was a industry analyst and got paid to say asinine bullshit like this.

He's not wrong. These guys aren't paid by the hour. Even if you're in a union and you take a salary, you are probably not getting overtime. That is one of the disadvantages of a salary. My dad worked in construction for nearly 30 years and didn't take salary pay, even though he was a foreman. He knew what most people find out - if you take a yearly salary, they own you. Granted the advantage is when hours go down, you still get paid the same, plus there could be other benefits (like bonuses) depending on the situation.

I'm as pro union and pro rights as the next guy. Just be prepared for your AAA titles like Battlefield, Modern Warfare, Red Dead, GTA, and so forth to go up in price. Any expenses companies take from managing unions is passed directly to the consumer.

Jumplion:

CM156:
If they are salary employees, then yes. I have to agree with both you and him. Rather odd to get a job and then complain about the fact that you didn't get overtime pay ex post facto when you knew in the first place you wouldn't.

The grievances aren't due to crunch times in general. It's due to exceedingly unreasonable amounts of crunch time. If your development makes it so that you have to work 80+ hour weeks, on weekends, for 6 months straight, something has gone terribly wrong with your management. Shit hits the fan every now and again, a build collapses, code needs to be fixed ASAP, that's understandable. But these stories are not about that kind of crap, this is about the guy working on the "Dora the Explorer" video game in perpetual crunch time, and when the game eventually fails at retail the guy gets no bonuses that Pachter is so eager to tout.

There should probably be some kind of official government enforced limit to how long "crunch time" can last. It can be different per medium but a 5 year production shouldn't have a 1.5yr crunch time. This would allow devs to maintain a salary based work plan but not abuse it.

you know its all gonna change once someone dies from exhausion

I want to punch that man, use my taser on his crotch, and then whack him in the shins with a skillet.

The idea that a company should be allowed to force employees to work 110 hours a week staring at a computer screen without overtime is BULL SHIT. If the system allows that kind of servitude the system, needs changed. Buuut regulating ass holes exploiting workers is socialist so i best shut up before i cross the wrong person.

Perhaps he should get a new job, because being an "analyst" for video games certainly doesn't warrant anything above minimum wage, right?

*pulls out dartboard*

As Jumplion stated above, this sort of corporate behavior has to stop. Amongst a slew of problems, overworked and exhausted employees do not exactly perform the best. Crunch time? Seriously, that is when you need everyone working at maximum efficiency (as opposed to just working to put in the time and get whatever done and only done), not underpaid, overworked, and utterly demoralized.

When he non-answered someone concerning the Ubisoft always on DRM Pachter showed his true colors. He seems to be a "Money is only for the Rich" type, and the rest of us should be grateful for the scrapes we are given. This current opinion comes as no surprise.

Crono1973:
There should be a law that limits the hours a salary employee can work because obviously in this industry salary = exploitation.

There should be a law that limits the hours Pachter can make incorrect statements because obviously in this industry, stupidity = high-paying analyst gigs.

Okay, so what about all the employees who worked but don't get a bonus because they couldn't handle being used as slaves and left? And what if the game doesn't do well so nobody gets a bonus? No, the bonus thing needs to end and just be replaced with overtime for these people. Maybe it would also help some of these game studios get their shit together in terms of management because they can't manage to pay everyone 70 hours of overtime for 18 months.

Also, this is coming from some guy who is basically the Miss Cleo of video games. Call him now for your free readin' to see what obvious thing he has to say next! Maybe he should go try a job that would require him to do some actual work and then be forced to work 110 hours a week for 18 months and see if he still think he should just suck it up and not complain.

SwishiestB0g:
"The cool thing about this industry is, if you're good, you'll make a ton of money."

Mr. Industry analyst, you know how many GREAT games get made and make next to nothing?
This is just a stupid statement sir and if you believe it, you spit on Okami and many other wonderful games that didn't make a "ton of money".

Okami wasn't a wonderful game, it was a bad game with horribly broken controls that didn't deserve to make a ton of money. I know you people really love your "cult classics" when you have one, but remember that they're usually that way for a reason: because they aren't particularly good games. And Okami is even worse than the usual cult classic. I don't even see how people can defend this game, it's not even an opinion based thing. The controls flat out don't work most of the time, making the game extremely frustrating, unenjoyable, and it even borders on unplayable in some sections. That makes it a flat-out undeniably bad game, not just a decently made game that at least works but some people like and some don't.

You know why Mr. Patcher can say what he said? Look at him. You can tell that he hasn't worked a full 40-hour week in his life, or at least not in the past 20 years ... or more!

He has the nerve to say that because he drives around in a brand new Mercedes Benz and live in a posh house, all paid off, and make oodles of dollars a year to sit around in an office and say that people who do ACTUAL WORK 110 hours a week (out of 168 hours that are in a week total) "Have no business complaining about working unpaid overtime hours during crunch time and if they don't like it, they should find another job."

Fuck this asshole! Make this dude work 110 hours a week without getting paid extra and we'll see how much he likes it!

Not jumping specifically on either side of the fence but-

Off the top of my head, if people have too many working hours that are unpaid, perhaps you shouldn't set the release date so optimistically? I mean I'm not saying things are set-in-stone, but sometimes things just aren't gonna work out.

But that ties in with how I hate constant releases of dime-a-dozen 60$ pre-order titles, with little no to risks or innovation. I hate mercantilism >_>

---

Also, overtime is one thing, but any reason for not getting paid overtime kinda passed me... why would that be okay? ... Though on the other hand it seems like it'd make more sense to pay people for milestones in development, rather than hourly, which would make them want to draw out the time.

This guy is a fucking wanker.

Here're some more of his pearls of wisdom.

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