EA Senior VP Rusty Rueff has responded to the
spouse & other attacks on the company's sweatshop policies:
”The last few weeks of reading blogs and the media about EA culture and work practices have not been easy. I know
personally how hard it is when so much of the news seems negative. We have purposefully not responded to web logs and
the media because the best way to communicate is directly with you, our team members.
As much as I don’t like what’s been said about our company and our industry, I recognize that at the heart of the matter is a core truth: the work is getting harder, the tasks are more complex and the hours needed to accomplish them have become a burden. We haven’t yet cracked the code on how to fully minimize the crunches in the development and production process. Net, there are things we just need to fix. And the solutions don’t apply to just our studios — the people who market, sell, distribute and support the great games that our Studios create, all share a demanding workload.
Three weeks ago we issued our bi-annual Talk Back Survey and more than 80 percent of you participated – much higher than the norm for a company our size. That tells me you care and are committed to making EA better. In the next 30 days we’ll have the survey results and we will share them openly with you by the middle of January.
Your feedback in the Talk Back Survey will help us make changes in the coming year, but we’re not waiting — some changes are already in the works in the Studios. Here are just a few:
The Studios will be moving to a consistent application of the Renderware Platform. We bought Criterion because we believe there is no better technology platform (25% of all games in our industry are being built on RW). Having a standardized technology approach will save us from having to re-invent the wheel over and over. It will save time and effort we used to spend navigating technology issues.
Every member of the Studio will have gone through Pre-Production Training by the end of December (Tiburon will be going through their training in January when they move into their new facility). We understand the toll taken on our teams when we change directions late in the process. We are putting more teeth in our preproduction discipline to ensure that we more fully define and agree (at all levels) on what the features of the game will be before we scale up teams.
We’ve started a Development Process Improvement Project to get smarter and improve efficiency. Just as we have revamped the Pre-Production process, we are now creating a Product Development Map that will provide earlier decision-making (on SKUS and game features), improve our consistency of creative direction, and lessen the number of late in the process changes, firedrills, and crunches. We will be rolling these changes out over the next year.
We are looking at reclassifying some jobs to overtime eligible in the new Fiscal Year. We have resisted this in the past, not because we don’t want to pay overtime, but because we believe that the wage and hour laws have not kept pace with the kind of work done at technology companies, the kind of employees those companies attract and the kind of compensation packages their employees prefer. We consider our artists to be “creative” people and our engineers to be “skilled” professionals who relish flexibility but others use the outdated wage and hour laws to argue in favor of a workforce that is paid hourly like more traditional industries and conforming to set schedules. But we can’t wait for the legislative process to catch up so we’re forced to look at making some changes to exempt and non-exempt classifications beginning in April.
So, there are things in the works short-term, longer-term, along with those ideas that will come from you over the next few months.
Here is what I know about our progress as a Company.
First, we have the best people in this industry and arguably in the entire entertainment industry. Globally, we are now over 5000 strong and we continue to win in the market place. Year after year, our games finish at the top of the charts with the best ratings. We like to compete and we like to win.
Second, we’re doing something that no one has ever done before: No entertainment software company has ever scaled to this size. We take it for granted sometimes, but it’s important to recognize this fact. Every day is a learning day with new competitors, new consumers, new people working on bigger teams – and all of this amid rapidly changing technology. We experiment, we learn from our mistakes, we adapt and we grow.
Most important: we recognize that this doesn’t get fixed with one email or in one month. It’s an on-going process of communication and change. And while I realize that the issue today is how we work – I think we should all remember that there are also a lot of great benefits to working at EA that are not offered at other companies. With some smart thinking and specific actions we will fix these issues and become stronger as a company.
Thanks for taking time to read this.