The President of EA Games has weighed in on the game development industry’s worst kept secret – that virtually everyone within it works into unsociable hours.
In an interview with Develop, Frank Gibeau said EA doesn’t force overtime on developers, and insists on having what he calls a “shared sweat equity” within the company’s employees.
“If the developers are pulling all-nighters and are in crunch mode, and the marketing guy is playing tennis with his girlfriend, that doesn’t build a very good dynamic,” he said.
“Something I learned early on as product manager is that you need a shared sweat-equity with the development teams in order to have their respect.”
Gibeau said that crunch work “shouldn’t be forced on developers”.
“Developers have to make that choice to work extra hours,” he said. “And by the way, I don’t get much sleep myself. The EA Games label has studios from all around the world so there’s always something landing in my inbox.
“I completely appreciate it when developers actually want to crunch to make a game work well, it’s their inspiration.”
Development crunch is a modern reality of game development – and so often stories of bad management practices and employee extortion never break beyond the walls of the employer.
Develop understands that Stuart Black at Codemasters, for example, has decided to leave the company partly because he had been working "non-stop into the late hours".
Gibeau said he wants to build the best development outfit in the world, and key to that is building bridges between developers and the publisher.
“EA we don’t think of publishing and development as separate,” he said.
“From a cultural standpoint, at EA publishing and development is now considered one and the same in terms of equality and everyone working together as a team.”