Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Didn't Have Time For This, Really


I'm busy as hell this week--busy beyond hell, actually--so I was going to write the blog in advance and auto-post. I had it all planned.

Then Michael Pachter had to go and be a gigantic douchebag.

Now, before I get into this, let me say this: I like Michael Pachter, even though I'm calling him a gigantic douchebag. People misunderstand the role of an analyst, and they misunderstand him. Sure, he makes calls that turn out to be wrong (hugely wrong, at times), but he's not getting paid to be right--he gets paid to be interesting, and to draw attention to his firm.

Yesterday, though, he lost his mind.

If you want to read the career-damaging meltdown in detail, go here. Otherwise, just read on for the "douchening."

First off, by way of explanation, this was Pachter responding to the whole Team Bondi situation. In short, Team Bondi was the studio that developed L.A. Noire, and after the game was released, it was revealed that crunch mode basically lasted forever.

Read that link if you want to understand just how foul the working conditions were at Team Biondi. It went well beyond the pale, even for an industry that is often accused of brutal working schedules.

To Pachter, though, unpaid overtime is apparently no big deal. Nothing is a big deal, apparently. Take a look at these excerpts:
If you’re getting into the industry, you are going to work plenty of hours.

I hear from lots of people on Twitter about these Team Bondi guys in Australia, [hearing complaints about how] they’re young and right out of school, well, don’t pick that as a profession then.

If your complaint is you worked overtime and didn’t get paid for it, find another profession."

I had no idea Michael Pachter was an expert in Australian labor law. Who knew? Seriously, WTF is he doing here?

But wait, it just gets better. Here's more:
“I do get that it is a bad and unfair business practice to work 18 months non-stop overtime, I don’t think anybody was entitled to overtime pay.”

The point that everyone is missing in the LA Noire scandal, Pachter said, is that the Team Bondi development staff will receive generous bonus packages.

That claim has not been substantiated. Numerous alleged former Team Bondi staff claim they had not been paid bonuses. These accusations have not been substantiated either.

“I just don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for people who say ‘I worked for such-and-such, and I didn’t get paid, and that’s not fair’,” Pachter continued.

“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.

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

“I think [the point] that everyone is missing is that, if a game is good – and LA Noire was good – there will be a profit pool, and there will be bonuses,” Pachter continued.

Wow--how much stupid shit can one person pack into only a few statements?

So the business practice of  "18 months non-stop overtime" may be "bad and unfair", but no one is entitled to overtime pay?

Oh, wait, I think I get this. Gaming company employees should be grateful that they have a job, even if they're working (allegedly) 100-hour weeks, even though they're getting paid for 40. Because if they were hourly employees, their jobs would get downsized. Gross oversimplification rim shot!

Yes, because no one's gotten laid off in the gaming industry in the last few years, right, Michael?

Seriously, his whole set of statements is so screwed up and twisted that it makes no sense whatsoever. Companies should apparently be able to whatever the hell they want to do to salaried employees, without limits, with no recourse available to the employees.

What is this--1850?

Even worse, to claim that the bonus pool is sweet honey and will make everything right is totally ridiculous. For one, bonus pools are based on sales, not quality. A team could make a 95 rated game, and if it doesn't sell, they get a sock full of poo for a bonus.

Sorry, I know you worked 8,000 hours in two years, hoping for a bonus. Here's some poo. You might still be able to use the sock.

Plus, I had no idea that bonus pool were automatically equitable, but apparently they are, just because they're bonus pools. Hey everybody, it's magical thinking!

Another problem with bonus pools is that they don't exist for everyone. Or maybe you're the guy who worked on the game for three years, worked 4,000 hours in unpaid overtime, then got released.

No worries, though, because if you're good, you'll still make a ton of money. Michael Pachter says so!

Not to press the point, but how many people, really, make "a ton of money" in the gaming industry? One tenth of one percent? What fantasy world is he living in?

He's not done, though. There's one more parting shot:
Pachter also said game development studios should not be protected by a trade union.

“Sweatshops should have unions but games studios, which tend to pay people a lot of money, shouldn’t,” he said.

What the hell is "a lot" of money, anyway? Is that more or less than a "ton" of money? And what is a "sweatshop", because apparently, "18-months non-stop overtime" doesn't qualify.

Why does the law decide where unions can exist, anyway? Fu-- labor law. Michael Pachter will fix this disgruntled employee shit, stat.

The entire screed by Pachter is so logically illegible that he must be living in Wonderland. Perhaps he's getting advice from a caterpillar.

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