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"Challenge Everything" has turned to "Change Nothing and Outsource Everything"

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - Product Manager in Redwood City, CA
Former Employee - Product Manager in Redwood City, CA

I worked at Electronic Arts full-time (more than 8 years)

Pros

EA has always attracted some of the most brilliant designers, engineers and artists. The teams I worked with featured people with Masters degrees and Phd's in some of the mind blowing disciplines. They are generally a joy to work with, love quality and can solve some of the most intense problems. Amenities and benefits were great - but they needed to be in order to attract talent.

Cons

Firstly, regardless of CEO pitches, there has been a de-emphasis on process and product quality. Support disciplines like quality assurance and technical support have been relegated to "loss leader" departments under a central operations umbrella - instead of integrated functions of the development team. Add to this, EA's executive culture of lack of innovation and for consumers, this translates into rocky product launches, day one patches and lackluster (usually outsourced) post-ship support.

For employees though, there are several things to watch out for.

Firstly, be very purposeful about how you enter the company. DO NOT try to get in on the "ground floor" especially if you are capable and eligible of doing a more senior job! For the reasons stated above, at an executive level, they are squeezing more and more disciplines and job descriptions into the "nice to have / can cut corners" category of game development. It started with customer service - ah we don't need that. Then it moved on to things like QA/QC. (I was in a meeting where an executive said - engineers will just need to make less bugs!) Now you see junior engineers, artists, producers, designers being shoehorned into contracts and cut loose at 6 months - regardless of their contributions. Meanwhile, technical managers, senior development directors, executives and people managers are all trying to save their own jobs - leaving the little guy's a** flapping in the wind.

Next is the lack of training - especially at the manager level. Many "managers" are unwilling people who just happen to have seniority - but are not leaders or agents of change. The thing executive teams really don't understand at EA is that money and benefits are only one type of motivation. Being appreciated, taught new skills, opportunities to master new things - are all sometimes more valuable to employees. When an employee comes to you asking for more money, it's usually code for "you don't pay me enough to put up with you." EA's internal training core has all but become extinct. It's you vs. nature there at almost every turn.

Finally, be prepared for a "culture" that's actually comprised of two different schools of thought regarding game development: "we've done it like that in the past" and "we need to change it". Neither of these are bad, but you will find many decision makers are NOT critical thinkers who can apply these opposing approaches situationally. The clash is usually between the "old guard" who universally thinks that the processes they've used for the past 10 years are fine vs. the "new guns" who almost universally believe everything needs to be bulletproof and robust beyond the point of diminished return. There's rarely middle ground and instead of systematically working things out for the greater good of the product, decisions come down to:

- do what I say because I have the big stick (or know someone who does) and you'll be fired
- do what I say or the company will crumble in an apocalyptic fire
- do what I say because my last two mediocre titles shipped just fine
- do what I say because our competitor does it that way
- do what I say or I'll go behind your back to get it done anyway

Advice to ManagementAdvice

I understand sometimes decisions need to be made quickly, with less than complete information and not everything can be left to a group vote. But most situations I encountered during development could have been solved easier and with less pain by managers impressing upon their staff the challenges they are facing and included the smart people around them in constructing ways to help. Most of these brilliant people across disciplines actually WANT to make a better product and help the company make money. Seek training for YOURSELVES in ways to become better managers - I met only a handful of people in my 8 years that I actually enjoyed marching into HELL (crunch mode) behind. The others were politicking, sycophantic, thoughtless, spineless, clumsy idiots who couldn't lead their way out of a wet paper bag.

Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
Disapproves of CEO

806 Other Employee Reviews for Electronic Arts (View Most Recent)

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  1.  

    Much improved since the EA Spouse days

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Austin, TX

    I have been working at Electronic Arts full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Fair compensation, bonuses, and stock incentives
    Interesting technologies to work with
    Some very cool projects to work on
    Lots of great talent and great people to work with
    Good benefits including employee stock purchase program

    Cons

    Frequent changes in direction, one of the downsides of working for a publicly traded publisher
    Upper management still has the habit of chasing competitors

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Pick a direction and stick with it to completion
    Focus more on fostering innovation than chasing the competition

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    A big company with small company thinking

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Redwood City, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Redwood City, CA

    I have been working at Electronic Arts

    Pros

    Smart, respectful coworkers
    Lots of non-monetary benefits
    Flexible schedules
    Gorgeous campus

    Cons

    Not sure the management is taking the company in the right direction
    Lots of unnecessary and unproductive bureaucracy
    Not a lot of confidence in decision making on an institutional level
    Not a lot of professional development support or growth opportunity - you have to forge your own path without mentorship

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Choose a path and go down that path with confidence!
    Empower managers to make QUICK decisions
    Develop new IP and believe in it, even if it isn't successful immediately - look at Seinfeld, X Files, The Office...
    Most importantly - people want to play games that are FUN and interesting. They don't always have to look that good or have the most awesome tech if people can't put them down or become completely engrossed in the story.

    Recommends
    Disapproves of CEO
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