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no, crunch time is definitely a games-industry wide phenomenon… but the attitude of expecting you to work really hard but be well rewarded for it come review time is an American work ethic thing, I suspect

For example, during yearly reviews in Intel every manager and employee gets graded on their performance for the year, and the results plotted on a curve. Top 5% get promoted; next 10% get extra pay & stock; majority 70% get an index-linked pay increase (and possibly stock depending on division and company performance); next 10% get a gentle admonishment, index-linked pay increase (but no stock bonus) and pointers to do better; last 5% get a performance warning…. get two of these in a row and you’re out…

Like the man said – ruthless meritocracy. It rewards those who work and perform well, and trims off deadwood without mercy. And like EA, both Microsoft and Intel are brutally honest places to work. Not the places to be for shrinking violets…

You also have to bear in mind, that American corporations treat their staff very well in terms of bonuses, all that benfit-in-kind stuff, training and personal development, etc. Plus, they offer a lot of stability and predictable career paths – not things to be taken lightly in a what’s a very volatile industry