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EA's Riccitiello Offers Policy Suggestions For Encouraging U.S. Tech Jobs
EA's Riccitiello Offers Policy Suggestions For Encouraging U.S. Tech Jobs
September 22, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

At a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today, which Gamasutra listened in on, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello offered a vision for how changes in immigration, education and tax policy could help support the high tech sector and the economy as a whole.

After offering a "sincere debt of gratitude" to the Chamber for its support in the recent Supreme Court decision on First Amendment protections for games, Riccitiello launched into a discussion of how EA and the technology industry in general have weathered catastrophic change and come out stronger.

The "explosion of cheap powerful broadband computers consolidated into a network" has quickly disrupted and transformed many industries, from newspapers to movies to video games, Riccitiello pointed out.

While that disruption has created some losers in certain slow-to-change companies and sectors, he said the new models that sprout up in their place "are often bigger, better and offer better jobs."

Other sectors of the economy and the government should embrace this kind of disruptive change, Riccitiello said, rather than tinkering at the margins and implementing half-measures. He went on to offer specific ways in which policy makers could help make the U.S. business environment more conducive to job creation.

First, Riccitiello said the U.S. should alter its immigration policy to allow the world's most talented engineers and college graduates to work in the country. Despite higher wages and great benefits, Riccitiello said EA has trouble recruiting enough of the kind of talented engineers he needs in the U.S., because they are barred from working in the country.

For many of the best engineers Riccitiello comes across, since "they can't work at my company here, they will work at my company in Shanghai," he said. "We can't hire them in this country and so we literally hire them somewhere else. It is direct exportation of jobs."

Riccitiello offered his support for the Staple Act, which would effectively "staple" a green card to the back of any PhD granted to an immigrant graduating from a U.S. school, allowing her to work in the country.

The U.S. could also effect long-term change by refocusing education policy. Many of the 5,000 engineers Riccitiello said EA will hire in the next decade are not in high school yet, and they will need to be especially strong in science, technology, engineering and math.

"The world is increasingly being divided into those who understand numbers and those who don't," Riccitiello said. While parents and educators should be encouraging students to study art, music and literature, they should be doing so only "after they understand their math homework," he said.

Lastly, policy makers could encourage job creation in the U.S. by altering tax policy. He took issue with a recent New York Times piece that suggested there was something wrong with the game industry taking advantage of tax breaks offered by various localities.

Corporations are "rational actors" he said, and "companies move to locations where they find agreeable tax treatment, and that's not going to change," he said.

The U.S. corporate tax rate is currently the highest of any of the 10 countries in which EA operates, save Japan, and that situation "encourages CEOs to export jobs... I hate to say this, but jobs go to the best economic environment."

Riccitiello pointed out Dublin as a relative haven, where the tax rate is half what can be found in the U.S. and the education and immigration policies create an environment where smart engineers from 30 or 40 different nationalities can come together to work, supporting the surrounding economy.

While saying that he "doesn't want to come off as a CEO coming in and giving orders," Riccitiello said we all have work to make sure the economy and job situation are as robust as they can be. He said he had enormous optimism for the country, and encouraged policymakers to embrace change and avoid getting entrenched in old ways of doing things.

"It's going to be scary, but we can do this," he said.

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Jeffrey Crenshaw
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I can think of a few easy ways to create jobs if that is _really_ your concern John. Heck, I can think of an easy way to create 173 new median-paying jobs:

"In 2011, John S. Riccitiello received $5,910,501 in total compensation. By comparison, the median worker made $33,840 in 2010. John S. Riccitiello made 174 times the median worker's pay."

Also, it is not rational to dog-headedly pursue one number such as profits while ignoring other factors in life. And yes, I know how numbers work.

"Job creation" - what tiresome bullshit rhetoric. Jobs aren't created by CEOs or companies, they are created by consumer need and claimed like land by companies. Then we are supposed to feel grateful that we have to please suits and fight each other for table scraps while the CEOs get millions. And if funneling money to the rich is so good at creating jobs, why hasn't the bailout debacle (collusion of government and business to steal _OUR_ money) helped unemployment?

Anyone who wants to disagree, please do so in an insulting way befitting a high schooler and misconstrue my points like this guy did:
Ruling_Fueled_Sonys_TOS_Changes.php. It's suprisingly entertaining, and I need to vent :).

Evan Combs
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"John S. Riccitiello made 174 times the median worker's pay."

You do know that that is actually low for a CEO of a company EA's size? In 2008 the average CEO was making over 900 times the median worker's pay.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"You do know that that is actually low for a CEO of a company EA's size? In 2008 the average CEO was making over 900 times the median worker's pay."

No, I did not know that :(. I thought the ratio was closer to 400 times the median worker's pay (although that could be the average worker's pay).

Harris Javed
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@Jeffrey and @Jonathan:

Both of you seem to be at each other's neck. Please try to calm down a bit.

John McMahon
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Yes we can, John, yes we can. ;)

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If he is able to import workers, how much is he going to pay them vs. current wages? Is now a good time to propose change that will fill current and future jobs with foreigners instead of some of our unemployed citizens? I can't imagine any politician supporting that.

I think everyone agrees that students in the US are falling behind in math and sciences, but saying it is more important that art, music and literature is like saying red is more important than blue. Even in our own industry, many games need more artists, musicians and writers than developers.

As for the STAPLE act, it has it's own issues: 1) I can predict PhD farms used as a shortcut for anyone with a job offer (the Act doesn't require the school to be accredited, for example) 2) The approving authority is switched from the US Attorney General to the ... Director of Homeland Security???? Where did that come from? and 3) What kind of job *requires* a PhD? How many of those open up every year?

Finally, how many techies with PhDs are currently on EA's international payroll, and how many more would they add in the US?

Can anyone else see this loophole: EA wants to bring 100 of their favorite developers from Random Country to the US. They get a Masters from their local Degree Mill, fill out a form at the new EA Quasi University for a PhD in Technothingawho, and start working? I can imagine that will do great things for salary profiles of every tech-based job in the US (hint: every drug company, bio-anything, microchip, software, hardware, and any industry that wears a lab coat to sit in front a computer.)

I dunno, maybe I am being harsh, but does anyone really want to rely on the good nature of for-profit companies to *not* do what I just wrote?

Justin Nearing
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Companies aren't going to hire stupid people from out of the country in order to game the system. In most cases its a person that would be the perfect fit for the job who is extremely hard-working and incredibly talented. And if these people are not being paid competitive wages, they have the option to walk across the street and get a job at a competitor.

These are going to be growing middle class citizens directly contributing to the economy. The only question is whose economy.

Michael Joseph
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Indeed. Why be a racial minority second class citizen in the west when you can return home and be first class?

"But America is so great, why on earth would you want to go back... (trying to hide the disdain in her voice) there?"

"Because of what you just said."

Arnaud Clermonté
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1. When hiring, EA don't care much about degrees, they'd rather ask about work experience, and they actually test people during job interviews.

2. EA managers are not xenophobic idiots, so they don't care where workers come from, and neither should they.

There's no such thing as "our citizens" or "foreigners" for people who have better things to do with their time than nationalist or xenophobic concerns.

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I think you guys missed my point. Why is John specifically promoting a program that doesn't currently affect him? We all agree he is not currently hiring PhDs, so what benefit does he get if it passes?

As far as importing "cheap" labor, let's look at these facts: 1) Outsourcing development today is an accepted business practice. 2) Most of the major obstacles to outsourcing are based on distance and time: it is too hard to communicate and accurately gauge progress. 3) What if you could move an entire outsourcing company to the US?

EA has enough properties already and they keep buying up companies left and right. What if you had your own local programmer farm? If they had an army of programmers they could quickly shift from one company to the next, as each project finishescancels, why would they hire and train new employees? You get all the cost benefits and it removes the time and distance constraints.

Companies pack up and move to save money. Amazon is ready to move from Washington to California if they get tax breaks. Zynga will leave San Francisco if it doesn't get to keep the ones it has. THQ moved to Canada to save money. If any of you think EA will not do everything in its power to save a few bucks, you are in for a big surprise.

Bob Johnson
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We should hire foreign workers to replace CEOs of major corporations. They would be smarter, work for less and work harder.

It would do wonders for the economy.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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This is the best comment I've heard on the topic in a long time. I hope you don't mind if I use it; I will credit you :).

Michael Joseph
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Interesting. Maybe they are just as cuturally depraved as the math challenged workers they despise. When you have mountains of money in the bank its easy to fool yourself into thinking you're exceptional and superior.

Ive always believed that in a workplace, attitudes and behaviors are spread from the top down. I think it could be true in the greater society as well. Poor leadership has lead us to this state. The bottom is a reflection of the top. And people like Riccitiello are the leaders... are at the top.

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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You might want to look into the social & political climate as to why smart, educated people might not want to move in the USA.

Ben Hopper
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Strange to see someone from EA talking about creating jobs when his own company makes a habit of closing studios down after acquiring them.

Jennifer Dowding
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Bob Johnson and Mathieu MarquisBolduc - just wanted to say. Great comments.

Michael Joseph
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You tell'em Mr Riccitiello!

Lets keep creating mind rotting Mass Effect Need For Speed Battlefield clones so kids will continue to neglect their homework and worship the grunt peon they will eventually turn into after mommy and daddy kick them out of the house.

I find it hillarious how CEOs like to bad mouth American workers by effectively calling them lazy, stupid and overpriced (in not so many words, but it's there) and on the other hand reject their own culpability for the decline as they churn out pure junk (lets imagine "pure junk" is anything that has zero nutrional benefit for the mind and is pure "fun") that contribute to a culture of frivolity, superficiality, selfishness, greed and general cultural decay.

I think it is very true that math and science degrees have declined post Reagan but i think the reason why is predominantly a result of corporate greed and anything goes capitalism. Intelligence, reason, rationality, maturity, science, principles, wisdom and pursuit of knowledge have all been undermined, attacked and rediculed by popular culture (aka corporate media) and our politics. It's not a matter of conspiracy, it's just greedstatuspower. Sex, violence, fast cars, stimulants, drugs and alcohol, incivility and mayhem sells so let's "give the people what they want" and let's not worry about the long term consequences. We'll just cry PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY and live in neighborhoods with private security.

And where are the artists with their heroic works growing bolder and louder one after the other with increasing frequency drumming awareness to these issues until the sonic booms can no longer be ignored? A great many are just part of the machine now. Some are helping tuck the little tykes around the globe into bed at night with surrogate mommy advertising and surrogate father junk entertainment whispering to them sweet lullabies until they get them to sleep.

William Collins
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Minus all the name-calling, this is a pretty good presentation of opposing viewpoints. I challenge the most vocal of you to consider the stances and evidence cited by the other as I'm sure that one side isn't totally correct in all of their assertions (Is that ever the case?): "Listening to both sides of a story will convince you that there is more to a story than both sides."

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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That sounds like a good idea, and I know that both Jonathan and I are exaggerating our stances from anger. I can't seem to help but get caught up in things some time (kind of told myself not to back down a few months ago as a mantra and, well, taking that to the extreme causes nothing but a mess).

Well, it's exhausting, so I will stop with the ad hominem even if others continue. It's only fun in jest :(.

"I challenge the most vocal of you to consider the stances and evidence cited by the other as I'm sure that one side isn't totally correct in all of their assertions"

I would be glad to reset and do that here. Is this a case where we have to argue for the other side or where we just try to argue for our side starting with their talking points instead of ours?

William Collins
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Jeff, I thought your arguments were well presented and underlined with passion (not that my opinion should count for much). Your experience in the industry makes them even more powerful imo. I'd definitely read a blog post of yours on this subject if it existed. I tend not to use the terms "debating" and "arguing" as they can misconstrue one's intent from expressing your concern/explaining your position to trying to convince the other person that you're "right". And not to drop too many quotables but, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still" I'm not sure if Jonathan is in the industry or not, but if so it'd help his credibility in this discussion (some links would, too) because right now it appears as though he's just playing the devil's advocate with no intent of offering up solutions. Carry on, Gamasutrans!

Simon T
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Keep the middlemen, and solve the wage disparity?

I think everypne except for Jonathon "Ad-Hominem" Gillian could agree with that.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Yes, that seems like a step in the right direction. I know for me wage disparity isn't even the most important thing; it's the side effect of who calls the shots, which comes from wage disparity (someone who can retire now has less to lose by fighting than someone living paycheck to paycheck who has to be complacent against their integrity or lose their job).

What about a system where corporations are taxed less if they actually create (I still don't like that word, but w/e) more jobs? It really feels like job creation is the excuse that companies use to minimize government regulation, but they will gladly take hundreds of billions of dollars with unemployment being largely unaffected in the aftermath.

As for the game industry, I think we need to invert the power system, and it has to be through collective action. This is not unethical, it is not even socialist or anti-capitalist, and it is not doomed to failure and corruption if we act responsibly. We _need_ a guild, not a union but a developer-run not-for-profit organization. The guild's goal at first should be to fight tooth and nail to improve QoL in this industry, internationally (if working conditions for our siblings in other countries are improved, then business here can't continue to threaten us with cheap outsourcing). We should employ publishing talent for a branch of the guild that is for profit (the games sell better, they make more money) but regulated so we don't end up with the current system where almost all profit goes to publishers and all risk goes to studios. While we're at it, the guild should enforce sharing of software patents, truly neutral arbitration in place of corporate-sponsored binding arbitration -- heck, anything we can think of to make this industry more fair. Sharing code and control scheme standards instead of hoarding them. Happily leaving a project after our contract is expired with centralized guild planning to move onto other projects instead of getting laid off with no future plans. We make the guild, we make the rules.

EDIT: I'm going to make one. Now. I am going to make a game developers guild. I spend too much time talking about how it should happen. I don't know how to do something like that, but it is time I fail trying instead of waiting in cowardice for "the right time".

Please feel free to give ideas, or (constructive) criticism.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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" I'm not sure if Jonathan is in the industry or not"

Well Jonathan Gillian is apparently not a common name combination, and some Googling leads me to believe he works as a "Reporting and Testing Analyst at Wachovia Retirement Services". This is from a profile with the same name on linked in, and matches with other cross references (I'm not going into details for sake of privacy, but anything I've found is public info from simple Google searches that you can duplicate in five minutes). So yeah, I could have the wrong guy, but that's what it seems like to me.

I'm not going to use that to invalidate your opinions Jonathan, but it does make me wonder why you are so insistent on fighting here, and it does provide discrepancies in some of your stances. For example, you made a snide comment in another article about being more valuable than me for having kept the same job while I've gone through three (if you've never been laid off, maybe you don't know how painful that feels), yet I doubt the banking industry is anywhere near as turbulent as the gaming industry. You knew what I did for a living at the time (and you certainly knew what you did), so that seemed like a hurtful cheap shot. I've found several previous comments on Gama from you as well, and many of them were scathing (including a couple directed toward me that I've forgotten about). You seem to get irritated easily, but I guess I do too :). I get irritated because of frustrations in my life. Maybe you do too, and maybe we can "start over" and even help each other with our frustrations? I assure you I don't want to take away everyone's freedoms, I am just heavily invested in cultivating the industry to be healthier for its workers and to produce a healthier variety of games for its consumers. Surely we can find a peaceful middle ground?

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Ok, sorry to keep posting here, but I am obsessing over this article and want to look at something that hasn't been discussed yet.

"that situation "encourages CEOs to export jobs... I hate to say this, but jobs go to the best economic environment.""

Is this scaring anyone else? He's nonchalantly using the passive voice as if he doesn't have free will over his actions, as if trying to hide a threat. He is publicly coercing government officials with no fear of retribution; these are scary times.

Senad Hrnjadovic
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I understood this in another way: If one country does not allow you to assemble the team you would love to have the most for one game/project and another country does allow exactly this it seems very natural for me to chose the country that makes it possible. (in this case Ireland)

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Yeah, I understand why he wants what he wants, I just don't think CEOs are always entitled to what they want, even though they seem to think that.

At any rate, my respect for the US law is essentially abolished after Sony taught me that corporations can change tort with a few sentences and Riccitiello shows just how easily corporations can change tax laws (I seem to remember EA doing similar tax bullying in the Bay Area).

So I guess when I start my own company, I am going to not register with this corrupt government and I am certainly not going to pay taxes, since the law is obviously optional now. And if anyone tries to come after me, I'll go down in a firefight before I go to jail. It would be sad for my life to end so young, but I am not going to live complacently in this corporate dictatorship.

If Riccitiello is above the law, then so am I.

Mark Harris
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Blame Canada? The Canadian government in several provinces has been giving massive tax breaks along with direct cash infusions to video game companies for years. Hence the steady growth of the video game industry in Canada. I don't have the numbers, but I assume that the reason this continues is because the net benefit of that industry growth is a positive to those governments. For example, the extra payroll and income tax from the workers and jobs brought in by the corporate tax breaks is more than the loss from the corporate break (seeing as how a majority of company cost is labor); also the benefit to other businesses in the area gained from having well-payed (yes people in the video game industry are well payed comparatively) citizens living and spending money locally spurs even further economic growth and tax revenue. This little circle of growth makes the area more attractive to other businesses and educated, motivated citizens.

Long spiel for a simple point, nearly all governments have some sort of economic growth plan and it always involves lowering tax barriers or providing low-cost loans to bring in businesses. At the risk of starting an insane flame war, taxes on businesses are an absurdity anyway. The increase in costs associated with taxes is just passed on to the consumer in higher prices and wastes an enormous amount of resources on both sides during the collection/avoidance process.

Anywho, I think "tax bullying" is a misnomer, since all municipalities willingly engage in these sorts of deals.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"taxes on businesses are an absurdity anyway."

In that case, so are taxes on individuals. If only I had the clout of Riccitiello to explain to the government to stop stealing parts of my income that they can not maturely manage. Income tax is even more directly passed on to the consumer, so we should abolish it first if your line of reasoning is true (and I'm not sure that it's not). Of course, what that comes down to is whether you believe the government serves a useful purpose in redistributing wealth to balance the inherent luck in capitalism to avoid extreme poverty, forcing payment of "insurance" systems such as fire fighters and police that would not otherwise get paid as people evaluate the odds of needing them on an individual basis as negligible, and to help regulate payment for things that would be hard to track, such as road use and the act of governing (legislation, presidential income, etc). Contrarily, our country is in more debt than it has ever been, and the best we can do is to agree to limit _how much more debt we are willing to go into_, so perhaps the government is not as useful as it wants us to believe.

"The increase in costs associated with taxes is just passed on to the consumer in higher prices"

There have been plenty of tax breaks for our industry in the last several years, and console games still cost sixty dollars across the board. I don't see things changing if EA gets its way. I also don't see employee income improving -- in fact, I would imagine that most employees wouldn't even be aware of the tax breaks, seeing as EA is a huge, distributed organization. So where does the tax break go? I see Riccitiello and other higher-ups walking away with any gains they can negotiate. I see money that could go to roads, police, firefighters, etc now going into the pockets of the already rich, who, let's be honest, have shown that they have no interest in making any more jobs than they need to support their own wealth. Of course, I must restate that I have not been impressed with our government's ability to maturely moderate its own spending, so I'm not sure which is the lesser of two evils -- I just know that where there is evil, we are duty-bound to fight it. If you see things differently, I hope you can convince me I am being pessimistic, because that would make me happier -- but I don't think I am.

"it always involves lowering tax barriers or providing low-cost loans to bring in businesses."

What bothers me though is when a business gets envious of tax breaks in other states or countries and bribes local governments with the threat of moving an already existing business and unemploying people. This is distasteful and disrespectful to the workers that helped make your business what it is. We are still in a high-unemployment economy; we need to worry about stabilizing and making sure that everyone who can work can find a job, which is only going to be easier if we can ensure that everyone who has a job keeps it. Once things have stabilized, then we can start getting excited about economic optimizations and expansions, but not in such a way that the already rich benefit more than they are putting in.

"Anywho, I think "tax bullying" is a misnomer, since all municipalities willingly engage in these sorts of deals."

I disagree that the cardinality of occurance has anything to do with the validity of my description. Threatening to lay off citizens for more money is like threatening to beat someone up for their lunch money (except obviously worse). If anything, "tax bullying" makes light of how detestable this strategy is.

Mark Harris
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"In that case, so are taxes on individuals."

I agree. The system of taxing at the scale of hundreds of millions of points and tracking that across the dispersal of income is as inefficient as it gets. Taxation at point of sale is much more efficient for all involved and cuts down on the points of failure open to fraud and evasion. Suffice to say that we are probably in agreement on the inefficiencies of government and the frustration that provides throughout the tax base. The usefulness of various subsets of governmental action is a longer discussion.

Specifically pursuant to taxing companies vs. individuals : it is an inefficiency in the system. Since we currently tax individuals as well as companies, and since companies spend a lot of resources to reduce their tax burden and then also pass that tax burden on to individual consumers through price increases, we have a needless complication of the system. Why throw a second, even more inefficient tax layer on top of the direct tax on individuals? It might make us feel better that the tax bill is going to the corporation, but does it actually benefit us in the end? I would argue that it does not.

"There have been plenty of tax breaks for our industry in the last several years, and console games still cost sixty dollars across the board."

Two things : first, console game prices have increased significantly BELOW inflation over the last decade. So, since the price of console games hasn't increased along with inflation, but the costs of creating the games has increased roughly in line with it, where has the profit gone? Part of that margin has been made up for by some of these tax breaks, making for fewer layoffs/wage slowdowns/hiring freezes than may otherwise have occurred. That's a logical leap, I know, but it is at least logical, wouldn't you say? Also, I mentioned that increased cost would drive up the end result price of goods, not that decreased cost would drive down prices. Slowing sales drives prices down, decreased cost with steady demand only increases profit, which can then be used for increased R&D or expansion.

Second, tax breaks in Lousiana contributed to EA opening a large QA facility there. This selfsame facility is (according to what I've read) ready to expand soon due to a continuation of those tax breaks. I'm sure the QA staff in Louisiana is happy to have the jobs.

"What bothers me though is when a business gets envious of tax breaks in other states or countries and bribes local governments with the threat of moving an already existing business and unemploying people."

If a company in another state offered you the same job you have now but with a higher salary and better benefits, you would consider making the move, would you not? You might even ask your current company for an increase in compensation so that you didn't have to move, right? This is the exact same thing. If the opportunity cost to move is too high, then companies won't bother. However, if they can save enough money to justify the move then more power to them. It sucks for those employees who can't move with the company, but it's great for the new employees in the new location. They might even be able to hire even more employees with the money savings from the tax break, thereby increasing the overall employment rate. To be clear, I sympathize with anyone who loses a job through no fault of their own; but are they more important or more "entitled" to a job than the guy in the state to which a company moves?

"I disagree that the cardinality of occurance has anything to do with the validity of my description. Threatening to lay off citizens for more money is like threatening to beat someone up for their lunch money (except obviously worse). If anything, "tax bullying" makes light of how detestable this strategy is."

The "threat" as you name it isn't "we'll lay off these employees without a tax break", it is "we'll hire employees in state X instead since it's better for us". The overall number of employees doesn't just decline in these situations, they are shifted to a different place, and sometimes increased specifically because of the tax breaks.

We can debate for days on the ideal format/level of taxation and I'm sure we could both rail on and on about the inefficiencies and irresponsibilities of our wonderful governors at all levels. However, for this specific topic I don't see the "evil" in the corporations. It is no different than any individual who moves for a better job or a lower tax rate or a better school district or whatever.

*As a caveat : Corporations are groups of people, run by people, and so display the same breadth of qualities found in all societies throughout the universe. Some are good, some are bad, some are smart, some are stupid, some are patient and forward thinking while others are rash and see only the moment. Such is life.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"The "threat" as you name it isn't "we'll lay off these employees without a tax break", it is "we'll hire employees in state X instead since it's better for us"."

I don't feel like this is an even trade, ethically speaking. I can say from (admittedly anecdotal) experience that getting laid off hurts more than being unemployed. I would not be as happy knowing that my job came so directly from the loss of anothers'. Even if two people traded jobs, there is something lost as they each have to learn how to do the others' job. Stability has its own value, for the company and for the worker. And really the worst thing about all this is that the worker doesn't have any votes on such important topics even though we _are_ the company. I know it's not "slavery" because you can choose where you work (though even that is difficult now), but it is in the direction of slavery; soft-slavery, I call it, since you have to work but must pick work from a set of companies that are growing ever more powerful and disrespectful to their work force. I don't see how this can end well, CEO pay to low-level worker pay has been getting more and more disproportionate these past couple of decades, and I do not believe it is for the best. I don't believe technological progress needs such a lop-sided workplace hierarchy, and even if it does -- I don't want bigger, flatter TVs, I want more pride in my job and to feel less like a cog in some machine designed to make a few people rich from my work. Especially in the game industry, where we should be going to work excited to put our creativity to good use!

I don't think I would leave a company for money that I want but don't need if it cost everyone else their jobs. In fact, I would even risk my own job to do what I believe is right. In further fact, I did. I lost my last job standing up to management and telling them that they were neglecting the player, disrespecting their employees, and making crappy decisions and crappy games. Whether or not that was true or just my incorrect opinion, it was my conviction, and I saw it through even though I was scared. My boss cut off my email access and made me go home early so I couldn't communicate with my peers (if I was in the wrong, then we should have been able to handle it democratically). My boss even got mad at me for publicly suggesting forum software for tracking design ideas and commenting on them, but I still don't understand that one. I was mind-blown. They were unapologetically trying to censor and oppress, and I'm sure they could come up with any number of "but if we don't do this, then this and this and this will happen, and people will lose jobs" excuses. You can justify anything with enough words, but at some point we have to agree to a set of principals we will hold to and try to work around. It feels to me like the heads of corporations are just setting their own principals behind closed doors and changing the rules as they see fit, then coming up with some causal rhetoric to placate the middle class into agreeing and to motivate the lower class and unemployed class into directing their anger toward the middle class (see? If we take away these peoples' jobs and you guys work for less, then _you'll_ be employed! We, the rich, are your buddies!).

Sorry to be all over the place, and thanks for replying. There's just a lot of stuff that bothers me about this industry and this economy.

c anderson
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Major issue - if it was just importing the "best and the brightest" I wouldn't care (well, a little). But to build a project you often don't need the best, in fact having too many of the best can actually cause projects to fail. You need competent programmers, artists, etc to do the grunt work; I don't think there is a shortage of competent folks here. He wants to be able import everyone.

Arnaud Clermonté
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" having too many of the best can actually cause projects to fail "

Wow, never heard that one before.

So what kind of people do you think Riccitello is trying to hire that is not already available in his country?

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I have to agree C. Too many "best and brightest" can cause bottlenecks in the process which could end in a bad product or no product at all. I'm reminded of the line in Blade Runner "...the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long." Also what is the measure for best and brightest? If its just going to be based off of having a PhD then its going to be a bit "faith based" and not based around actual results.

Arnaud, clearly Riccitello has stated as was reported in the article that the example was base around the ability to "hire people not even allowed to live in this country"

FTA:For many of the best engineers Riccitiello comes across, since "they can't work at my company here, they will work at my company in Shanghai," he said. "We can't hire them in this country and so we literally hire them somewhere else. It is direct exportation of jobs."

It his way of saying I can't insource them so they have to be outsourced. It may be factually correct, but its genuinely dishonest to the talent already within this country. Also the perks they would have to received for just being a worker in this country are costly; is not that what CEO have been crying about politically all this time?

I don't think I could ethically stand behind his STAPLE rule. It may seem generous but its not compassionate to the current economic challenges that have killed jobs and promises for future jobs in just 4 short years. It's a little too bottom line innovator for me personally, and something that sounds very much like the think tank policies that come out of the CoC as of late.

Craig Page
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His suggestion for lowering their corporate taxes would work, at least until they find another country with even lower taxes. :)

Mark Harris
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Hence the reason corporate taxes are a joke. However, tax competition is alive and well even at the state and municipality level. Texas has seen more job growth over the last 5 years than any other state in the country, largely due to a favorable tax policy. This policy extends to more than just companies, though, since Texas (along with some other states) has no state income tax. For me personally, if I were to make the exact same salary in Texas as I do in Georgia, I would immediately get an 6% raise solely because I wouldn't be paying my 6% state income tax.

Now, to be fair, I pay that 6% on my AGI so it's not a full 6% of my salary we're talking about, but it is still a good chunk of change. Also, I'd have to compare things like sales taxes and property taxes (which by anecdote I hear are higher on average in TX than in GA) to get an accurate picture of the benefits. However, it's definitely a nice marketing pitch both for TX and the companies there when trying to attract talent.