Pachter: crunch comments were taken out of context
Earlier this week, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter made public his views on the ongoing crunch debate in the latest of his regular video Q&A sessions for Gametrailers. Pachter's typically outspoken comments have been met with strong criticism from within and without the industry: in an opinion piece yesterday, Ubisoft developer Charles Randall descibed the view that crunch was inevitable as "bullshit".
However, much of that ire is based on the gaming press reporting on the video, rather than the video itself. Speaking to us yesterday, Pachter told us he believed his remarks had been taken out of context. "I was surprised by the reaction," he says, "but it seems that most who had a serious problem with my comments took them from articles, not from the video.
"The response on the GameTrailers website was overwhelmingly positive, suggesting that those who saw my comments in context understood the point, and those who saw them out of context were outraged.
"While I don't like to see workers treated unfairly, I have to acknowledge professionally that their recourse is to unionise or quit. I don't think unions work in the game industry, so I suggested that they quit."
The reason Pachter is one of the industry's most controversial figures is his willingness to give strong opinions on a wide range of issues, which is entirely in keeping with his professional duty to give informed industry advice to investors.
He is famous within the industry for the speed of his responses, and with our exchange of emails with him yesterday beginning at 3.30am LA time, we couldn't help but ask just how he fits fielding press enquiries around his day job and personal life and whether he, too, works a lot of overtime.
Pachter insists we make it clear that he feels well compensated for his time, and is in no way "comparing my lot with the exploited workers at Team Bondi." During the week, he is sat at his desk by 4.15am every day. "On 'easy' days, I leave at 4.30pm," he says. "On 'normal' days I work until 6, make phone calls to clients on the drive home, and have dinner with my family. On 'hard' days – when there is breaking news, or companies report earnings – I work til 8 or so." He works a further eight hours on weekends.
"I travel 60 nights away from home per year, with 48 constituting client visits," he continues. "On those days, I work generally from 7am til 10pm. I travel exclusively on my own time, so when I go to New York in a few weeks, I'm on the 4pm flight, landing at midnight in Manhattan.
"I work around 70 hours a week half the time, around 78-80 hours a quarter of the time, and around 90 hours a quarter of the time.
"No complaints, I'm extremely well-compensated."
Does the above explain Pachter's views on crunch? No, but regardless, it's at once a fascinating insight into how one of the most vocal members of the industry works, and a much-needed reminder that unpaid overtime is hardly exclusive to the business of making games: in fact it is the rule, not the exception, and we'll be looking at this in more detail in the coming days.