A mate of mine in the US posted this a little while back. He probably won't mind me copying it here to illustrate my viewpoint...
I worked in the game industry for about a decade. I was force out about a year ago, and I finally decided that I'll never go back
The truth of the matter is simple; more than any other industry i've seen, video game companies are run by scumbags. I've worked at trading firms, moving billions of dollars on the stockmarket and coming into work hopped up on coke, and they were run by better human beings.
I like working hard, it's something my family baked into me at a young age. I actually enjoy working 12 hour days 7 days a week. I know i'm crazy for it, but i've always enjoyed doing my job. Working in the game industry, i probably averaged sleeping at my desk at least 1 night a week, often twice; there were plenty of times where I would come in on a Friday and leave work on Tuesday.
The work was hard, the hours were absurd, but that's why I liked it. It's also the reason most people aren't fit for working in this industry. The average person just won't tolerate working like a slave for 25% below industry average wages.
If that was the biggest problem, I'd work in games for the rest of my life. The problem is, the industry is run by assholes. Every developer regularly lays off their staff every time a project is finished. You get a job offer, the company lies about their overall health and job prospects, you work your ass off, then you get laid off. Having your benefits illegally canceled while still having the premiums drawn from your check is standard practice.
It's pretty censored heartbreaking when you have to come home and tell your wife that she needs to cancel her doctor's appointments because your employer has been taking money out of your check, but not paying the insurance premiums.
In my last position in the industry, i was asked to drive 6 hours for an interview on Saturday, and told I needed to start that Monday; so we packed up and moved across the country. After the first few weeks on the job, I was eventually told that I needed to be on site anytime anyone else was working. If, on a given saturday, someone comes into the office at 9AM - Noon and someone else is there from 11AM-6PM, I was stuck there all day babysitting. One day I went out to grab mcdonalds for lunch and one of the owners came into my office screaming at me because "what if something went wrong while you were gone?".
When the company failed to land their next game, they had to lay off 80% of the staff. They didn't have the decency to tell me directly, I had to find out about the layoffs when a friend at another developer sent me an email saying "We hope to work with you again".
There's all sorts of other nonsense going on, most of it tends to be either illegal or highly immoral. I've had companies where they decided to cancel everyone's vacation on a whim, I've taken large paycuts, I was told by one employer that they would "try to get me the weekend off" for my own wedding, the next employer gave me the day off before my wedding only because i said i'd be taking it either way.
The owner's philosophy is "If you don't like it, sue us". It's not uncommon to work with people who have lawsuits pending against 3-4 former employers. They never amount to anything, as the owners just declare bankruptcy and open a new studio. You'll notice most new studios are opened up by people who have owed previous studios; it's pretty amazing how you can keep running studio after studio into the dirt.
Even if you try to protect yourself from this kind of nonsense, the studios either lie or become insulted that you would even suggest the industry is unstable. I had an interview with Bungie a few months back. I know they're working for activision, haven't announced any projects, and haven't had any official "work" in years. So I asked them about the financial situation of the company, how many projects they're working on right now, when they expect to have the next project out the door. The guy's response, and i quote "Haha, nice try. You actually expect us to give out that kind of information?". Why yes, I do expect you to give me some sort of reassurance that i'm not moving across the country just to be laid off. The thought that the mighty Bungie may someday face the same financial trouble as the rest of the industry was actually insulting to them.
The way I've been treated is actually better than the average developer. I've never actually missed a paycheck, i've never had a former employer try to countersue me. But frankly, i'm too old for this censored; i'm tired of being treated like garbage. I can continue to work in the high-tech industry without being associated with these assclowns.