It's been published many times before how the Development teams are treated/mistreated during the development of a game, but I'm going to chime in and give my opinion on the matter and lay out the facts for those who don't know yet.
A typical Development Cycle for a game is anywhere between 18 months and 36 months, with the average being about 24-26 months, though there are cases where the time is drastically shortened or even increased, it just depends on the Publisher/Developer and the politics of the situation.
At the beginning of development for a game, things can usually go relatively smoothly. There's pressure from up above to get going on the project but there's nobody breathing down your neck 24/7 yet. As time goes on, the stresses of working start to take their toll. I'm sure almost everybody has heard the term "Crunch Time" before. "Crunch Time" varies in definition depending on the Developer & Publisher.
Smaller Developers are typically laid back and just let games be completed when they're completed. This is especially true with most Indie Developers, as they don't typically have big Publishers hounding them. When Publishers like EA or Activision are on board, though, things can get very rough.
During "Crunch Time" under EA, myself and the rest of the team were subjected to their "normal procedural workings" as they called it. In reality, this meant we were REQUIRED to work in excess of 60 hours each week. While that may not sound that bad, the part that always pissed me off to no end as well as several others, was that once we hit 40 hours, anything beyond 40 hours was UNPAID.
EA and Activision are both guilty of making overtime mandatory but not paying you for the overtime. If you had a problem with it they would not-so-kindly show you the door. There's been a lot of press over the actions of EA in recent years, but I can tell you from first-hand knowledge that these tactics are still practiced by EA and Activision, as well as occasionally at THQ (It was used during Homefront) and I'm sure a few other Publishers as well.
Working in the Game Industry can be hell, mostly because of the pressure the Publishers put on the head of the Developer who in-turn puts pressure on his team to satisfy their demands. Even with all this, though, I love doing what I do because I still feel a sense of freedom in creating a rich, vibrant story that captivates people, as that is where I think Gaming really takes off.
Games that are about nothing but action like "Stranglehold" or "Haze" or "Fracture" are just horrible. Multiplayer gaming is fine, but the market is so saturated with those types of games as well as blind shoot-em-ups that the brand has gotten stale. Games like "Dead Island" and "Fallout" and "Skyrim" and especially "Heavy Rain" are true examples of artistry. I'm hoping to see more of those in the future and if I'm lucky I can be apart of the team for another great game.