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Big Fish Games Reviews

3.5
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Big Fish Games President & CEO Paul Thelen
Paul Thelen
49 Ratings
  • Helpful (6)

    Comfortable enough culturally but a messy and stagnant operation

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Oakland, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Oakland, CA

    I have been working at Big Fish Games full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    * Great work-life balance. Overtime is rare and the pace of work is pretty much the same week in week out. People are generally treated like human beings.
    * The people you get to work with are mostly very nice. It’s fun to hang out together on breaks or work trips, play Smash Bros. and pool, try to come up with game ideas.
    * I can’t speak to others’ experience but I make fair money for what I do, on top of bonuses, options, and other stuff like occasional free trips.
    * The Oakland building is very nice and is stocked with your usual tech company array of drinks and treats. Free lunch every few weeks. Ergonomic everything. Good neighborhood with an ok amount of food options. Convenient commute options. The masseuse is great.
    * It’s fun working at a company people have heard of. I see people playing my game on transit, in the elevator, on TV.

    Cons

    * Company culture consists of 1) maximize revenue 2) don’t get sued. Everything we do is a means to one of these two values.
    * The studio leans heavily on a single product. We only get to work on one app, all day every day. Customers get squeezed constantly with sales and promotions in order to maintain record-breaking revenue. Other projects that don’t make the same ludicrous level of money get canned.
    * Development is orientated towards adding more and more and more new features to the flagship app to try and increase revenue. There’s little concern with maintaining existing features or dealing with known problems unless they seem to impact the bottom line.
    * Managers and HR are very cautious about dealing with employees who are angry or lazy; the preferred approach appears to be “do nothing and maybe they will calm down/get back to work/find another job”.
    * Project/Product management is very opaque, making it appear chaotic. Or maybe it is chaotic, it’s hard to say from outside of management. Some PMs demand constant reporting from teams without really explaining why it’s necessary. Some PMs let their feature team do whatever, or nothing, and then just let the whole project flop over the finish line weeks late.
    * Our development process is the wild wild west. Maybe some people can deal well with no code freezes, lots of frantic hotfixing, and development environments that don’t behave the same as the production environment, but I’m not a fan. Nothing particularly seems to happen to those who check in breaking changes all over other people’s work, so there’s no real incentive to play nice together.
    * There’s no mobility either within departments or between them. Solid employees who turn out good work get passed over because upper management haven’t heard of them or can’t imagine people in roles other than where they were hired.

    Advice to Management

    * Stop being wimps about employees. Hire only people everyone is actively excited to work with. Do not allow people who are underperforming or problematic to rot away in junior roles of their department hoping they will quit; manage them. That’s why you get paid to be MANAGERS.
    * Clear out some technical debt so that engineers can actually deal with each other’s code. Spend more than one week a year on polish. Let’s stop having to fix the same problems over and over.
    * Make a concerted effort to provide employees with a career path. Nobody here seems to be going anywhere.
    * Try to get and remain excited about something besides revenue. I am motivated to work on cool new features because they are fun and innovative, not because of the way they will drive D7 retention or increase our conversion rate.


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