ArenaNet Reviews

Updated July 28, 2015
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Approve of CEO
ArenaNet Co-Founder & President Mike O'Brien
Mike O'Brien
33 Ratings

Pros
  • Work-life balance is fantastic 95% of the time (in 15 reviews)

  • Work environment that encourages creativity (in 9 reviews)

Cons
  • Unfortunate "sink or swim" approach can overwhelm new folks (in 6 reviews)

  • Upper management are virtually walling themselves off from the rest of the company (in 10 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

44 Employee Reviews

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  1. Great company, fun atmosphere

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Systems Engineer in Bellevue, WA
    Current Employee - Systems Engineer in Bellevue, WA

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Everyone is really engaged in trying to make the best game possible. Feedback from everyone is accepted and acknowledged. The culture is inviting.

    Cons

    The only con I can think of is the 401k match is a lot lower than other places, both inside and outside the gaming industry.


  2. ArenaNet Company

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

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Care for Employees Open Environment Want Employees to Succeed Great/Nice People Wonderful Work-Life Balance Always trying to improve with processes or employee engagement Leadership is all on the same page when it comes to beliefs, goals, and atmosphere Fitness center

    Cons

    I took the job because my core beliefs align with their beliefs so I do not have any cons at this time.


  3. Helpful (8)

    Poor Management Hurts Potentially Great Company

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

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Excellent benefits - paid vacation/days off, insurance is paid for the employee, the usual startup perks (game room, food). Excellent support staff. Overall work/life balance is very good.

    Cons

    Offices are super-cramped and noisy. Staff is divided by what you do rather than departments, which can make getting things done for a project difficult. Managers are overwhelmed and lack training in many departments. The CEO has his hands in too many things.

    Advice to Management

    Look at how other companies work. You're a big company now - it's time to start moving away from the startup mentality. Hire good people and trust them to do their jobs.


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  5. Helpful (4)

    Good Fun place to work

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

    I have been working at ArenaNet

    Pros

    Great work environment, everyone is very positive and encouraging. People willingly help each other on projects. The benefits package is decent. Upper management clearly presents its vision and goals. The projects we work on are very interesting.

    Cons

    Organization could be better. People sometimes have trouble adhering to deadlines. Some major projects could be better planned.


  6. Helpful (1)

    An Intern's Review

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Intern - Concept Art in Bellevue, WA
    Current Intern - Concept Art in Bellevue, WA

    I have been working at ArenaNet as an intern (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    The quality of the work and the people were excellent. The employees are all incredibly skilled at what they do, and as an intern/contract worker, you need to be proactive in meeting people and learning from them. If you are a people person you will be able to meet and discover all the amazing people that are quietly working in their respective departments.

    Cons

    I don't know if it is due to the Seattle Freeze, but it does take some people a bit of work to get to know them. You really have to try and put yourself out there to get that camaraderie going -- especially across departments. But as an intern, you should be doing this anyway.

    Advice to Management

    Breaking down some walls and promoting open collaborative work would not be a bad idea.


  7. A Vibrant and Positive Family

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Contractor - Anonymous Contractor in Bellevue, WA
    Current Contractor - Anonymous Contractor in Bellevue, WA

    I have been working at ArenaNet as a contractor (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    ArenaNet is a welcoming studio with a focus on providing a great work/life balance. Filled with brilliant and passionate people who in turn inspire you be your best, this company puts a lot of effort and time to promote a positive and collaborative work environment.

    Cons

    Parking is troublesome, but all in all the pros far outweigh the cons.

    Advice to Management

    The management continues to keep one of the largest and most successful game franchises nimble and balanced enough to develop some of the best creative content in the games industry, this is not a small feat and is deserving of praise. My advice to the management is to keep up the effort and work closely with personnel from all areas of the studio so you can continue to steer the ship true.


  8. Helpful (1)

    I've never worked with a smarter group of people

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Lead Programmer in Bellevue, WA
    Current Employee - Lead Programmer in Bellevue, WA

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time (More than 5 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    - I can't speak for other departments, but programming pay is competitive with other industries and the profit sharing plan gives a great incentive to produce results. - Very flat hierarchy, making it super easy to discuss concerns with Directors or even the head of the company. They're all friendly and interested in feedback. - Amazing coworkers who produce insane things on the regular. I've never felt dumber working somewhere and been so happy about it. - Room to grow in my career is limited to some degree, but has still been very useful and taught me so much. - It went away for a bit but the internal improvement program is back and providing some really interesting classes. - I've never been given so much freedom to solve problems however I see fit. It's rewarding and stressful at the same time, but being able to own those decisions is huge. - Work-life balance is fantastic 95% of the time. The other 5% is less overall time than at any previous tech job and I enjoy the work more so I don't mind it. Since it's rare crunching with a team is actually kind of a fun experience. - Great medical/dental benefits - PROFIT SHARING

    Cons

    - Management priorities can shift in opaque ways sometimes. I've brought this up as an issue and it's improved some, but not as much as I'd like. - Hiring is spotty, had a long stretch w/ no stable recruitment team and very few new people coming in. Better now, but could be more I think. - Parking sucks & is expensive for what you get, especially after the buildings started to fill up. - Free snacks are too much salty/sweet, not enough fresh fruit or other healthier choices.

    Advice to Management

    Making the priority process more transparent would go a long way towards chilling people out. Right now they seem to just appear and do all sorts of weird things to existing plans.


  9. Helpful (5)

    Like a family, Arenanet is sometimes dysfunctional, but overall a great place to put down roots in the industry.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Content Designer in Bellevue, WA
    Current Employee - Content Designer in Bellevue, WA

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time (More than 10 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    The talented people who work at Arenanet, and the camaraderie that results from such clustering of "great minds" is one of the single greatest perks of working at Arenanet. There's no shortage of great ideas within these walls, and plenty of opportunities to have your voice heard, and there's passion from everyone to put out great content, and to make Arenanet the standard bearer, not just in our genre, but in our industry. Tremendous degree of creative expression for team members, even those who are new hires. Arenanet does reward its people generously, if you have patience, in terms of compensation and personal career development, but that may require years of finding one's niche at the studio and investing in your career here so if you're looking for a quick boost, this is probably not the company for you. Arenanet is an open and welcoming studio, in terms of accepting diversity and displaying flexibility in one's lifestyle. Overall, work/life balance for most employees is outstanding compared with other companies in the industry, and studio management has always been dedicated to putting family first. Salary wise, Arenanet seems to pay somewhat below industry "standard" at a base level, but the profit sharing plan and other benefits more than make up for any discrepancy. For full timers, and especially those with a family, you cannot beat the health insurance coverage which the company pays for (full for employee/partial for family members). Virtually unlimited soda and snacks in a large "cafeteria" style space, and ability to order lunch "in" from neighboring restaurants is great and convenient, as are the frequent food trucks.

    Cons

    Studio leadership can suffer from not having their pulse on what's happening in the trenches, and have been known to swoop in at the eleventh hour to change direction on the development teams, which not only slows production but damages morale. One of the more prominent and ongoing long-term issues is the "flat" structure of the studio. While it serves some benefits (less management overhead), in the big picture view, it comes at the serious cost of not providing employees with clear career advancement. There's opportunities, but it's very much left to the employee to "chart their own course", and HR and department leads have not always done a fantastic job of helping the process. Certain departments/teams have been ridden particularly hard over the past couple of years (Living World), and been given sometimes contradictory goals and directives (make this more epic, but do less), resulting in overtime as the teams struggle to deliver both quantity and quality. There are tools and process issues for a number of departments, which the studio is seemingly reluctant to put our full weight in resources and capital behind solving. Parking issues (either you pay heavy fees for parking, or park in a neighboring facility and risk being towed) are annoying. The company sometimes spends money unwisely or prioritizes the wrong things (treats for the employees when teams are told they can't have another software license because of budgeting).

    Advice to Management

    Really the best advice I could give to upper management is to read the "Cons" sections of the reviews on here with an open mind and a willingness to take that criticism at face value. While it's true that some of the comments are exaggerated and hyperbolic, there's also truth here, and we can only get better as a company if we read those comments and come up with a plan to address some of them. If there's one thing I've learned in my long tenure at Arenanet, it's that everyone who works here is filled with a passion not just to make great games, but to make Arenanet a great place to work. Many of the cons you will read in my review, and that of my colleagues are things that lots of studios struggle with, so this is not about "bashing Arenanet". But I think we have room to aspire to rise above some of the common handicaps that have plagued the industry and to do that, it can't hurt to work on addressing the most common complaints of our personnel.


  10. Innovative, quality software

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Programmer in Bellevue, WA
    Current Employee - Programmer in Bellevue, WA

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time (More than 5 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    The company is always trying to push the limits in an otherwise tired genre, the MMO. The "Living World" releases are one of the few examples of successful episodic content in any genre, let alone MMO.

    Cons

    There are a lot of small teams, and sometimes some of the smaller teams get less attention than the big teams.

    Advice to Management

    Grow into a multiple IP company.


  11. Helpful (5)

    A studio on the cusp of greatness hindered by poor management decisions.

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

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    * The studio is filled with talented and passionate people everywhere you look. * Good benefits if you are full time. * Healthy, supportive atmosphere among the employees. * Great hours for some departments, especially given the industry norms. * Good career opportunities for many departments. * When everyone on a team is in sync they can produce amazing results. * Some key management figures truly care and it shows in the success their teams have.

    Cons

    * Severe reliance on contract/outsourced positions completely tanks morale across virtually every department. * Resources are spread too thin. Nothing seems like a real priority, and many teams cannot meet unrealistic expectations because of it. * Most of the upper management seems disconnected from their employees and the customers. There are a few definite exceptions, however. * Upper management seems to be unable or unwilling to change, either because they are ignoring reviews like these or not seeing them. Employees certainly aren't telling them these things, because they do not want to risk getting on someone's bad side and losing the political game. * Poor compensation for most departments. * When problems are presented to HR they seem to ignore them. If these problems are not being ignored it seems they can do nothing about them, which is even more frightening.

    Advice to Management

    My disapproval of the CEO is not directed toward just the CEO, but the entire management team. * The company needs to get its priorities straight and actually focus/commit to them. * Reduce the dependence on "temporary" contract labor. Talented people are slipping through your fingers constantly because of it. 90% of the TFT positions have no legitimate reason to not be full-time. This kind of self-induced churn hurts everyone and probably doesn't help the bottom line in the long-term. * Actually pass these reviews along to the people who need to see them. Nothing seems to be changing despite dozens of reviews with similar concerns and frustrations. The employees (myself included) love this studio, the product, and working together. Invest in them and they will invest even more in you.



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