Sony Online Entertainment

  www.sonyonline.com
  www.sonyonline.com

Sony Online Entertainment Reviews

Updated November 4, 2014
Updated November 4, 2014
84 Reviews
2.6
84 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley
John Smedley
64 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • It's game development, so that's always a little more fun and laid back than other companies (in 7 reviews)

  • At least it's a fairly stable job that allows you to enjoy living in San Diego (in 7 reviews)


Cons
  • Upper management is too far removed from the actual development process to understand its huge flaws (in 11 reviews)

  • Senior management had no idea who you work (workflow) or some of the abuse you put up with dealing with customers (in 5 reviews)

More Highlights

30 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1.  

    Great company to work with a little bit disorganized on the payments.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - 3D Artist I in San Diego, CA
    Current Employee - 3D Artist I in San Diego, CA

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment as a contractor (less than an year)

    Pros

    You get to work on cool projects. They were very willing to accommodate my needs to work from home. Art team was really nice and helpful.

    Cons

    I am working as contractor for them. I don't know if that is the reason but my payments are almost always late and I have to keep reminding the accounting department to pay me.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The only advice for me would be to keep an eye out on their accounting department.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2. 2 people found this helpful  

    Get out as soon as you get on a development team.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Game Designer in San Diego, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Game Designer in San Diego, CA

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    - Good place to get your start in the industry.
          Promotions from QA & CS are common. If you bump into Smedley (current CEO) in the street and say something that amuses him, he may also hire you without any previous game/development/tech experience.

     - Impossible to get fired.
          It doesn't matter if you don't actually do anything, you can keep your job indefinitely, especially if you're a programmer. See: Cons

     - There are several brewery tasting rooms nearby.
          They're within walking distance so you can drown your sorrows before, during, or after work.

    Cons

    - Complete incompetence of management.
          The people steering the ship have no idea what they're doing. Nobody in charge has made a successful game this century. They also refuse to listen to the few experienced individuals who they have managed to hire.

    - Inexperienced staff.
          Since there is such a prevalence of individuals that have been promoted out of QA/CS/the street, the vast majority of people have only ever worked in game development at SOE. In several areas (particularly production) it's a case of the blind leading the blind. Nobody receives the training necessary to KNOW how to do their job properly.

     - Low turnover.
          The ratio of useful employees to useless ones skews heavily toward the latter. In addition to being plagued with inexperienced staff, most development teams have staff that either doesn't actually work, or are just straight up bad at their job. There is no personal responsibility or discipline taken against employees who continually fail to deliver. Bad employees are never let go as Smedley (and therefor all of upper management) sees the company not as a business, but as a family. Having a family is great, but this one is full of siblings you wish you could disown.

     - Too much value placed on programmers.
          In reality, they're the easiest to replace as most positions in this discipline can be recruited from outside the games industry. In every round of layoffs that the company has had, the programming department is always the least affected (often not at all affected), leading to an abundance of programmers who have no reason to fear losing their jobs and continue to underperform.

     - Unclear pipelines & muddy communication.
          The flow of information between disciplines is terrible. This is mostly due to inexperienced production staff, but is also affected by middle management never having been exposed to a functional work environment.

     - Poor games.
          It should go without saying, but all of the above is what contributes to the overall fact that the quality of games being created by SOE is terrible. The budgets are AAA, but the results are worse than most dedicated hobbyists could pull off. The structure that supports SOE allows it to create MMOs, which is the only thing that makes this company unique. This genre is dying and in need of some large changes to revitalize it, unfortunately I don't think the current incarnation of SOE is capable of doing that.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    - Complete any projects that have direction and achievable goals with positive outlook
          - Planetside on PS4
          - DCUO expansion
          - EQ & EQ2 expansions
     - Cancel everything else
          - EQ Next
          - Landmark
          - H1Z1
     - Remove C-level staff
     - Remove Franchise Directors
     - Lay off vast majority of programming staff
          - Ask senior programmers who is worth keeping
     - Ask remaining programmers, artists, designers and producers who actually WANTS to stay
          - The number is so low it may shock you
     - Change the name of the company
     - Recruit competent C-level employees
     - Restaff back up to 25% or less of the original headcount
          - Being far more selective and only hiring quality employees
     - During this restructuring time period, use the talent on hand to enter preproduction
          - A hand full of small (MMO/non-MMO & mobile) titles
          - Evaluate all projects and only enter production on few
          - Ensure reasonable scope, given this simple formula
                - cost = time * headcount

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3.  

    worked on the web design team

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

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time

    Pros

    really great benefits, medical etc. that also included things such as free life drawing classes for artists. Really fun projects and titles to work with. Got to work with other talented artists and devs. The web design management team at the time was supportive and not political at all. I'm not sure that I can say that about other departments.

    Cons

    the design team needed more power to run their department and sometimes marketing would be allowed to run design projects badly. On my way out though it looked like this was less and less the case.

    They were a little slow to embrace changing web technology and we would still get hampered by having to do things like make sure all projects worked in IE6 and this was in 2008.

    They definitely need to trim their losing titles and get some better products out.

    Definitely bureaucratic at times.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    don't let bad management stay too long. All in all though great people, great work, great resources and a talented team. I did see some promising titles just sink after a lot of hard work.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 2 people found this helpful  

    Okay start, but don't stick around

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Game Designer in San Diego, CA
    Current Employee - Game Designer in San Diego, CA

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    It's pretty easy to get an entry level job
    You have a decent chance of getting an apprenticeship for code/design/art/sound
    It's pretty laid back

    Cons

    Management has absolutely no clue who's good and who's bad
    Takes forever to get promoted, if you do
    Nepotism rules all, so playing politics is better than being good at your job
    Be ready to be micromanaged to the teeth

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Find some way to figure out how to judge your employees properly. Nobody likes to see someone with less experience and less talent get promoted while they are stuck stagnant because someone doesn't like them for whatever reason.

    Remove the nepotism and judge based on performance.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6. 3 people found this helpful  

    Good start, but probably nowhere you'd want to stay.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - QA Tester in San Diego, CA
    Current Employee - QA Tester in San Diego, CA

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time

    Pros

    SOE is a good start to the gaming industry through their internship programs. They also seem to keep their contract workers and hire them on full-time. They provide decent project completion bonuses for the big ones, and direct management cares about their workers.

    Cons

    Certain pet projects of upper management wind up having fairly significant changes demanded left and right - even on a friday afternoon the weekend before a beta launch. There seems to be a consensus among some employees that upper management makes very questionable decisions, particularly in regards to priorities. Too often, there would be a demand for a feature that imposed significant code change which would put the project months off schedule, and yet we'd be expected to somehow keep the schedule regardless.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Make the marketing department talk to developers and qa before they announce upcoming features and release dates. Some features they think aren't much require significant code change and provide a long stressful hassle for the development and qa teams that could be avoided, or at least improved, by better communication.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 3 people found this helpful  

    SOE opened up many doors but

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Billing and Technical Customer Support in San Diego, CA
    Current Employee - Billing and Technical Customer Support in San Diego, CA

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Swag, Perks, E3 and Fan Faire

    Cons

    Launch Days, Upper Management and lack of a decent break room.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    For starters it helps to know your employee’s by first name or last instead of referring to them by the project they worked on Smed. Also it seems a lot of people at SOE made promise they never intended to keep from games credits to future job openings.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8.  

    Overall, a great experience.

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

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    The bottom line for upper management is to make good games, retain people over the long haul and provide them with a good way to make a living. They try to make it a fun place to work, and encourage life balance. Yes, making money is important to them, but money is a means to an end. They are loyal to employees as much as practicality will allow. They don't lay people off unless they have to.

    Cons

    The company has been struggling over the last few years. The games are often too confusing and complex for the general public. The last couple of games were very expensive and did not do as well as expected. They haven't found a way to make a good profit under the new free-to-play business model. Company morale is currently low.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Awesome culture, but at a cost

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

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Very laid back. Dress-code, environment, work hours, etc.

    Cons

    Struggling company, light on salaries, bonuses, raises, company events, etc.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 4 people found this helpful  

    Nobody will appreciate your work

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

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment as a contractor (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    free coffee; free bagels and donuts on Fridays; every once in a while a free movie theater visit; you can bring your friendly dog

    Cons

    they hire people only as temps/contractor, unless you are a genius with special skills; they won't ever make you a permanent SOE employee, just so that they won't have to pay for your benefits; you won't make much money, barely enough to be able to make a living; they don't care about quality, more about quantity; everybody there has lost motivation and only wants to leave; regular layoffs make sure that the company is shrinking

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    care more about your people and you will have employees that will want to do great work to produce successful games; don't beat down everyone's motivation and learn how to appreciate someone

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11.  

    A creative and exciting place to work without being micro managed.

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

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment as a contractor (less than an year)

    Pros

    Creativity, opionions, and just being yourself is encouraged. Feel like writing an idea on one of the white walls or the white boards all over the building feel free to. Its a very laid back and stress free environment.

    Cons

    They like to do what I call, "Test drive before they buy" so they like to contract you out first before deciding if they want to bring you on full-time or not.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I am very happy with management and the communication they have with their employee's.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

Sony Online Entertainment Photos

View of the Sony Online Entertainment headquarter office located in San Diego, CA (Photo by Coolcaesar - available under CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0 & GFDL, v1.180)
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