ArenaNet

www.arena.net
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ArenaNet Reviews

Updated February 17, 2015
Updated February 17, 2015
59 Reviews
3.9
59 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
ArenaNet Co-Founder & President Mike O'Brien
Mike O'Brien
42 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Flexible work hours and understanding about work/life balance (in 15 reviews)

  • Work environment that encourages creativity (in 9 reviews)


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

  • Most of the upper management seems disconnected from their employees and the customers (in 10 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1.  

    A Vibrant and Positive Family

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    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)

    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 ManagementAdvice

    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.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2. 1 person found this helpful  

    Excellent place to work.

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

    I worked at ArenaNet

    Pros

    ArenaNet is a great place to work on a great game. The work environment is fun and casual, and your coworkers are not only skilled, but personable. One of the best jobs I have ever had.

    Cons

    Not much room for promotion, and somewhat low compensation. That said, the pros far outweigh the cons.

    Recommends
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great environment to learn and grow

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

    I worked at ArenaNet full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    The people are what make ArenaNet great. It is difficult to find a studio that is willing to work on something and polish it until they get it right. The studio never panics. ArenaNet usually views mistakes as lessons and will make iterative adjustments rather than radical shifts, this keeps everything on generally level ground. As has been mentioned many times the work-life balance can be very good at ArenaNet and while there is the occasional pressure for longer hours there is a consistent push to try and find root cause for why it was necessary and prevent it from happening in the future.

    Cons

    The weather. While completely outside of the control of ArenaNet it is still notable and should be considered carefully if you're the type of person who needs to see the sun on a regular basis. There are a number of people who are new to their leadership positions and it takes time to learn the management side. The management skills are inconsistent across the studio which can lead to differences in how teams and departments are led and how communication and priorities reach throughout the studio.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The direction and vision that is eventually worked out after discussion and iteration is very good. However, the communication of that direction and vision doesn't always make it clearly to the people doing the work. More proactivity in making sure the message is reaching everyone in the studio and clarity in how each person can contribute to the whole would make much of the uncertainty fade into the background. The methods of reaching a decision are quite often based in objective data and solid reasoning but often only the 'what' makes it to the team, not always the 'why'.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    I've never worked with a smarter group of people

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    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)

    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 ManagementAdvice

    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.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6.  

    Innovative, quality software

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

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

    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 ManagementAdvice

    Grow into a multiple IP company.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    An inspiring place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Intern - 3D Character Artist in Seattle, WA
    Former Intern - 3D Character Artist in Seattle, WA

    I worked at ArenaNet as an intern (more than a year)

    Pros

    A great environment to work in. Beautiful common spaces and skilled and talented team members. Very good work hours, for the artists at least. Leads respect the ideas of their team, even the least experienced ones. Artists given a fairly good amount of autonomy. Work environment that encourages creativity.

    Cons

    Somewhat lower salaries than other similar-sized companies. Working space can be a little crowded. Not a lot of room for advancement in some departments. Too much dependence on outsourcing and temporary employees rather than hiring people full-time.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8. 2 people found this helpful  

    Great place to work as a programmer.

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

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

    Pros

    - Excellent work-life balance. ArenaNet believes in quality of life for its employees and for most people, the office is mostly empty by 6-7 everyday. There are occasions when folks need to put in the hours (launch, big release days or other problems with the Live build), but these are not the norm.
    - Great people to work with. Employees here are, in general, amazingly talented and very friendly.
    - Realistic expectations of success and achievement for the company and for individuals.
    - Totally transparent business goals and practices. Business numbers are shown to employees on regular basis. This lets employees feel more ownership on the success of the company.
    - Profit sharing was handled in a fair and impressive way. All aspects of its calculation were disclosed to everybody and was tremendously fair and well-considered. The CEO (Mike Obrien) did not take any part of the profit sharing.
    - As a programmer, there is no micro-management by non-programmers. Programmers are respected and trusted to do their job. Programming managers are other programmers. The CEO is a programmer himself (much of his code is still in our codebase!) so there seems to be an inherent value placed on programmers.
    - Extremely good upward mobility. Many of the developers at ArenaNet started out as entry-level QA and quickly worked themselves up in the company in just a few years. Many people in leadership positions started their careers at ArenaNet.
    - Fun events with the studio and good for the family.

    Cons

    - Less than competitive salaries for programmers for the Seattle area. However, the work-life balance more than makes up for this. I suspect that ArenaNet's strategy of hiring younger, more talented folks in the industry (many straight out of school), and training and promoting within, results in a suppression of salary for people that would otherwise make more money if they left.
    - Another negative aspect of upward mobility and employee longevity is that many of the leadership at ArenaNet aren't experienced in other games, technologies, and processes.
    - The size of the company sometimes seems to be unwieldy for the management. ArenaNet clearly started as a small company and has now grown to over 300 employees. However, many of the processes in place (content creation pipelines and non-work-related things) assume a much smaller company.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 2 people found this helpful  

    Friendly, collaborative workspace.

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

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

    Pros

    - Excellent corporate culture.
    - Friendly, welcoming on-boarding process.
    - Strong sense of community, and contribution to a greater whole.
    - Flexible work hours.
    - Great work/life balance.

    Cons

    - Salaries are a bit on the low end.
    - Interns & contractors aren't eligible for any benefits.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Fun, fast-paced and variegated

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - German QA Tester in Bellevue, WA
    Former Employee - German QA Tester in Bellevue, WA

    I worked at ArenaNet full-time (less than a year)

    Pros

    Well managed teams, everyone is focused

    Cons

    Personality conflicts are deadly in a small team since there is no slack.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep it up!

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11. 2 people found this helpful  

    Great for its size

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

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

    Pros

    I’ve been here for over 10 years now because I’ve experienced a lot of negatives at other game companies that don’t happen here, or happen to a lesser extent. The negative stuff I’ve read from others here are things that happen in any and every company with more than 40 employees. Here’s what I think are the pros at ArenaNet:

    • No demands for overtime.
    • Very creative, talented, and passionate coworkers.
    • Management is very approachable and actually kind caring individuals. (the ones’ I’ve gotten to know)
    • Room for growth and focus from management on individualized career improvement.
    • Flexible work hours and understanding about work/life balance.
    • Commitment to profit sharing (last bonus was 25 weeks of pay) The calculations are open and clear, but the timing is not consistent yet.
    • Freedom to pursue good ideas. (I got to form a team and create content based on an idea I had.)
    • Good communication between departments.
    • The usual game company amenities such as free snacks, beverages, gym.

    Cons

    Most of the cons I’ve experienced much much worse elsewhere, and I think they exist everywhere I’ve worked and I have friends in virtually every game company in America and they all echo this fact. So understand that these are really minor annoyances, not game breakers.

    • Experimentation with release cadence/style/type/team sizes and configurations, etc. Since Guild Wars 2 is subscription-free and relies on MTX, there’s been a lot experimenting to find out what model of content works best for this. So we’ve shifted gears so many times I’ve lost count. This may be a non-issue within the next couple months or year though.
    • Over reliance on contractors. We spend a lot of time getting them up to speed, getting to know and like them, and then their contract is up.
    • You have to pay $55 a month for parking.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Find a way to hire our contractors full time.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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