ArenaNet

  www.arena.net
Work in HR? Unlock Free Profile

ArenaNet Reviews

Updated Jul 24, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

3.7 49 reviews

86% Approve of the CEO

ArenaNet Co-Founder & President Mike O'Brien

Mike O'Brien

(35 ratings)

69% of employees recommend this company to a friend

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Flexible work hours and understanding about work/life balance (in 11 reviews)

  • Very good work hours, for the artists at least (in 8 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
49 Employee Reviews
Relevance Date Rating
in
    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

     

    Friendly, collaborative workspace.

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Bellevue, WA

    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.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Fun, fast-paced and variegated

    German QA Tester (Former Employee) Bellevue, WA

    ProsWell managed teams, everyone is focused

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

    Advice to Senior ManagementKeep it up!

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    5 people found this helpful  

    Unforgettable experience, incredible coworkers, and overall disappointment in management.

    QA - Embed (Former Employee) Bellevue, WA

    Pros-Incredibly talented and dedicated developers
    -Strong and sustainable product with the Guild Wars franchise
    -Mostly independent of publisher interference due to fiscal success with products
    -Very relaxed and comfortable work environment, nice office space, no cubicles, overall pleasing aesthetic
    -Nice location in the Greater Seattle area
    -Aggressive release schedule, resulting in stable and consistent work
    -Company always has a long term plan and release schedule, which is communicated to the employees
    -Management shares stats and monetary successes or failures of the product to the employees
    -Community teams are amazing at communicating with the players and overall fan base
    -Management is not afraid to green light fun, unique, and interesting content that the player base usually enjoys immensely
    -Overall strong and consistent sense of direction with the current product, which is clearly communicated to the employees and player base
    -Clear vision and understanding of MMO business models, particularly with monetization strategies

    Cons-Conflicting management teams that don’t always communicate effectively horizontally or vertically
    -Overall attempts to practice agile development, but consistently missing the mark
    -Frequent mismanagement of resources, especially with programmers
    -Compensation for all disciplines is not competitive, especially considering the region
    -Lack of communication between development teams, results in unexpected crunch time, unnecessary work, and down time
    -Production does not consistently plan for downtime in their estimates and schedules
    -Code/Content approval can be severely slowed down due to a somewhat chaotic and inconsistent review process
    -Too many "single points of failure" in staffing for specific disciplines. (i.e. a single network engineer for a very large project)
    -New teams/projects sometimes fail to take lessons from past post mortems or projects and repeat the same mistakes (i.e. repeating similar build process/work flows that were proved to be inefficient in past development)
    -Feature team sprint planning retrospectives appear to be ignored or very slow in being acknowledged
    -Management frequently allows for feature creep to become a problem
    -Extensive use of “contracted” employees when there is more than enough workload to justify more FTE positions, particularly in QA
    -Recent removal of the QA department to a third party agency poses a severe threat to studio culture and the pre-existing dynamic of hiring/mentoring from within (Good portion of design and production started as QA)

    Advice to Senior ManagementThere are two key points that need to be addressed. With so many moving parts within the studio, communication and better standards of development need to be established. This is particularly the case as teams are usually working on code/content that effect one another, but they are rarely aware until the last possible minute which usually results in overtime, and unnecessarily risky development.

    Lastly, the recent move to offload the entire QA department to a third party agency is undeniably an unhealthy move in regards to the studio culture and the pre-existing dynamic of mentoring/hiring young developers and producers from within. This is often referred to as “cutting off the hand that feeds” in this scenario. There will be a trickledown effect that will likely become visible six months to a year after making this move. There will most likely be an extremely high churn/turnover rate due to a lack of competitive wages and exposure to the studio environment. This will increase development costs due to new QA constantly being trained which will slow down the product workflow. The company will also likely be forced to hire more developers from external sources over time, which will also drive up costs, as they will likely require better wages, and will naturally have a training or product/tool familiarization downtime period.

    On paper this might look good, but in time the company will start incurring heavier recruitment costs, and QA training/retention costs. This will particularly be the case if the company wishes to keep the aggressive development pace that has been the standard.

    -Best of luck

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

  1. We want your feedback – Are these company reviews helpful to you?  Yes | No
    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    Great Place to Grow

    Game Designer (Former Employee) Bellevue, WA

    ProsArenaNet is a fantastic place for young, talented, and passionate people to work in a fun, fast-paced environment.

    ConsManagement is disorganized and overworked. The pay low compared to industry average.

    Advice to Senior ManagementDon't let your talent leave for better pay elsewhere. Instead of promoting the best engineers or designers to leadership roles, just compensate them better and let them be productive for you. I've seen too many talented individuals leave because of money (myself included) to other places.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Great people and projects. Disappointing opportunities.

    QA Tester (Current Employee) Bellevue, WA

    ProsDroves of talented, passionate and hard working people.
    Lots of projects to be involved with.
    Stocked kitchen.
    Very friendly and welcoming teams.

    ConsIf you are a very experienced tester or just very familiar with Guild Wars 2 you may feel unchallenged by the work.
    Tools and training are very context specific. Not much of what you learn carries over to other studios' projects.
    If you have technical skill or experience you aren't likely to be utilized for it.
    Despite the welcoming atmosphere there is still a strong and very noticeable resistance to a contractor's input.
    Pay is extremely low for this industry.

    Advice to Senior ManagementGuild Wars 2 is a relatively complex game but the testers brought in for certain positions are obviously unqualified for their tasks. Serious efforts have been made to document procedure and train new hires but by the time a new tester has a grasp of everything they need to be effective they quit or their contract ends.

    The qualifications for the testing positions need to be much higher because a lot of valuable time wasted on training. The pay needs to be better since the work load and skill set is much higher than other studios paying more. The 12 month contract need to go since the projects are part of a continuous development for a living game. There needs to be motivation for a senior tester to return but there can't be if they know their skills and experience are not valued by the studio.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Great for its size

    Artist (Current Employee) Bellevue, WA

    ProsI’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.

    ConsMost 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 Senior ManagementFind a way to hire our contractors full time.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    The happiest I've been at a company

    Junior Artist (Current Employee) Bellevue, WA

    Pros-Great People
    -Fun environment
    -Great Project
    -Full benefits
    -No Crunch
    -Beautiful Building and area
    -Stable

    Cons-Weird politics over headcount (so some teams are understaffed)
    -Not great documentation or task tracking but these issues are improving
    -Paid parking
    -unhealthy snacks

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

    5 people found this helpful  

    Wonderful company, experience varies wildly depending on where you land.

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee) Bellevue, WA

    ProsPay can be competitive depending on role
    Well stocked kitchen
    Fun game room
    Good PTO/holiday policy
    Lot of smart people work there

    ConsArenaNet does not train people. That's an actual quote from upper management. You're left to flounder as a new employee and you will receive no feedback at all from your supervisor if you are not meeting his/her expectations.
    "Management" as it were, is lacking (absent). Since my first day at ArenaNet I never felt guided, instructed, developed or supported. It was a growing experience to be sure but as far as I can tell, management simply can't be bothered to support their team.
    As others have stated and as continues to be the case, this is very much a "sink or swim" company and they don't seem to care which it is. They don't care about your success because they don't work to further it, and they don't care if you fail because no one will ever step in to help you. You're utterly alone, have no misconceptions about this.

    Advice to Senior ManagementYou (management) exist for one sole purpose, and that is to enable your team. That's it- that's you're entire role in a nutshell. Anytime you're not working to enable and unblock your team, you're underperforming.
    Employee development is key to a successful company, and employees that are not developed will walk right out the front door with all their knowledge.
    Management need to actually *be* managers instead of simply shirking those duties they find unsuited to their sensibilities.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    Great work environment, but poor strategic alignment and focus.

    Game Designer (Former Employee) Bellevue, WA

    ProsPeople are creative and desire collaboration, not a lot of needless red tape or superfluous process. Interest to do something different and great place to work with excellent craftsmen.

    ConsVery little hunger and need for excellence in some departments. Highly fragmented and craft oriented (as opposed to valuing good product creation). Disconnected with customers and players overall.

    Advice to Senior ManagementSenior management needs a leadership team to divide the enormous task of getting the right values in place and aligning effort around the right goals. While cordial and intelligent, the company has a hard time aligning on the same objectives.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    Great people struggling together to make an amazing product

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Bellevue, WA

    Pros- Amazing coworkers
    - Respectful environment, contractors treated like people
    - Great project
    - Decent mobility between departments
    - Gym available
    - Free snacks

    Cons- Mediocre compensation
    - Poor documentation and an over reliance on tribal knowledge
    - Heavy use of contractors and thus continuous losses of precious tribal knowledge
    - Constant state of priority shift that's disruptive to productivity
    - Too many nearly-complete projects get abandoned and never returned to
    - Hiring needs are not well planned, and many hires are made out of emergency necessity rather than for long term benefit
    - Talent drain, there's a steady trickle of great people being lured away to other companies that offer competitive compensation

    Advice to Senior ManagementPlan your goals early enough to allow for quality hires / promotions, and then work to keep talent within the company. Allow teams to complete the goals you set for them before shifting them to something else.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

Worked for ArenaNet? Contribute to the Community!

Your response will be removed from the review – this cannot be undone.