ArenaNet

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ArenaNet Reviews

Updated December 17, 2014
Updated December 17, 2014
57 Reviews
3.9
57 Reviews
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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

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  1.  

    Simply a great company

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

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    The video game industry is generally a mixed bag. ArenaNet manages to retain the good while avoiding most of the bad. There is a genuine concern about the welfare of the employees and work/life balance. The senior management works hard to be good managers. That means doing their jobs well so that crunch times, wasted effort, and band-aid development is kept to a minimum.

    The people here are fantastic. In the short time I've been here, I've formed lots of great friendships. We are motivated, smart, creative people who want to build an awesome game. It's a pleasure to work here.

    Cons

    We seriously need healthier snack food before we all become diabetic. Also, there is really no where around here that one can walk to for lunch. However, we do have a lunch ordering service so you don't have to drive somewhere unless you want to.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Not to sound like a sycophant, but I've worked at numerous companies over many years and I've never seen a company that is as well run as this one. We need to work on some issues, but management is mostly aware of them and trying to address them.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Best company ever since over 12 years in CG industry.

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

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    ArenaNet treats employee greatly, keeping balance work and life for us nicely.
    ArenaNet University(inside of the company) provide various education actively for all employee who want to lean more or new.

    Cons

    All the events and environment for employee are well organized, people are so nice to help as needs.
    Also, schedule wise, I've been scheduled fair amount of time to finish my tasks, which is my favorite part of it.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3. 2 people found this helpful  

    Passionate team, welcoming work environment, great company

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

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

    Pros

    * The company has a very friendly, welcoming, collaborative, passionate team-based work environment. It's a joy to work here, and you feel like you're working with genuinely good people.
    * Company is always striving for excellence. You get the feeling that everyone is fully dedicated to making the best product possible and fully committed to excellence in their disciplines. This company is always trying to move forward and to improve.
    * Because of the commitment to excellence, there's a feeling that feedback to improve the product or anything else is welcome from all levels, whether you're a new person or have been there for years. The vast majority of people at the upper levels of management are approachable and the open-door policy isn't something that's just on paper.
    * Great work-life balance. The company is very accommodating for people who have lives outside of the office or who need to take care of family issues or other personal issues during the work day.
    * People don't feel compelled to work long hours due to social pressure.
    * The company culture is generally welcoming to women, despite the company being probably 75% men. Issues that arise are taken seriously by management and by team members, and people act in a professional manner. Overall, there seems to be a distinct lack of the oppressive, "boys' club" culture that holds a lot of other game studios back and plagues the game industry as a whole.
    * The office itself is a comfortable place to work at and a wonderful physical space.

    Cons

    * There's the feeling that the company is divided into "haves" and "have-nots," despite some attempts to make all staff feel equal, like everyone getting a holiday gift, which have included PS4s, iPads, etc. Not everyone gets paid time-off or healthcare paid for by the company, and these benefits contribute to the work-life balance issue. Work-life balance is great for full-time workers, but contractors do not get paid time-off, so if they need to take time off to deal with family emergencies or health problems, they don't get paid.
    * The company loses a lot of talented and skilled individuals due to the system of temporary contract workers. After 12-month contracts expire, temporary contract staff need to take a 3-month break before coming back to work at the company. Most will not come back because they would rather find a job that will give them full-time employment. Most of the people affected by this system are QA people, but there are contractors in almost every department.
    * A few key people in higher positions are, in contrast to the rest of the company, difficult to work with, don't take feedback well, don't compromise much, and are sometimes exempted from policies that everyone else in the company have to follow.
    * Studio core culture and values are not communicated well to the company, and rapid growth over the past few years has contributed to this.
    * Staff is homogeneous. Most of the people who work are ArenaNet are young white men. This company has a long way to go in terms of diversity. However, with women represented in almost every department (from programming to QA), it feels like they're at least trying.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    * Seriously re-examine the restrictive system of temporary contract workers. This is one of the biggest detriments to the company, and the game industry as a whole, and the loss to the company in terms of engaged, talented, and skilled workers who want to contribute to the success of the company is huge. This system might make sense in dollars and cents, but there's something to be said for the intangible benefits. like tribal knowledge and having a strong sense of culture. Having this system doesn't make everyone feel like they're equally valued and it makes for a less close-knit company.
    * Make sure that all staff are required to adhere to the same policies by communicating those policies and making sure no one slips through the cracks due to position or tenure.
    * Step up efforts to increase staff diversity.

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

    Very satisfying

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

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

    Pros

    I've been working at ArenaNet as a contract worker for less than a year

    -Great culture

    -Some of the friendliest people I've ever had the pleasure to work with

    -Free snacks

    -Great work/life balance

    -I REALLY appreciate the fact that ArenaNet seem to close the gap between contract and FTE quite a bit compared to other places I've worked.

    Cons

    There are two main issues I have:

    -Considering the workflow at ArenaNet, I'm not entirely sure why they still have contract QA positions. ArenaNet, with its releases every two weeks, always have work to be doing. Why send employees packing?

    -A number of reviews mentioned that the wage is lower than the rest of the industry. With that in mind, having to pay to park on-site was a bit of a bummer.

    -The new hire training is a little dodgy at the moment. While it sounds like it's improved A LOT from the way it was previously, it is still a quite a bit of sink-or-swim type of process. On top of that, the way documentation was done previously seemed to not be standardized and this led to a lot of information being passed around as tribal knowledge.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    -If the budget permits, I'd like to see less contract positions.

    -Better documentation standardization

    -More comprehensive training

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    Only getting better

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

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

    Pros

    Transparency throughout the entire company.
    Strong core values.
    Forward thinking flexible workplace.
    Interns are given many of the same benefits as full time employees.

    Cons

    Some growing pains from growing so large and restructuring so quickly.
    Disorganized between upper management and workers

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

    It's not all fun and games...well actually, it is all fun and games.

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

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Best place I've worked for. Smart people, inspiring leaders and a great product. It challenges me while inspiring me to do better.

    Cons

    Too many free snacks, cereal, candy, donuts, pizza and drinks...I've gained 5 lbs since I started and although we have a free healthclub on site I'm usually too busy in the gameroom to make it there. Also, everyone is just too nice...especially those 2 at the front desk...they must be up to something.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    If your goal was to create a great place to work with a bunch of smart people...you done good.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    A+

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

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

    Pros

    Work life balance is great. I've only ever worked OT by my own decision, and it was only a handful of times. It isn't the "crunch hell" that you would expect, even when we are pumping out 2 week releases.

    Contract employees are treated very well relative to other employers. Any special perks or presents of fun events are always very open to contract people.

    Cons

    There's quite a bit of tribal knowledge here, so being new is hard. Once you are past being "new" though, it is very rewarding.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    Best video game company I've ever worked for.

    • 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 8 years)

    Pros

    Very talented/creative/brilliant people. You will learn a lot working here
    Extremely well organized without too much production overhead
    Great work/life balance
    Awesome facilities
    Great profit sharing program
    Better than average benefits

    Cons

    Pay is a bit lower than other places, but this is somewhat offset with the profit sharing program.
    I also think that having to pay for parking is a little irksome, but it can be avoided.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10.  

    A fantastic change of pace.

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

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time

    Pros

    Fun work environment.
    Great, talented people.
    Flexible management.
    Generous rewards for employees.
    Free snacks.
    Open atmosphere.
    Sincere interest in involving, including, and educating all employees.
    Compared to more entry-level game-industry jobs like with Nintendo and Microsoft, this is an absolute dream company to work for.

    Cons

    Some communication problems between departments.
    Hires for contract positions in a workflow that doesn't make sense for them.
    Last minute decisions from upper management trump all others.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Contract positions are for inconsistent workflows where demands for staffing lessen after a big project completes. With a steady release cadence, there's no reason to contract employees. It then only becomes an exceptional way to lose talent.

    Don't make large sweeping decisions on short notice without getting input from the teams that are affected by the changes.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11.  

    Excellent Game Studio!

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

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

    Pros

    I've been at the company for just over a year now and have worked at lots of different studios. Here are some of the Pros that come to mind:

    - Always willing to change and adapt: Since I've been here, Arena Net is constantly looking and asking its employees for ways we can improve. And it works - things are infinitely better now than when I started and it looks like 2014 is going to be better still.

    - Lots of Opportunity: Don't like what you're working on at the moment? Just let your lead know, there are lots of different types of work to be done here and lots of teams to do it on.

    - Guild Wars 2: GW2 is the fastest growing MMO in history. One of things I was looking for before I joined Arena Net was a place that would be STABLE above all else. GW2 is a huge anchor.

    - Talent: There's LOTS of talented people here. If you're looking for a place to learn, grow, and be challenged this is a great place to do just that.

    - Culture: ArenaNet is very generous with celebrating our victories, rewarding the entire team, and making sure we all feel like we're part of the family. Whether it's the entire company going out to a movie or an afternoon mixer after a succesful release, ArenaNet likes to treat their employees well. Also - the studio is gorgeous! Easily the most beautiful studio I've ever seen, let alone work in.

    Cons

    There are cons working just about anywhere and different people will have different problems no matter where they go. So my list of "cons" are more FYI's than Cons

    - If you're looking for a small studio, this is not that. ArenaNet employees lots of people. Granted, we're broken down into smaller, empowered teams so even if you don't like the large group you can find a small team bubble to call home.

    - We are a LIVE game environment: Again, just another FYI and not really a con since having a money making game is a HUGE Pro, you should know that we have a live game going with releases coming out every two weeks. That means the pressure is always on to make sure we all hit our deadlines. The team agrees to the work we're asked to do and actually plans and scopes it themselves, but its something to be aware of.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep that spirit of willingness to improve any system, team, or process! It's served us well so far!

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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