ArenaNet Reviews

Updated August 26, 2014
Updated August 26, 2014
53 Reviews
4.0
53 Reviews
Rating Trends

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

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

Employee Reviews

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  1. 3 people found this helpful  

    Talented group of developers, political environment

    • 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

    Talented employees and quality product.

    Cons

    Politically driven and chaotic environment, salaries on the low end.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2. 4 people found this helpful  

    Good ambition, mediocre leadership

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

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

    Pros

    Great for learning the ropes in the games industry. Tremendous people to work with. Great access to the ins-and-outs of the development pipeline.

    Cons

    Poor pay. Poor leadership. Many, many mangers, all with differing visions/opinions. Losing company culture to big business.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Have a plan to place personnel in correct positions and stick with your plan. Pay competitively.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3. 9 people found this helpful  

    Waves of good and bad

    • 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

    • Sharing information.
    • Fun people who like what they do.
    • Good product.
    • Reasonable/flexible work hours.
    • Positive environment.
    • Open door policy with management.
    • Free snacks/drinks.
    • Parties/Events provided.
    • Physical security.
    • Gym access available.
    • Game room on premises.
    • Small library with book requests.
    • Additional resources on network drives.
    • Order takeout.
    • Good strides to legitimize e-sports.

    Cons

    • Most of the other veterans have left the company and many are still leaving.
    • Limited growth.
    • Shady management.
    • Heavy office politics and cliquey groups.
    • Inconsistent policies because of a long standing transitional phase.
    • Poor inter-departmental communications/strategies.
    • Coordination is hectic and often patchwork.
    • Poor or inconsistent documentation if any.
    • Multiple platforms for documentation that can be difficult to find.
    • Often unclear standards in work.
    • You may be in meetings for days at a time.
    • Limited leadership. With the loss of the former two founders leadership has yet to be filled.
    • Poor compensation packages when compared to competitors.
    • Limited pay when compared to industry standard.
    • Profit shares were not worth much.
    • Poor commute compensation.
    • No name in the credits for helping to create the game.
    • Suggestions are overlooked until it is critical.
    • Pets are not welcome.
    • ArenaNet only makes Guild Wars. Don't even bother with different game genres if you don't like fantasy MMOs. I suspect that is one of the reasons why one of the founders started a new company.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    While AnetU and basecamp (training) is helpful, it is comparable to placing band-aids on a missing finger.

    If you want us to design amazing material it will take a significant amount of time to execute without a clear breakdown of the project tasks. We either need additional time or people to complete tasks within designated times.

    Get an integrated bug/portfolio project management software suite: Basecamp, Zoho projects, 5pm, or Huddle, or Clarizen.

    Aside from the Art, Sound, and Customer Service departments most are departments very busy with high stress.
    QA department has high turnovers and contractors which has led to documentation getting lost in the cracks.
    HR is in desperate need for additional recruiting.
    Marketing needs a way larger budget. Most of my friends or family never heard of a ArenaNet nor Guild Wars before I worked there.
    Sound department is tiny. Practically a closet.
    Stop outsourcing. It is a pain to fix.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    Fosters development of skills and supports innovative ideas and thinking

    • 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

    Arenanet University - Learn on the job from your co-workers!
    Recognizes and acknowledges talent to peers
    Provides opportunities to grow and to get into design/art from QA.

    Cons

    QA - Limited in their ability to hire people on full-time
    QA - Limited in their ability to reward excellence with wage increases
    No path into other departments other than those listed in the pros.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 2 people found this helpful  

    Fun group of people, but extremely poor compensation.

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

    I worked at ArenaNet full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    -Developers are generally a great group of people, fun to hang around and they actually care about making awesome games.

    -Generally very little (regular) overtime.

    -Benefits are great for full time employees.

    -Great entry place for QA Testers. With the high turnover of junior developer positions QA is frequently promoted to fill those spots if they have a basic understanding of the development tools.

    Cons

    -Terrible compensation. Keeps employees as Temporary Full Time with extremely low starting salaries ($28k-$33k). No benefits or overtime pay for many employees for multiple years.

    -Yearly raises felt only in line with cost of living increases. Does not combine well with poor starting salaries.

    -Full time employee compensation is poor with the caveat that a poorly defined "profit sharing" bonus compensates for this. No details on what to expect from this profit sharing are made known to employees, so there is no tangible correlation between units sold and compensation. It feels like magic hand waving to keep employees slightly happier despite poor compensation.

    -Many actions and benefits programs felt like they only existed to keep employees at the office as long as possible or within the company as long as possible.

    -Spending priorities felt more like they were intended to boost the companies image to press then provide for their employees.

    -A number of times it felt like management was more interested in sniping employees from other companies when it felt like there were team members that had been working at the company for years that deserved a promotion into the position.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    -Figure out how to properly compensate employees.

    -Provide actual details on the profit sharing system.

    -Look internally for talent first before running to other companies to fill positions.

    -Prioritize spending so employees benefit more, worry less about your image. Stop trying to one up Blizzard.

  7.  

    A great place to start

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

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time for more than 8 years

    Pros

    ArenaNet is a good place to start and get your feet wet, with the company constantly growing and changing theres always plenty to do and plenty to get involved in.

    Cons

    With so much always going on, communication gets scrambled or sometimes left behind.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8. 1 person found this helpful  

    Best video game company ever!

    • 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 for more than 5 years

    Pros

    ArenaNet consists of a large group of very professional, very passionate people. It is great to get to work for a company that is so family oriented, and I just love how satisfying it is to work on a AAA video game.

    Cons

    There really is not much to say in the way of cons about ArenaNet. I think my only complaint would be that the compensation is slightly lower than you might find at the same positions as other game companies.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 4 people found this helpful  

    An out of control project and a studio growing faster than it can handle

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

    I worked at ArenaNet

    Pros

    ArenaNet management have consistently maintained a good work environment for employees. The atmosphere is positive and the corporate culture, to the extent that they are able to maintain one, discourages overwork and encourages employees to build friendships and work well together.

    The company makes an effort to promote individuals from within, which helps compensate for the small number of opportunities for advancement.

    Upper management have historically maintained an 'open door' attitude and are open to discussion with employees, regardless of position or experience level.

    Virtually every employee is driven and enthusiastic, and as a result the studio is able to overcome challenges that would cripple other studios of its size.

    Health plan and 401k are relatively competitive for the industry.

    Cons

    The studio's rapid growth seems to have caught upper management unprepared, and they did not respond to the resulting growing pains by slowing the rate of growth. As a result, minor issues that appeared while the company was still small enough to overcome them were allowed to grow into significant issues with severe morale and productivity impact.

    The loss of two of the three company founders left a tremendous void in the company's leadership that was never repaired, and the alternate perspectives they offered are sorely missed when the time comes for high level strategic decision-making.

    When it comes to strategic planning, milestones and deadlines, the studio consistently makes promises it cannot keep, pushing back internal deadlines every few months and scheduling work that realistically cannot be completed. This creates a negative feedback loop where the studio spends a few months in a near-panic over an approaching deadline, and then gleefully adds new work after the deadline is pushed back out of eyesight. This destructive cycle creates a 'do or die' mindset among employees, convincing them that if this project is not an unqualified success, the studio will die.

    There is virtually no on-boarding process for new hires. The environment is effectively 'sink or swim' and a new hire overwhelmed by the environment will likely spend 6-12 months working at low productivity until they finally acclimate to the company, if they have not departed by then. Consistent deadline pressure and scope issues result in senior employees having little time or energy to spend mentoring new hires. Many new hires sit quietly doing nothing because they do not want to distract other employees from their work.

    Management has an unstated 'no layoffs' policy when it comes to full-time employees. Combined with the rapid growth of the studio's full time staff, this resulted in many teams lacking the resources to hit the deadlines they were given by upper management. Instead of adjusting deadlines, cutting features or hiring new full-time staff, management responds by hiring contractors. The resulting cost is significant, albeit subtle - contractors have higher turnover, and inferior compensation results in them having less incentive to work hard. I personally observed multiple cases where contractors were serving key roles on a team yet no effort was made to keep them on staff.

    While benefits are competitive, new hire salaries have at times bordered on the poverty level, forcing new hires to commute multiple hours to the office in order to be able to pay rent. In the past this was compensated for by a generous profit-sharing plan, but the studio's rapid expansion completely devoured any profits that would have otherwise been paid out.

    Upper management and senior employees are encouraged to micromanage their reports in the same manner as the company's remaining founder. As a result, lower level employees frequently receive mixed messages, and project direction can change rapidly.

    Micromanagement also has a damaging effect on the effectiveness of low level managers. Because upper management and senior employees effectively have veto power on any decision, low level managers are relegated to a position of counselors and problem-solvers, picking up the slack for overworked reports without being given any ability to effect positive change on the project. Managers that cannot handle the resulting pressure and frustration either leave the company or are quietly moved to non-management positions.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Encourage upper management to delegate responsibilities fully to their reports and work with those reports to achieve good results, instead of accepting the temptation to micromanage.

    Reduce your reliance on contractors to create a more stable work environment and control spend.

    Dedicate resources to the onboarding of new hires to get more productivity out of your new employees and ensure they are on board with the company culture and vision.

    If you do not want to lay off full time employees (And this is a position I can personally agree with), then you must cut features, and do so aggressively. Repeatedly setting and missing deadlines has a devastating impact on morale. Set achievable goals and deadlines, and then knock them out of the park.

    Invest more resources into the human side of management to control the rate of employee departures. Keep your remaining employees fully engaged and happy about the state of the company. Ensure that grievances are voiced early and addressed instead of being allowed to simmer.

    Face challenges to the future of the company head-on and address them early, instead of waiting until they near crisis level to react.

  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Happiest I've been.

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

    I have been working at ArenaNet

    Pros

    I've never been so happy at a company, and I've worked everywhere. I am excited to come to work every day.

    Everyone is very accountable, reliable, and awesome at their discipline.

    EXTREMELY flexible with time off, I've been allowed every request.

    Always put up in a nice place and taken care of when I travel.

    Always permitted to take classes and seminars that build on my interests/discipline.

    Love everyone I work with, I consider them all close friends.

    Family friendly environment: family, friends, pets, are welcome.

    Very fun environment, more play than work sometimes.

    No micro-managing.

    Flexible work hours, you are trusted to finish your tasks on your own time.

    Great benefits, I'm covered for everything!

    Great mix of people, mostly twenties and thirties, but everyone is great!

    Most everyone is direct.

    Some SUPER talent on the team, that is very inspiring.

    Cons

    Pay is on the low end of the industry.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    More initial direction the first week/month.

    "Trim the fat". A few people that have no place working here.

    Recommends
  11. 2 people found this helpful  

    Think twice before joining

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

    I have been working at ArenaNet

    Pros

    Great product
    Great art team
    Reasonable work hours
    Good launch pad for beginners to break into the industry
    Great place for hard working people with low expectations

    Cons

    Thoroughly uncompetitive compensation package
    Poor communication of expectations by leadership
    Must be thick skinned to work here - lack of leadership professionalism and respect
    Poor appreciation of contributions
    Very limited advancement opportunities
    We "heard", we "listened", we ignored attitude throughout
    Amount of management lies exceeds industry average
    Niche company subculture

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I'd recommend NCSoft to restructure the upper management in ArenaNet for better scalability into the future as the company grows, since current policies will neither retain nor attract new talent. Also consider substantial profit sharing across all studios in the US.

    Doesn't Recommend

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