Big Fish Games Reviews

Updated August 26, 2014
Updated August 26, 2014
68 Reviews

3.2
68 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Big Fish Games President & CEO Paul Thelen
Paul Thelen
38 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • great work life balance, fun to be part of the shifting game industry (in 8 reviews)

  • Friendly employees and causal work environment make it a fun place to work (in 7 reviews)


Cons
  • However, I found that there was a consistent hiring of C-level employees (in 3 reviews)

  • Salaries offered are below industry average for the game industry (in 3 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1. 2 people found this helpful  

    Used to be great, now it's just okay.

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

    I have been working at Big Fish Games full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    The people I work with are all pretty great.

    Cons

    You generally need to be already doing the position above you before they even "decide" if there's a "business need" for the position. They pay the standard pay rate for the title that you have, but you are rarely just doing that positions responsibilities. The company also has some transparency issues with a handful of the middle management (although not all).

    A decent amount of the middle management got to where they were because they were good at playing politics instead of being good at the job. This definitely shows.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Try to be more transparent and have more open communication.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2.  

    A casual and fun working environment, where employees are friendly, enjoy camaraderie- yet hard working.

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

    I have been working at Big Fish Games full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Very relaxed environment that allows employees to be individuals. You are given the freedom and flexibility to try new things, and career-wise, if you are young in your career, managers provide opportunities to explore various career paths to help you find your true passion.

    There is the opportunity for "Play Time" and employees are encouraged to play the games we build. Taking a break to play a game is a great way to break free for a moment and let your mind relax.

    The executive team has strong interest in the growth and development of their employees and are truly advocates for their orgs. They are sincere in in their actions and listen honestly to the feedback given by their employees. And, they take action based on that feedback.

    Compensation and Benefits are competitive.

    Cons

    Typical growing pains of a growth company moving from that startup phase to a more mature business. But, that being said, there is a lot of opportunity to collaborate with good people who have a passion for building with an entrepreneurial spirit.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Continue to solicit feedback from your employees.

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

    Not worth your time!!

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

    I have been working at Big Fish Games full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Pay was okay but not worth it.

    Cons

    High turn over so you never learn.
    No work life balance
    Management is horrible!!!

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Fire your entire accounting team, whats left of it, and start over.
    Further, initial training and cross-training is a must.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  4. We want your feedback – Are these company reviews helpful to you?  Yes | No
  5. 2 people found this helpful  

    Really fun company with good values. A great place to learn and grow.

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

    I have been working at Big Fish Games

    Pros

    * Fun comes first--we are focused on making games that are fun and engaging. We are very customer-focused.
    * Flat organization--not a lot of bureaucracy. Employees aren't focused on climbing ladders--we're focused on making fun games. Smart, hard workers are easily noticed and rewarded for their passion, dedication, and good work.
    * Great people--I have never laughed so much at work. We have a great,open culture. I truly enjoy going to work every morning.
    * We get to make games and entertain people EVERY DAY!

    Cons

    Not a massive company with training programs--if you are less of a self-starter and need structured programs, this might not be a good fit for you. This is a company for people with entrepreneurial spirit.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 3 people found this helpful  

    A fun place to work... until somebody decides they don't like you.

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

    I worked at Big Fish Games full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Outside of the occasional crunch time late nights, they have a good policy around work-life balance (though things were getting worse toward the end of my tenure).

    Some interesting projects to work on and problems to solve

    If you can manage to stay on your manager's good side, things will be good for you

    Depending on where you sit, its a great view

    You get to work with some talented and fun people

    Cons

    The aforementioned talented people typically don't last very long.

    Pay far under the industry average in the area.

    For the average employee, the opportunities for promotion are severely limited. Politically adept or highly favored individuals are promoted rather than those deserving based on merit.

    Which brings me to my next point. My single biggest gripe about the company is how amazingly political and bureaucratic it is; especially considering the size of the company. Middle management has very little oversight and depending on the team you're in, favoritism and double standards are rampant. If you get on your manager's bad side; or if you get on the bad side of somebody they favor more than you, things can get very difficult very quickly.
    For these unfortunate individuals, the work they do and their level of competence and productivity don't matter.

    Verbal status reports (and the occasional written ones) are typically ignored if its not directly affecting a high visibility project. Stand-ups are more of a way for managers to relay information to you than for you to talk about your status or any issues that may have come up with your tasks. Getting issues, both personal and project-related documented (typically via email to a manager) is a necessity. Speaking directly with a coworker regarding a problem will get you in trouble if a dispute arises for any reason.

    Middle managers are not trained adequately. They don't understand how to resolve disputes within the team or coordinate effectively with other teams. They are not trained on alternative leadership styles, such as those found among their team leads, and as such are not receptive toward any management style other than their own. And often, managers resort to a blame game should any problems arise, either interpersonal or project-related.

    Finally, I'm not certain what level the decision was being made from, but job/career-altering announcements are often kept secret from employees. The announcement of the death of the project you're working on or being shuffled to another team is often the first indication a low level employee has that something is wrong.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    1) Bring compensation up to a level that competes with other companies in the area. While true you'll never match Amazon and Microsoft's pay/benefits, you can at the very least match the smaller companies and start-ups in the city.

    2) Get middle managers under control. Give low level employees a clear path to bring up concerns about their immediate supervisors. Crack down on the blatant favoritism shown to certain employees. Train managers on how to deal with destructive politicking within their teams. Make it clear that lying about coworkers to managers is absolutely unacceptable behavior.

    3) Stop treating your employees like disposable chaff. Don't string employees along with promises you have no intention of keeping and make sure your lower level managers are following this same example. Let employees know about changes that may be affecting their jobs, much of it is not so big that its worthy of keeping under absolute secrecy and only serves to demoralize all parties involved.

    4) Get managers under control.

    5) Get managers under control. I cannot emphasize this enough. Other than the issue regarding compensation, nearly every problem I encountered stems from this. Bad managers are given free reign and the people under them have no recourse.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 5 people found this helpful  

    Misguided software engineering department. You won't learn anything about good software development here.

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

    I worked at Big Fish Games full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    The people like having fun -- it's easy to make friends here.
    Interesting technical challenges.

    Cons

    Poor management in software engineering. They claim to be "agile" but there is nothing agile about the way they work -- it's really "waterfall" style sprinkled with scrum meetings.
    I worked on several projects. We spent hours upon hours planning and re-planning entire projects 6 months into the future. When the schedules inevitably slip, we cut corners and cancelled test automation work, requiring entire teams to run manual regression tests on nights and weekends while last-minute bug fixes trickled in.
    Promotions don't make sense, they're usually based on who makes more noise rather than actual contributions.
    Retrospective meetings were mostly a facade -- managers didn't welcome negative feedback. Suggestions for improving the development process were often discouraged and frowned upon. People got made fun of by managers for thinking unit tests were a good idea.
    Technical debt is rampant, even in services/tools that should be long-lived.
    Good user experience is not prioritized, resulting in bad products that fail in production.
    Individual contributors clearly not valuable as people to management, treated like interchangeable parts.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    You're constantly driving away your best software engineers.
    Your style of software development only works with one-off games, and it will not work with games/services that require longevity (including F2P games). Your management needs to understand how to mitigate tech debt.
    As of this writing, most of your software engineers currently consist of:
    A) Many higher level leads/managers who have tricked you into thinking they know what they're doing. They work hard and believe writing software is difficult and that you often do need to work long hours to get things done. These people are misguided, they aren't willing to improve, and they are holding your company back by not valuing real A-level engineers. They say they do "agile" development, but they don't really understand the values of agile software development.
    B) Scarce awesome software developers. These people come and go quickly. There are a few, but they are either a) silent about their observations and just want a paycheck (holding back their true power), or b) searching for a job elsewhere because they're not happy, or c) happen to be on a team that is led by a manager who understands their value (a rare occurrence at Big Fish).
    C) Mediocre, or young and naive developers. These people have also been tricked by the A category. They probably think Big Fish is the best place they've ever worked at because it's fun, the people are nice, and they get to work with games. It doesn't matter that they have to work with enormous amounts of tech debt, abandoned tools that no one wants ownership of that are required for normal processes, and have regular crunch times to hit deadlines. They think that's all normal.

    If you care about making things better and retaining good software devs, you need to hire a good consultant to observe your company and show you what's really going on. Someone who has been following the real software development world in the past 10 years.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. 1 person found this helpful  

    Overall a good place to work, but could be improved

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

    I have been working at Big Fish Games full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Good location, nice view.
    Benefits are pretty good: free bus pass, good health/vision/dental coverage, lots of subsidies for other services.
    Most of the people I work with are enjoyable to work with, intelligent, and open to ideas. I enjoy the team I'm on and like my manager.
    Great yearly parties (want more!)
    Generally I have the opportunity to participate in learning events on and off site, but I usually have to take the initiative in finding these and asking my manager.
    Good work/life balance, at least on my team. It varies from dept to dept.
    I think the executive team does make good decisions in general. I think the company will continue to be successful.

    Cons

    Compensation is low for game industry. They claim it is the median rate, but they could attract a lot more talent by being more competitive.
    I feel a large disconnect between myself and the executives. Some are more approachable than others, but most seem to think they are above you and don't try to engage with you.
    A lot of the leadership (at all levels) is promoted from within. This can be a good thing, but I've had some issues with past managers because they simply aren't good leaders.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Offer more competitive pay.
    Invest in more learning opportunities to grow careers and produce better leaders.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    Fun casual work place, where games is a natural part of all activities

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Customer Support Representative  in  Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Customer Support Representative in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Big Fish Games full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    great work life balance, fun to be part of the shifting game industry. great location close to nice views and great restaurants.

    Cons

    Compensations not totally competitive. There needs to be more sharing of information across departments and more clearer organisation structures.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Trust your employees to do the job well.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 2 people found this helpful  

    Strategy & Culture

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

    I worked at Big Fish Games for more than a year

    Pros

    High quality Products
    Location - right on Sound - great views from West side
    Atmosphere - people are friendly and mostly honest
    Market position/profile - in casual games community
    perks - solid base, travel and great industry parties

    Cons

    Closed minded mgt. New ides were well presented, but not recognized or accepted as the best direction which will impact the long term vaibility of company
    Short term thinking. Business closed Cloud Gaming after 12 months operation.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Invest for long term, not qtr/qtr or year by year
    Don't hire for annual projects, talent won't stay

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11. 2 people found this helpful  

    Relatively low stress, good work/life balance but frequent changes in company direction.

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

    I have been working at Big Fish Games full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Awesome manager and co-workers, great work/life balance, super flexible hours. Raises and bonuses readily available if you work for it.

    Cons

    Frequent changes to overall company direction and how employee performance evaluations are conducted. General lack of communication across departments. Some positions in the company do not have clear paths of promotion or are limited. Company is sometimes plagued by indecision or decision making by committees.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The company could be a lot more efficient if clear, well-defined goals were set. Reduce the amount of decision making done by committees.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

Worked for Big Fish Games? Contribute to the Community!

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