Crystal Dynamics

www.crystald.com
Employer Engaged

Crystal Dynamics Reviews

Updated January 18, 2015
Updated January 18, 2015
15 Reviews
3.1
15 Reviews
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Darrell Gallagher
5 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Fantastic, family-friendly environment. Great Games!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Designer in Redwood City, CA
    Current Employee - Designer in Redwood City, CA

    I have been working at Crystal Dynamics full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Highly collaborative environment.
    Amazing tools, level editor is best I've ever used.
    I get tons of creative flexibility and decision making power in the moment to moment gameplay. Management could be better, but I've never felt like I couldn't go talk to them about any issues, they are very approachable, especially considering how busy they are.
    Feels like a family, everyone in the company (from dev to HR to facilities to IT, etc...) is committed to making the best games we can.
    Yearly performance reviews can sometimes be a little late, but they will happen and merit increases have always been pro-rated to where you should have gotten them.
    Mandatory crunch doesn't happen often and isn't for long, you've got your tasks for the week and if you don't finish them in the normal 40 hours, then it is on you to work more hours to complete your tasks.
    Employee is part of the scheduling discussion each week to figure out how long each task should take, so if weekly crunch happens, the employee is as much to blame.
    Little to no office politics, either that or I'm just really good at staying out of crap like that.
    Great benefits structure, especially if you have children.
    I've often been told by upper-management that family comes first, not just lip-service either, they've been great at working with me during family crisis to ease my mind of work matters so I can focus on my family.
    Big support of outside sports activities, company sponsors multiple athletic teams for leagues at the complex's gym.

    Cons

    Lots of the original Tomb Raider team has indeed left, including some very key to the success of that game.
    Crystal likes to higher very junior employees and give them 3 months of contract to see if they'll work out or not. I'm fine with this practice as 3 months should be enough time for everyone to know if it'll work out or not, I just would like it if the employee would be made more aware of that fact. They'll hire 4 jr. designers this way even though there are only 2 permanent roles available, makes it feel very gladiatorial.
    Bonus scheme isn't very good.
    Heavily controlled brand messaging. Employees aren't allowed to breath a word about announced projects without getting approval from the Brand team first. I understand why this is, still kind of annoying though.
    Not sure if my experience with Promotions is shared by others, but this is what I'm dealing with now. At last year's performance review, I received a promotion. Yay! Wasn't sure what my new title would be because they were about to start an initiative to change all job titles to a new scheme (so instead of Associate Designer, we would have Designer I). That's fine, except a year later and with performance reviews in full swing, I still don't know what my official title is.
    Just moved into a new office a month ago. It has 1 men's bathroom that only has 1 urinal and 2 toilets. There are over 100 men in this office. It is a serious problem and one that we voiced loudly from the moment we heard the company was looking to move (our old office only had 2 urinals and 2 toilets, we thought that was bad). They failed to listen to us in that regard and effectively downgraded our bathroom situation.
    On the new office topic, we are on the top floor and have high ceilings, large windows surround the upper level. This lets in a ton of natural light, some people think its great (non-artists) some people hate it (artists). The big problem is at certain times of day, the sun shines directly in the windows and makes it so some people can't see their screens. This affects a large number of people actually

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2. 5 people found this helpful  

    Bad management decisions stop us from making a good game

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

    I have been working at Crystal Dynamics full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Amazing amount of talented individuals on the project.
    Well supported proprietary tools.
    Welcoming office space.
    Team is very passionate about the project.
    IT and facilities work hard to make sure everything works properly.
    Free snacks and drinks. On site cafeteria is not bad.

    Cons

    Pay is way too low for the area and is not competitive.
    Constantly losing talent to other studios.
    Project is understaffed and over-scoped.
    Company is top heavy - too many producers, three game directors, three art directors, all on one project. Site says they are stilling hiring MORE producers. We need more designers and artists, not more micromanagement.
    Insane amount of overtime to compensate for lack of direction on the project, with weeks of 70-80 hour crunch even when we were two years away from shipping.
    Upper management constantly gives contradicting information.
    Very Jr. heavy because senior talent keeps leaving.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Fairly compensate your employees for the work they do, reduce overtime by scoping and planning projects correctly, and hire some new senior management to bring new life into this project, because the current group has no idea what they are doing.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3. 4 people found this helpful  

    Interesting project, terrible organization

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

    I have been working at Crystal Dynamics

    Pros

    Without a doubt, the people at Crystal are their greatest asset. Many people are very helpful and friendly. The office space is nice, with big windows, eating areas, video games and a good kitchen. I have not been ignored by my managers, and there is a general feeling that we all want to create great work.

    Cons

    The pay is low for the cost of living in the Bay Area. There seems to be a lack of technical leadership, and a confusing art leadership org. Assets are a mess, tools are unreliable, and finding the owner of a feature is difficult. In general, studio efficiency is very low. There is waste at all levels from disorganization and poor communication practices. Many key employes have left recently and been replaced by junior level hires, or contractors. There is a general air of frustration and apathy.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Your people are your best asset. Ask them how they would make Crystal better. Start by making a no overtime policy and scheduling your products around that, or pay for overtime and budget around that.

    Doesn't Recommend
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    Ok but leadership needs to be more connected to the employees

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

    I worked at Crystal Dynamics as a contractor (less than a year)

    Pros

    Good culture, creative people, people are passionate about their work

    Cons

    Leadership lacks direction and can be passive

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get connected to your employees

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  6. 4 people found this helpful  

    Poor management is killing this company

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Developer in Redwood City, CA
    Former Employee - Developer in Redwood City, CA

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

    Pros

    If you need a break from spending time with your family and friends, this is the place for you.

    If you enjoy micromanagement and zero trust in your knowledge and abilities, there's no better place to be.

    If you're an aspiring executive producer who is prone to ruining your team's hard work by making misogynistic remarks to the press, you'll feel right at home-- and you just might get promoted!

    If you value the opinions of game directors who hold onto their jobs by having the team work overtime to make up for their lack of actual design skills, submit your resume ASAP. Oh, and don't worry-- they won't bother you much since they'll be "working from home" most of the time. More free dinner for you!

    Cons

    The head of this studio is quite possibly the biggest narcissist I've ever worked for. He never misses an opportunity to talk about himself and how he made Crystal what it is. What he fails to mention is how his bullying style of management has trickled down through the organization and made it a toxic environment. That is his true legacy.
    Strangely, some of the least qualified employees have managed to fail their way up into positions where they tow the company line: Place an unreasonable amount of work on too few people and expect to compete with the likes of other game studios that employ double the number of developers. Reducing project scope is never an option. Don't even think about proposing reasonable compromises to outrageous scheduling.

    Contract workers are the new wave of the future. Why hire senior people with lots of experience when you can hire three junior level contractors and not have to pay benefits or other perks?
    Besides, senior developers ask pesky questions. We don't have time for that.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I honestly don't know what you'll do if you have to find another job.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. 2 people found this helpful  

    Be prepared to work hard for this 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 Crystal Dynamics full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    Great co-workers that are passionate
    Nice office, open layout, above cafe on 1st floor
    I have family and the benefits are good. I got 1 week paid PTO when my son was born. That goes for both women and men. 1 week paid. They comp more jury duty.
    Perks - Bagel Friday's, jamba juice and cupcakes on occasion. Snacks are stocked - Pop tarts, cereal,
    chips. Coffee robot and free soda.
    Tools and tech are good
    IT and facilities does a good job
    When we are not crunching, I can leave by 6 to pick up the kids from daycare
    Free shuttle to and from train
    Beer Friday - after 4pm

    Cons

    Long hours are required with 50 hours standard except for crunch time which is closer to 70 hours a week. No over time for those of us that are salary. Crunch time happens every 3-4 months for 2 months due to understaffing. The company tends to hire seniors or people right out of college which leaves gaps. Most of us are young with little office experience. They bring in lunch and dinner during crunch time to encourage employees to feel good about working longer hours. Food is decent but not worth the overtime. Management says they like feedback and transparency but they often ignore feedback and don't share when or why people leave. Did they get fired or quit? who knows. High burnout rate. Most people have been at the company for less than 1 year. I get the feeling that if my coworkers didn't have such high amounts of college debt that they would move on. Pay is okay, but bonuses are less than 10%, and you can forget about raises higher than 3%. They promote with title, not money. The last bonus I got was based on the amount of overtime and profit of the last game. Recruitment seems to hire to fill positions, not because the fit is right. Managers give feedback that starts as a positive but often slips in a bunch of negative to fear you into working harder and longer. The bathrooms suck. Stupid to mention but when you share a bathroom with so many guys, it becomes a big issue.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8. 1 person found this helpful  

    Once great

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

    I worked at Crystal Dynamics (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Crystal once had great people and a collaborative environment that welcomed input from employees at all levels. It was a great place to do creative work and advance according to your initiative and hard work. Pay was good enough.

    Cons

    Lots of crunch time. No strategy beyond Tomb Raider. With as many good people as have left recently, I am not positive about the direction it's headed.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Happy employees have autonomy and a sense of purpose (e.g. from personal investment in the product).

    Disapproves of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Always hiring because people are always quitting due to poor management

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

    I have been working at Crystal Dynamics full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Once had a great turnaround story
    Complex has access to a gym
    Tomb Raider reboot showed signs of greatness

    Cons

    Executive level management is disconnected from what it takes to make a game. The solution is a great deal of crunch. Even beyond what is assumed for the industry.
    A lot of key talent that made the last game great has quit. 25+ of them. Recently, management hires junior staff who don't know better.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Most of my coworkers and I only stay because it is hard to find a local replacement for console games. The company goals preached at company meetings and reviews don't match your executive actions. You claim to have an open door but as studio head, you're rarely here. A lot of talented members quit, namely because the workloads are uneven and there is a great deal of back channeling. As an example, look at how often the directors are out of office and design has no real leadership so a lot of waste occurs every day.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10.  

    No lack of talent here

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Crystal Dynamics

    Pros

    Some of the most talented and creative people you'll ever work with.
    Very collaborative environment.
    Amazing proprietary tools and tech-- some of the best in the industry.

    Cons

    Poor management at times leads to relentless unpaid crunch.
    Bonuses are just okay.
    Some executive-level people have managed to cling to their jobs despite some major screw-ups.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Recognize that people are the company's greatest asset.
    Recognize that those peoples' time is THEIR most precious asset.
    Keep working on 'letting go' and allowing your talented employees to be creative and flourish without micromanagement. (It's getting better.)

  11.  

    Awesome company.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Contractor - Graphic Artist in Redwood City, CA
    Former Contractor - Graphic Artist in Redwood City, CA

    I worked at Crystal Dynamics as a contractor (less than a year)

    Pros

    The folks there are easy to work with.

    Cons

    There isn't really anything I can indicate.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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