ArenaNet

  www.arena.net
  www.arena.net
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8 people found this helpful  

Overworked in the trenches, mismanagement at the top

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

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

Pros

* Crazy-talented developers who are passionate and clever about what they do.
* You'll never not be amazed by the artists and sound team.
* "Flat" team structure. Got a question? Roll your chair a few feet and ask away.
* Good collaborative environment. Good ideas and solutions can come from anyone and anywhere.
* Good insurance package.
* Profit sharing can give vested staffers a nice bonus.
* Annual Christmas gift in the form of a nice piece of tech or cash. Last year, all staffers got a PS4.

Cons

* Morale is dropping, veterans are departing.
* Company feels rudderless. Upper management are virtually walling themselves off from the rest of the company.
* Decision to move to Living World (with content updates every two weeks) was not well thought through and poorly implemented. Long hours, meddling from upper management, poor communication from the top who expected epic Hollywood production without investing in new technology or manpower.
* Inexperienced producers. Some are struggling but doing great work, others will ride their teams into the ground.
* Long, brutal crunches that can last months. Burnout is becoming commonplace.
* Petty senior personnel who will throw people under a bus if they don't get their way.
* Poor pay, hard to attract and keep talent. Especially programmers.
* Growing reliance on temp talent. It's a long, hard slog to get converted to full time. Unless you get hired on as full time, expect to be on a temp contract.
* Willingness by upper management to let designer vacancies stay vacant at a time when talent is sorely needed.
* Hard to take time off without feeling like you are abandoning the team.
* Everything seems one step away from crisis mode.
* Buggy internal tools.
* Problematic staffers who should have been fired long ago are still employed because of seniority/who they know.
* No incentive to reward clever thinking or hard work.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

Communicate your vision with the rest of the company with clarity and honesty. Cut the dead weight. Stop chasing every damn shiny thing that catches your eye. Ask your teams what they can actually do in a given time frame and don't push them to do more with less. And if you want something flashy and epic, fund it. You have talented people bursting at the seams with ideas. We've reached the limits of what our current tools can do. Give us better cinematic tech. We're looking at everything our sister studio Carbine did with Wildstar and we're wondering "Why can't we present our game like that?" We are chomping at the bit to do great things, but at every turn we are being hobbled by you not filling open seats or funding departments on starvation budgets. Stop. Please.

Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
Disapproves of CEO

56 Other Employee Reviews for ArenaNet (View Most Recent)

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  1. 8 people found this helpful  

    Amazingly talented, passionate people; failing company culture and incompetent management.

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

    I worked at ArenaNet

    Pros

    - The majority of people are very talented, dedicated, and passionate about their work as developers and fans of the game.
    - Work hours are flexible and there are daily catered lunch options you can order.
    - There are lots of fluff benefits (free snacks, drinks, open game room).

    Cons

    I'll start off by saying that the company has gone downhill alarmingly fast in the past year, and in addition to the points below, I'd agree with everything else other glassdoor reviews have highlighted about the current cons of working here.
    - Compensation: ArenaNet has always paid below the industry standard for most, if not all, of its positions, but this didn't matter as much in the past for many people because there was an amazing company culture to make up for it where you felt that your contributions mattered and that there were opportunities to advance. This is no longer the case, and salaries have not only lagged behind, but opportunities to advance have also been greatly reduced.
    - Upper Management is poor: Some directors and design leads pay more attention to graphs and data then what people both in and outside of the studio are saying, and this often ends up with projects either being poorly prioritized, scoped beyond what a team can handle, or just driven in the wrong direction. The majority of the people driving the studio are severely out of touch with/don't care about the people in the trenches and the players.
    - HR doesn't care: After GW2 launch, the company started bleeding talent, but there was no visible effort to fix this problem. Instead of hiring (very qualified TFTs) internally for openings, there was an increased focus on bringing in new contractors instead and outsourcing the QA department. This had a substantial effect on company morale as everyone started to question their job security. Multiple people raised concerns about this situation with HR, but no concerns were addressed.
    - HR won't make hard decisions: There are a number of people in the studio who don't perform, but because of their personal connections (as friends, spouses, etc), they aren't fired.
    - Production doesn't schedule teams well: Crunch time lasts far longer than it should, projects end up far out of scope, and deadlines are frequently treated as movable guidelines. Despite the desire to make quality content, a lot of teams are forced to quickly move from project to project, which has resulted in releases far below the quality they deserve.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get your nose out of your numbers and charts and graphs, and actually look at and listen to the rest of the studio. There are people who are ruining the company and the game because of poor decisions that are focused on what they think will increase profits or decrease costs while ignoring what got ArenaNet to where it is in the first place: its people. If you want any hope of saving your company, then start making ArenaNet a place that feels safe to work again and where there are opportunities to grow. Recognize the limits of the design teams and come up with realistic project goals and deadlines. Become a player again.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2. 4 people found this helpful  

    Work with some of the best people in the industry; work for a leadership team that rewards politics not talent.

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

    I worked at ArenaNet full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Without a doubt, these are some of the best people in the industry. The employee culture is amazing. Everyone is passionate, driven, and yet humble enough to help others reach their goals. Morale is fairly high with a focus on maintaining employee morale through events and catering.

    Cons

    Leadership has faltered in recent years with the introduction of key high level execs. The director level meetings held the moniker of the "Star Chamber". Compensation for most non-programming roles is severely lacking. Several leaders didn't get effective leadership training, with a prime example being how reviews were handled; a struggling employee rarely received coaching until year end, where presented a low-rated review without explanation, long after there was an opportunity to address concerns - and usually done that way to avoid conflict.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Double down on what got the company where it is: all of the people, not just the programmers.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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