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Helpful (9)

Overworked in the trenches, mismanagement at the top

  • Work/Life Balance
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
  • Comp & Benefits
  • Senior Management
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)

Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
Disapproves of CEO
Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
Disapproves of CEO

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 Management

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.

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  1. Helpful (9)

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

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

    I worked at ArenaNet

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    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 Management

    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.


  2. Helpful (6)

    Great company, but does not invest in employees.

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

    I worked at ArenaNet as a contractor (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    -Incredibly awesome culture
    -Great place to cut your teeth as a video game employee
    -Tons of free food, employee events, and drinks
    -Everyone knows they have a job to do and that they must do it
    -Employees are (generally) easy to talk to
    -Amazing way to learn the ins-and-outs of a big game company
    -Fantastic introduction to the fast-paced life of the game industry
    -Unbelievably talented artists and designers
    -Unforgettably awesome experience being able to work with big names in the industry

    Cons

    -Huge, unfortunate gap between the vision of upper management and the needs of the teams they oversee
    -HR does not handle employee disagreements well; usually end up failing to hide anonymity which causes backlash
    -Directors often do not show for content reviews, causing final review day to be filled with confusion and often this leads to last-minute revisions
    -Some directors can get away with excessive rudeness/discrimination
    -Upper management prospective internal hires "We don't have the budget to hire you", then spends tens of thousands of dollars on wine/PS4s/new flatscreens/renovations
    -Several employees become aggressive and condescending when pushback is necessary
    -Production does not have a firm handle on the company's workflow
    -Agile/Rally implementation was poor
    -QA was outsourced in my final months there under a new QA director
    -Low compensation for contractors ($11-$12/hr) when contracts were still available
    -$55/month on-site parking fee OR park illegally at nearby Park & Ride
    -Recent surge of employee departures due to new company mentality

    Advice to Management

    Invest in your employees. Treat them like people, make sure they're taken care of. Ensure your teams are being seen and that their content is being reviewed properly. More times than I care to count I watched a team struggle before release because the directors did not come to the majority of their reviews and suddenly wanted changes days before release. You must also try and respect deadlines. Code and Content Complete does not mean "add new code and content 2 weeks later and completely disrupt the process." Outsourcing QA was not a good decision because it took away that developer-tester medium and eliminated any chance of growth for any contract employee (and a great deal of ArenaNet's designers are former contract QA). HR needs to keep a tighter leash on those with power in the company, because they get away with a great deal of attitude and negative bravado.

    Stop paying your employees under the industry standard while simultaneously spending huge amounts of money on perks/Christmas gifts/wine and chocolate fondue/etc. I had to sell the PS4 the company gave me for Christmas because my hourly wage wasn't paying for my modest living expenses. Stop treating lower-tier employees like children. Don't overlook valid HR conflicts.

    Invest in your employees. Treat them like people. Don't treat them like gears in a machine. They are your most important asset, not your product. That fact feels like it's been forgotten.


There are newer employer reviews for ArenaNet
There are newer employer reviews for ArenaNet

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