Sony Online Entertainment

  www.sonyonline.com
  www.sonyonline.com
There are newer employer reviews for Sony Online Entertainment

4 people found this helpful  

Why SOE still exists is one of life's great mysteries...

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - 3D Artist I in San Diego, CA
Former Employee - 3D Artist I in San Diego, CA

I worked at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (more than 3 years)

Pros

Good Benefits
Great Networking Opportunities

Cons

Incompetent Management
Creatively Stifling Atmosphere
Laughable Development Cycles
Terrible Games

Why this company still operates to this day baffles me. SOE was founded on what could honestly be called a fluke. Everquest debuted in 1999 as one of the first 3D MMOs and it gained popularity for being innovative, and one of a kind. Even though it was deeply flawed, lacked any kind of artistic style, or substance it still garnered a massive following and made everyone at SOE insanely rich. I heard stories of employees receiving bonus checks and then returning from lunch in extravagant sports cars. The problem is all the original management operate on the belief that one day SOE will return to those glory days and it's painfully apparent that mentality dictates how every game has been developed since then.

SOE games are not developed to be fun, creative, or rewarding experiences for the player. They are made to drain as much money from them as possible. The diction and vocabulary that dominates meetings is all about sales figures, user retention, exploring new ways to exploit the user, and destroying the competition. They motivate you with the promise of bloated bonuses, royalty checks (which I have never seen in my 5 years), raises, all with the successful launch of a new game. You simply can't motivate creative people in this way. We didn't go into games to make us rich, we did it because there we have an inherent passion to use this amazing medium to develop games that will inspire, enrich, and entertain the player. If you make games with the sole purpose to become rich, you'll neither become rich, or make great games. I believe it's this simple fundamental flaw in SOE's leadership that continues to ruin any potential to make great games.

Another problem are the ways the games are developed. For whatever reason SOE feels the need to re-invent the wheel each and every time never retaining the invaluable lessons learned from prior failures. Because of this games are never developed correctly. I've never seen a game go through a proper pre-production phase, a prototype stage, and once the game reaches a beta level it's never fully tested. It's rushed out the door and launched in a broken, bug ridden state that continually hurt SOE's reputation.

SOE hemorrhages talent. One positive thing about SOE is they hire a lot of artists out of school, and it's a great opportunity for them to gain experience, ship a title or two, and move on. This is unfortunate because I've seen a lot of very talented, passionate people come and go and if SOE could retain more of that talent the environment and quality of the games would improve. The people who remain at SOE have been there a very long time and have grown complacent with receiving their paycheck, releasing sub-par games, and are completely unmotivated to do much else. There are quite a few cliques and it can feel a bit like high school at times which is detrimental to the functionality of a team. The big problem here is that a lot of the management has been home grown, people who worked themselves up from QA, fixing and finding bugs, to managerial positions with responsibilities so beyond their skill set and experience level it baffles the mind. SOE also promotes members of QA to the design team. You have to admire the motivation of someone who worked at Burger King, got a job doing Quality Assurance at SOE, then became a designer. It's a romantic idea, but the fact is these people have absolutely no experience designing games, and when all their knowledge of design comes from poorly designed games, well, you can see there is an obvious problem here.

When I quit SOE Smedley had just implemented a mandatory arrangement where every person on the team had to dedicate work time to taking phone calls as a customer service representative. Yes, I am not joking. SOE had laid off a large part of the work force in 2012, closed a number of studios, and as a result artists, programmers, designers, and everyone else had to take customer service training to answer phone calls and troubleshoot customer problems. I don't know if that is still in effect, but just the fact they decided to do this meant it was time to go.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

Gut the management. Find some new blood with a relevant, up to date understanding of the industry and restructure. You're no longer qualified to make decisions at that level and every time you do you're making things monumentally worse. Stop hiring temps, outsourcing, people from QA and properly invest in top tier talent. Finally, listen. Trust the people you bring in from the outside. They have great ideas, and are being paid to share the invaluable experience they've had working for other more successful developers.

Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
Disapproves of CEO

84 Other Employee Reviews for Sony Online Entertainment (View Most Recent)

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  1. 6 people found this helpful  

    Politics, Politics, Politics

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

    I worked at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Decent pay and good benefits.

    Cons

    Terrible management and lots of backstabbing between employees. Inexperienced studio management making very poor development decisions and blaming failure on lower employees. Terrible understanding of scheduling and process. Hostile attitudes toward employees wanting to transfer from one SOE office to another.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Honestly, I think the place is so broken they need to be shut down and Sony needs to start over.

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO
  2. 5 people found this helpful  

    Spend a year or two there - then go somewhere else

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - QA Tester in San Diego, CA
    Former Employee - QA Tester in San Diego, CA

    I worked at Sony Online Entertainment as a contractor (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    (most of the time) fun atmosphere
    Passionate people at the lower levels

    Cons

    Broken people at the middle levels

    Incompetence galore at the top - too many times they have displayed their lack of trust in the people they have hired.

    Too many people promoted by "sucking up" socially.
    Too many people promoted by "sucking up" physically.

    Don't worry; they won't fire you. They will just create a position for you to sit in till they have their next yearly layoff (maybe this is a pro?)

    Nonsensically abusive; if you work here, be prepared for the mentality of "the beatings will continue until morale improves" and you'll be reminded that everyone on Earth would easily step in at your pay grade.

    Overtime is also optional; so is working at Sony.

    Upper and middle have hired/promoted too many friends; about every 2-3 years all the talent runs away and the good ol boys stay

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stay off twitter, stay away from dev and stop listening to marketing all the time.

    Manage your people and let your people do the work.
    Don't step in with your "brilliant idea that must be implemented!".
    Don't revamp game systems a month before launch...

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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