Obsidian Entertainment Reviews

Updated April 17, 2015
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4.0
11 Reviews
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Feargus Urquhart
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Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (1)

    Great studio, great people, crappy projects (back then)

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

    I have been working at Obsidian Entertainment full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    The head guys are very open and honest regarding the company's health. The developers are friendly. They pay about average. The studio is across from plenty of dining/shopping/etc. but its very expensive to live nearby.

    Cons

    They were really struggling when I was there, working on bad projects from no-name or foreign publishers. They are basically desperate to work for anyone to keep the lights on. Hopefully, Project Eternity (their own IP) will put them on solid footing again.

    Advice to Management

    Move. Irvine is lame and too expensive, especially that premium spot across The Spectrum.

  2. Great stepping stone into the gaming industry

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

    I worked at Obsidian Entertainment as a contractor (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    -This is a great place to work if you are new to the industry, as they have a tendency to hire a lot of interns.

    -You get to work with quite a lot of fun and interesting people, you will have people on your team that you will later add to your personal friends circle.

    -HR manager and front desk are two of the sweetest people in the building, you will LOVE them!

    -Recruiting manager is super friendly, and will give you honest feedback on where you stand as a team member (from hiring manager POV....valuable since the industry is small and you will most likely move around a lot)

    -Most of the time you will be working in an actual office, rather than a cubicle farm. (Unless they change buildings again...)

    -Current office location is within walking distance of the Irvine Spectrum....so lots of opportunities for lunch hour shopping or eating out, running errands, gym exercising, etc.

    -If you have a lot in common, and socialize regularly with your lead/project managers/owners...you will most likely stay on for the next project and not have to worry about being on the layoff lists that happen frequently.

    -If you survive your contract and get hired on full time, you'll have decent medical/dental/vision benefits.

    Cons

    -If you aren't a senior, be prepared to be treated and paid like a junior.

    -Large layoffs are inevitable when projects end or get cancelled, always be prepared. (Happens at many companies, this one is not immune)

    -Lots of crunch time (unless you LOVE working 12 hour days towards milestone end and/or project end....then I guess you can consider this a pro)

    -Project managers are hit and miss at this company, I've worked with REALLY awesome PMs, and I've worked with ones who made me want to slit my wrists. Additionally, this company is not always the most organized, even if you get to work with one of the good PMs.

    -Very "cliquey" feeling at this company. If you don't rub shoulders with the right people, you're probably going to be on the list of "let-go's" when layoffs happen.....it doesn't matter how good you are at your job.

    -I've seen people "pushed" into roles that they weren't excited about (but accepted anyway because it meant job security.)

    Advice to Management

    Shrink the gap between pay in Senior and Junior level salaries...currently the in between positions are being paid as juniors. Try to give reviews in a more timely manner. Before making a large layoff, try to consider team member skills...rather than choosing "who fits" and "who doesn't fit in" at the company. I've seen many extremely valuable team members be let go suddenly....then pick up higher paying jobs at larger companies, never to return.

  3. Helpful (2)

    Great potential, but pushed around by big publishers

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

    I have been working at Obsidian Entertainment full-time (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Great company culture.
    Casual work environment.
    Employees are passionate all the way up to the top levels.
    Management works hard.
    Employees know their fields.

    Cons

    In my experience, Obsidian seems to be routinely pushed around by the publishers they work with. This leads to rushed launches and, in some cases, making implementing poor designs because of the publisher's whims.

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  5. Obsidian is filled with people that are passionate about the games they create.

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

    I have been working at Obsidian Entertainment full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Transparency. Obsidian's owners are very clear and open about that is going on with the studio. Anything from new projects to financial stability.
    The artists are eager to learn and willing share new techniques and experiences.
    The absence of "climbing the corporate ladder" is a welcome feeling having come from both of the other "big" corporate studios.

    Cons

    Minor issues like parking lot locations, not having the newest office furniture or computer hardware come up because of being a cost conscious independent development studio.

  6. All heart, no teeth

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

    I worked at Obsidian Entertainment full-time (More than 3 years)

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

    Pros

    High Creative energy.
    Interesting projects and pitches
    Studio attempts to make development team happy

    Cons

    No strong gameplay emphasis
    Poor production scheduling.
    Overly Top heavy management.
    Layoffs are frequent as well as mismanagement of talent.

  7. I look forward to coming to work each day.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Hiring Manager in Irvine, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Hiring Manager in Irvine, CA

    I have been working at Obsidian Entertainment full-time (More than 5 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    I have worked for many companies over the years and working at Obsidian Entertainment has become the career I always never knew I wanted. I look forward to going to work everyday, even on the stressful ones. I get to work with true talent.

    The Owners have always been good to me.

    Cons

    Being a small developer has its moments where you are waiting for the next project and in all the time I have been at Obsidian that is my one and only con.

  8. Helpful (1)

    Great people, poor future thinking

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Obsidian Entertainment

    Pros

    The people are amazing, they work on some great projects and a great location at the Irvine Spectrum.

    Cons

    Layoffs occur after almost every project, no bonuses and small, insignificant celebrations for project completion. Story focused studio, not enough emphasis on gameplay.

    Advice to Management

    Work on keeping your best employees and giving them a reason to stay, don't just rely on company loyalty to keep people.

  9. Great RPG studio that I fear has grown to big for its britches

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

    I worked at Obsidian Entertainment full-time

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    Most talented and versatile designers in the industry
    Chris Avellone is just awesome to work with

    Cons

    Pigeon-holed as an RPG developer
    Very reliant on publishers
    No original IP

    Advice to Management

    As far as designing traditional RPG's, nobody knows better than Obsidian's upper management. However, management could really benefit from being more open to fresh ideas and new business models and opportunities. Obsidian's reliance on publisher funding dampens the potential of all their talented employees, and makes it feels like they are one cancelled project away from utter collapse.

  10. Obsidian - where RPGs and storytelling live

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

    I worked at Obsidian Entertainment full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    Great creative design and storytelling; solid art and animation; good work environment; good location; decent benefits

    Cons

    Homegrown technology trailed top competitors (internal tech was not where it should have been - given the reliance certain projects had on its predictable delivery); pay was decent, but larger companies could offer larger base salaries and almost always had stronger bonus plans. My work-life balance was not very good. Part of that was my fault - I took on a lot of work and had a hard time stepping away from company mail or our intranet at night and on the weekends.

    Advice to Management

    It would be good if Obsidian could take on a deep-pocketed strategic partner. When paired with the right project, they can do amazing work for the money. Their D&D, Star Wars, and Fallout work was top notch.

  11. Worth every moment (but not a moment more)

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Gameplay Programmer in Irvine, CA
    Former Employee - Gameplay Programmer in Irvine, CA

    I worked at Obsidian Entertainment

    Recommends
    Recommends

    Pros

    * One of very few RPG companies in America with such a rich a history in the industry
    * Some tremendously talented people across tech/design/art
    * Excellent workplace facilities
    * An impressive amount of transparency from management regarding any issue
    * Worthwhile, high-profile projects
    * A tangible sense of comraderie among most of the company

    Cons

    * Typical-of-the-industry project mismanagement issues create significant, avoidable overtime
    * Excessive redefinition of project goals and revisitation of pre-production tasks during production
    * Design occasionally given too much latitude without equivalent accountability
    * Salaries are more competitive elsewhere
    * Many of the best qualified shy away from leadership positions while ambitious but under qualified are granted or thrust into leadership positions

    Advice to Management

    Iteration is to be expected, but drastic or frequent changes do more harm than good by compromising the team's confidence in leadership's competence and decision-making ability. No one wants to create anything less than the best, but take the time to quantify the shortcomings of a pre-production decision before attempting to shoehorn revisions into a production schedule that is already bursting at the seams. As the old adage goes, you can't stuff 10 pounds of $h!+ into a 5 pound bag.

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