Sony Online Entertainment
2.5 of 5 78 reviews
www.sonyonline.com San Diego, CA 150 to 499 Employees

Sony Online Entertainment Reviews

Updated Jun 19, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

2.5 78 reviews

                             

30% Approve of the CEO

Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley

John Smedley

(60 ratings)

33% of employees recommend this company to a friend
78 Employee Reviews
in

Review Highlights

Pros:
  • "It's game development, so that's always a little more fun and laid back than other companies"
    in 7 reviews
  • "At least it's a fairly stable job that allows you to enjoy living in San Diego"
    in 7 reviews
Cons:
  • "Upper management is too far removed from the actual development process to understand its huge flaws"
    in 11 reviews
  • "Senior management had no idea who you work (workflow) or some of the abuse you put up with dealing with customers"
    in 5 reviews
  • Show more review highlights

Reviews

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    Good environment to work in

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsCertainly a sense of family that comes from the top down

    ConsSometimes that family environment led to employees outstaying their welcome

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    1 person found this helpful  

    Sony treats its employees really well, but something seems to hold back the company from making big hits.

    Senior Environment Artist (Former Employee)
    San Diego, CA

    ProsSalary and benefits are all really good at Sony. The work environments are relaxed and they generally treat their artists with a lot of respect. They send the whole company to movies every once in a while and have random fun employee events. They supply good food when there are mandatory crunch hours.

    ConsThere are mandatory late/weekend hours sometimes, but that's the case with pretty much any game company. They typically reward well for this though, with nice bonuses & supplying dinner or random treats. There's a bit of a bureaucracy and hierarchy there where sometimes respecting hierarchy and order is more important than pointing out problems and solving them - especially if they are big and outside your specific department. So there's a lot of "yes man" mentality where you're just better off if you have problems - mostly keeping them to yourself unless it's something you can actually make a difference with yourself, directly.

    Advice to Senior ManagementThere's something about the structure there that makes lower level employees not want to give honest opinions about the current state of the game. So people will sometimes chatter to themselves about big problems that need to be solved and addressed, but for some reason they don't want to be the ones to point them out. It's a big studio where the fat is trimmed from time to time - and no one wants to be the fat. So no one wants to point out the problems because they don't want to offend anyone that might have a say in whether or not they are "trimmed." I don't mean to be too harsh though - that's just probably a big part of why the recent games havent been as big of hits as they could have been. Aside from that, management treats the employees very well and a lot of people have worked a long time there as a result.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    A great place to be for those looking for work/life balance

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)
    San Diego, CA

    Pros- Executives who are passionate about gaming
    - Humanistic work environment
    - Great location

    Cons- Red tape, as with any large corporation
    - Slow to innovate

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    SOE Review

    Customer Service Supervisor (Former Employee)

    ProsSOE is hands-down one of the most diverse and geek-friendly workplaces in existence. If you have ever felt the odd man out at your job because you have no common interests with your coworkers, at SOE it's guaranteed you'll find people with whom you can connect on a personal as well as professional level.

    ConsAs it is a subsidiary of a multinational corporation, SOE is unfortunately sometimes forced to pay the price of other divisions' problems. A good year in the online gaming industry can be offset by a bad year in the film or home electronics division.

    Advice to Senior ManagementGive more credence to feedback from your rank-and-file employees about upcoming products, even if it means reining in the 'vision' of your premier developers. Most of your people came to the company because they know and love games. This gives them a keener insight into what will and will not succeed with the gaming community at large.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    Risky business

    Software Engineer II (Former Employee)

    ProsFlexible time off if you plan ahead
    Even during layoffs you are treated well
    I never met anyone on the teams who wouldn't stop to help

    ConsUnstable job
    Career guidance is nonexistent
    Extended crunch times

    Advice to Senior ManagementManagers need to actively train and guide their people
    Producers need to better control project scope

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    Lacks Direction

    Game Designer (Current Employee)
    San Diego, CA

    ProsWork with great designers in a casual environment. Also, you can't beat working on games. Company wide play tests etc.

    ConsLacks an overarching strategy. Teams are pulled in a million different directions with little explanation. Also, can at times be a political mine field mixed with a little nepotism.

    Advice to Senior ManagementPick a strategy and go.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    Programmer at Sony Online Entertainment in Austin, TX

    Programmer (Former Employee)
    Austin, TX

    ProsVery well managed development team, family friendly, and a good work-life balance.

    ConsI was paid a very low salary even after turning down initial offer and negotiating for a few thousand more. Also my annual raise and bonus were tiny even though I received a great review.

    Advice to Senior ManagementGreat management that knows how to run a game company.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    1 person found this helpful  

    Tremendous opportunity mixed in with some occasional old ideas.

    Brand Manager (Former Employee)
    San Diego, CA

    ProsDecentralized organizational structure and a startup mentality culture means that employees with initiative and tenacity can easily create opportunities to benefit themselves as well as the company. Has the potential to change the face of the video game industry in the next five years.

    ConsCan be needlessly bureaucratic. Sink or swim environment isn't for everyone. Legacy systems and lack of mature processes mean that economies of scale are hard to come by and business innovations are often stillborn. Must mature or stagnate.

    Advice to Senior ManagementClean up the free riders and the dead wood. Hire a executives from successful service organizations to manage the nuts and bolts of the business. Partner them with the visionary CEO and creative leaders on the game development teams to create strategy, refine market opportunities and business deliverables and develop robust business models. Communicate goals and expectations clearly throughout the organization so everyone understands how their job contributes to the bottom line (either as a cost or a profit).

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    3 people found this helpful  

    Good start, but probably nowhere you'd want to stay.

    QA Tester (Current Employee)
    San Diego, CA

    ProsSOE is a good start to the gaming industry through their internship programs. They also seem to keep their contract workers and hire them on full-time. They provide decent project completion bonuses for the big ones, and direct management cares about their workers.

    ConsCertain pet projects of upper management wind up having fairly significant changes demanded left and right - even on a friday afternoon the weekend before a beta launch. There seems to be a consensus among some employees that upper management makes very questionable decisions, particularly in regards to priorities. Too often, there would be a demand for a feature that imposed significant code change which would put the project months off schedule, and yet we'd be expected to somehow keep the schedule regardless.

    Advice to Senior ManagementMake the marketing department talk to developers and qa before they announce upcoming features and release dates. Some features they think aren't much require significant code change and provide a long stressful hassle for the development and qa teams that could be avoided, or at least improved, by better communication.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    6 people found this helpful  

    An overly complacent culture satisfied with mediocrity detached from the rest of the game development community.

    Programmer (Former Employee)
    San Diego, CA

    ProsGood compensation, benefits, and some great, talented people if you know where to find them. Crunch times are rare. If you're very motivated, you might find opportunities to really improve technology. The underlying technology behind client-server communications works quite well. San Diego is a beautiful city.

    ConsThere seems to be a prevailing culture that is content with relative mediocrity. Mediocre visual presentation quality, long loading times, poor frame rates, and frequent seconds long hitches and stalls are the norm here. There are technical reasons for these issues that are lost on the majority of the engineers who work there. Those engineers that bring invaluable experience from other game studios that produce far superior titles face an uphill battle as they attempt to explain how things can and should work better to technical leads. Some tech leads in particular are highly intelligent software engineers, but would be better suited to lead work on non gaming applications while they have little to no experience working at other game studios, and on top of it all, don't seem to even enjoy playing games very much, especially the competition. Micromanagement is often a big issue as well, and finding support when you really need it from tech leads is very challenging as they are spread too thin managing everybody else. Be prepared to be chastised for writing code that isn't compliant to an arbitrary personal standard even if it's highly legible, works flawlessly, and all but impossible to break.

    Effective developer tools are largely non-existent here. Other engineers have an air or arrogance when it comes to realizing the importance of good tools as they seem to think that they are the ones that make the games and fail to support the real hands-on developers: designers and artists. There's a real failure to realize that good tools means faster development time, and faster development time also means superior quality of output since motivation can remain high.

    Negative cash flow year after year with routine mass layoffs make company longevity outlook pessimistic. SOE employs hundreds of people, and despite working there for years, I have no idea who most of them are, and always wondered why despite there being so many people getting paid, the quality of work is abysmally low overall.

    Advice to Senior ManagementStart completely over. Throw all the current crappy in-house developer tools away and make new ones. There are employees that are highly motivated to make great things happen. Find them and offer more incentive to succeed. Tech leads stop micromanaging engineers, and allow them to lead themselves as experts in their own specialties. Designate experts in all fields: graphics, animation, physics, sound, tools, and delegate supporting roles toward them rather than trying to be the point-man for everything.

    – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Glassdoor is your free inside look at Sony Online Entertainment reviews and ratings — including employee satisfaction and approval rating for Sony Online Entertainment CEO John Smedley. All 78 reviews posted anonymously by Sony Online Entertainment employees.