Sony Online Entertainment

  www.sonyonline.com
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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

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)

78 Employee Reviews
in
    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    4 people found this helpful  

    Reactionary circle jerk while looking to recapture faded glory

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee) San Diego, CA

    Pros- Some very smart engineers who have creative ideas.
    - Benefits package is very good
    - Filled with passionate gamers who are dying for a successful game
    - Week off of Christmas without counting as PTO
    - Lots of people in mid to lower levels that are pushing to make break thru changes

    Cons- They make games that are just not fun, with no long-term sustainability other than a very small niche group.
    - Weak marketing campaigns, and very low budget to do it on. Recycled ideas that show little originality. But are probably stuck there by low budgets for poorly performing games.
    - Sweep under the rug or spin poor results of promotions, campaigns, game launches, etc... without ever holding anyone accountable.
    - Finally starting to pay attention to analytics that other companies have recognized for years.
    - Struggling to find a hit game caused them to reach to purchase some truly awful games (Bullet Run, Wizardry, Dragons Prophet) which are a waste of everyone's time.
    - Way behind on technology for making and supporting games. A few key people in love with stuff they dreamed up as a "standard" that all games must use, but in reality is a poor excuse for what a modern tool or language or open-source standard could do for them.
    - Cut QA teams so much that we can't do our job to the level we all want. Very little investment in tools or processes to make this aspect of the company better.
    - All teams are on a shoe-string budget, so very little hiring to bring in help, reserves, or fresh blood. (Not sure but there seemed to only be one System Administrator in the whole company due to people leaving or getting layed off). Requests for work took a long time to get completed as the tech folks were always waiting on getting a server or support to work through legacy processes.
    - Working with teams that say they are using "Agile" processes is frustrating. Compared to what other companies do to adhere to Agile, SOE just uses a term that allows management, Smed, or marketing, or seemingly anyone to throw more tasks (with very little requirements) into the "sprint". This caused delays, or frustrations. Sometimes a key part of the system being built would be completely dropped, but not because of priorities, but because necessary requirements were changed so many times that no one knew what they were trying to build. By the time it reached QA no one was able to tell us what it was we were supposed to test in detail.
    - Bonuses are always a small fraction of what was promised as the games are not making the money they need to support the company.
    - Rarely seem to finish strategic initiatives to allow future advances on game support or underlying technology.
    - People that have innovative ideas that embrace new technologies, and who stand up to the "SOE lifers" that are protecting their archaic ways are often marginalized, let go, or back-stabbed to the point they become ineffective.

    Advice to Senior ManagementMight be time to bring in some new senior people for game design, tech, and marketing departments. Long playing MMOs are out of style when they have no objective but to keep grinding. Consoles and mobile games with clear objectives are where the industry is heading. No one on staff (left) has any knowledge of this.
    Lots of good people are endless frustrated by the over-promises, and failure to deliver on anything.

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

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    Talented developers, but horribly crippled development process out of their control.

    Programmer (Former Employee) Austin, TX

    ProsAwesome kitchen, great HR and IT departments, and enough monitors for everyone to have three or four. The company is also not afraid to spend money on team events every few months, or for cake and beer after shipping a DLC.

    ConsUpper management is too far removed from the actual development process to understand its huge flaws. Developers are consistently forced to martyr themselves with a substandard tool set, horrendous build process, old hardware, and an unstable code base. Some departments are forced to do this with an insufficient amount of people, causing them to have to pull the weight of multiple people while still coping with all of the above. More work and projects doesn't mean more people or more forgiving deadlines, it just means more work.

    Advice to Senior ManagementUnderstand the flaws in your development process and actually use some resources to fix them. I understand that it doesn't directly generate revenue, but it would go a long way for the quality of the product, not to mention employee retention rate. Movies, cake and monitors are great, and they are appreciated, but they make it only marginally less difficult to deal with the same problems day after day, with no upper management willing to allocate resources to fix them. It's a far greater motivator for people to stay if they can actually enjoy the work they are doing, and be excited about the project. But they can't do that when the development process is terrible, and they are constantly forced to ship substandard quality work even after torturing themselves trying to make it work in their favor.

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

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    About what you can expect for a standard call center

    Billing and Technical Customer Support (Former Employee) San Diego, CA

    ProsFree coffee.
    Doughnut and bagels once a week.
    No drug testing (sad that I have to stretch to that for a pro...)

    ConsSenior management had no idea who you work (workflow) or some of the abuse you put up with dealing with customers.
    Enough pay to barely make a living in the city they are located.
    No chance of being hired as an official employee for about five years.

    Advice to Senior ManagementStop only using contract and actually hire people, might give them pride in their work

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

  1. We want your feedback – Are these company reviews helpful to you?  Yes | No
    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    Great for a first job into the gaming field

    QA Tester (Former Employee) Foster City, CA

    ProsDon't need much experience
    Really easy to get into
    Pay is okay for the work performed
    Great people to work with
    Pretty good work environment
    Lost of over times to make extra cash

    ConsHorrible managers
    Really bad hierarchy
    Managers treats workers like kids
    Almost impossible to get a promotion
    Some times was forced to do over time or you would get in trouble if you didn't do it.

    Advice to Senior ManagementTreat your workers with respect. Also forcing your workers to do over time is pretty much illegal

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

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

    4 people found this helpful  

    A lot of potential, marred by inept management

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee) San Diego, CA

    Pros- Regularly attracts good talent
    - It's in San Diego and Austin

    Cons- Short-sighted and often plain bad promotions led to production issues on numerous projects
    - Long history of promoting from within results in managerial stagnation and ineptitude
    - Anemic marketing department, given too much sway over development
    - Numerous top level decision failures resulted in company with tarnished rep and fewer prospects

    Advice to Senior Management- Hire managers externally, not within - it's breeding favoritism over potential
    - Stamp out rampant problem of politics, often encouraged by managers
    - Cut the fat: there are a LOT of mid-responsibility people on the payroll who serve little purpose, and take up resources to hire the Tier 1 and 2 people you do need in CS, QA, Art, and Jr Devs
    - Cross-platform is a lofty goal but it's not worth it
    - Pre-production planning has been SOE's Achilles heel for years, from SWG to EQ2 to The Agency. Hire external producers who know how to stay on vision and are on board with the project.
    - Leave the marketers out of dev meetings. Period.

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

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    Short-Term Experience

    Billing and Technical Customer Support (Former Employee) San Diego, CA

    ProsEasy-going. Casual dress code. Flexible Schedule. Free Coffee. Membership bonuses for their games.

    ConsHigh turnover rate. Nepotism. A bit disorganized. Performance does not matter as much as it should.

    Advice to Senior Management...

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    Fun job, frustrating management.

    Game Designer (Former Employee) San Diego, CA

    ProsAs a gamer, working on an MMO is a ton of fun. Almost everyone on the team was super passionate, and worked to do as much as possible despite the limited team size.

    ConsRotating cycle of bad management--except at the very top, Smedley never rotated. Teams are consistently under pressure to change things and produce content based upon pre-existing ideals/buzzwords from higher up that have no impact upon the success of a game--and usually hurt it quite a bit. Also, launch dates set years in advance are wholly immovable--company would much rather ship a below average unfinished product than take the time to finish it.

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

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    Wildly fun, but frighteningly unpredictable.

    QA Tester (Former Employee) San Diego, CA

    ProsCasual dress code
    Free coffee
    Enjoyable if you take pride in creating a quality product
    Decent wages for an entry-level position
    Professional-sounding email address
    Lots of overtime hours (if you're a workaholic)

    ConsNepotism (hiring/promotions based on family/romantic relationships)
    Yearly massive layoffs (coupled with large yearly bonuses for upper management)
    Very clique-ish workplace
    Work performance is unappreciated.
    Lack of communication between different departments.
    Extremely slim chance for advancement
    Apprenticeship programs do not adequately teach viable game-industry skills.

    Advice to Senior ManagementTreat your employees as valuable investments instead of disposable assets. Promote from within. Do not lay off tons of employees within a week of handing out massive bonuses to upper management.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    Stressful and annoying

    Billing and Account Representative (Former Employee) San Diego, CA

    ProsIf you can deal with the angry customers, you're in the clear. The people next to you are fairly nice, so you can usually ask them for help.

    ConsThere are a LOT of angry customers due to poor game design, inconsistent site information, and simply... Stupid people. Opens at 7, and last thing you want to hear is a screaming customer.

    Advice to Senior ManagementStop standing around chatting with each other and keep an eye out on the chat... The longer a customer has to be on the phone, the angrier they get, and we have to deal with them, not you.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Work quality overshadowed by who you know.

    Game Designer (Former Employee) San Diego, CA

    ProsThe pay is average for an entry-level position in the video game industry.
    Benefits decent for full-time employees.
    free coffee.
    Great for getting your foot in the door of the video game industry.
    Apprenticeship program allows contract employees to get hands-on experience in design, code, or art departments.
    Employee camaraderie can (at times) be amazing, and it's easy to make friends in the workplace.
    Producers of individual titles are easily approachable, friendly, professional, and very open to new ideas.

    ConsNepotism at its worst. Promotions and long-term careers only available to people who are personal friends to middle management. This affects all departments: Design, QA, CS, Tech, etc.
    Sr Management, like so many other companies, is full of older people who refuse to evolve their business models.
    Annual mass-layoffs are expected at the beginning of the first business quarter.
    The only real chance for the contract employees to gain full-time work is to survive the layoffs for about 3 years. Then they might have a shot at getting full-time employment (if they're friends with the right people).
    Middle management/supervisors are not in touch with their employees. Problems that come up are ignored.
    Like so many other game companies, SOE does not embrace new ideas/designs brought by their non-management employees.
    Creativity is stifled.
    Very "clique-ish" atmosphere, both for full-time and contract employees.

    Advice to Senior ManagementAll video game companies are somewhat stagnant and refuse to allow creativity to flow. Be the innovators, SOE, and start listening to the new blood coming in the doors. There are some brilliant ideas out there, even among the contract employees. Open your door and give these kids a shot, the way you were given a shot.

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