Sony Online Entertainment

  www.sonyonline.com
  www.sonyonline.com

Sony Online Entertainment Reviews

Updated November 4, 2014
Updated November 4, 2014
84 Reviews
2.6
84 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley
John Smedley
64 Ratings

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 12 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)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1. 2 people found this helpful  

    Get out as soon as you get on a development team.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Game Designer in San Diego, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Game Designer in San Diego, CA

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    - Good place to get your start in the industry.
          Promotions from QA & CS are common. If you bump into Smedley (current CEO) in the street and say something that amuses him, he may also hire you without any previous game/development/tech experience.

     - Impossible to get fired.
          It doesn't matter if you don't actually do anything, you can keep your job indefinitely, especially if you're a programmer. See: Cons

     - There are several brewery tasting rooms nearby.
          They're within walking distance so you can drown your sorrows before, during, or after work.

    Cons

    - Complete incompetence of management.
          The people steering the ship have no idea what they're doing. Nobody in charge has made a successful game this century. They also refuse to listen to the few experienced individuals who they have managed to hire.

    - Inexperienced staff.
          Since there is such a prevalence of individuals that have been promoted out of QA/CS/the street, the vast majority of people have only ever worked in game development at SOE. In several areas (particularly production) it's a case of the blind leading the blind. Nobody receives the training necessary to KNOW how to do their job properly.

     - Low turnover.
          The ratio of useful employees to useless ones skews heavily toward the latter. In addition to being plagued with inexperienced staff, most development teams have staff that either doesn't actually work, or are just straight up bad at their job. There is no personal responsibility or discipline taken against employees who continually fail to deliver. Bad employees are never let go as Smedley (and therefor all of upper management) sees the company not as a business, but as a family. Having a family is great, but this one is full of siblings you wish you could disown.

     - Too much value placed on programmers.
          In reality, they're the easiest to replace as most positions in this discipline can be recruited from outside the games industry. In every round of layoffs that the company has had, the programming department is always the least affected (often not at all affected), leading to an abundance of programmers who have no reason to fear losing their jobs and continue to underperform.

     - Unclear pipelines & muddy communication.
          The flow of information between disciplines is terrible. This is mostly due to inexperienced production staff, but is also affected by middle management never having been exposed to a functional work environment.

     - Poor games.
          It should go without saying, but all of the above is what contributes to the overall fact that the quality of games being created by SOE is terrible. The budgets are AAA, but the results are worse than most dedicated hobbyists could pull off. The structure that supports SOE allows it to create MMOs, which is the only thing that makes this company unique. This genre is dying and in need of some large changes to revitalize it, unfortunately I don't think the current incarnation of SOE is capable of doing that.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    - Complete any projects that have direction and achievable goals with positive outlook
          - Planetside on PS4
          - DCUO expansion
          - EQ & EQ2 expansions
     - Cancel everything else
          - EQ Next
          - Landmark
          - H1Z1
     - Remove C-level staff
     - Remove Franchise Directors
     - Lay off vast majority of programming staff
          - Ask senior programmers who is worth keeping
     - Ask remaining programmers, artists, designers and producers who actually WANTS to stay
          - The number is so low it may shock you
     - Change the name of the company
     - Recruit competent C-level employees
     - Restaff back up to 25% or less of the original headcount
          - Being far more selective and only hiring quality employees
     - During this restructuring time period, use the talent on hand to enter preproduction
          - A hand full of small (MMO/non-MMO & mobile) titles
          - Evaluate all projects and only enter production on few
          - Ensure reasonable scope, given this simple formula
                - cost = time * headcount

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2. 1 person found this helpful  

    Employees are NOT NPCs!

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

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

    Pros

    The people at SOE are so creative. Working with the game designers and the artists was quite a kick.

    Cons

    The team I worked on pretty much ran on long hours, insane deadlines, and incompetent incomprehensible management. The throw the phrase "crunch time" around like it's breakfast cereal, then take off on their own multi-week vacations.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Hire some? Consider replacing most of your directors and all of your VPs with someone who actually knows and/or cares that SOE is a BUSINESS.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3. 3 people found this helpful  

    Company needs improvement

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

    I worked at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Prior to the layoffs there was not much crunch time and work/life balance was well rounded.

    Cons

    At SOE, dialog was focused on results, structural reasons for results, external market reasons for results, any reason for results that did not require an understanding or accountability for what is really going on internally with employees and effective management within the company. There is a lack of emotional intelligence to be honest about what is really going on. SOE has a management issue and it starts by nobody wanting to even talk about it. Because emotional intelligence lacks among top leadership, the problem proliferates at all levels of the organization. There are great people that can’t express themselves, can’t contribute to their potential because questioning the “reality” is not within the company’s culture. Because of this, SOE does not take the risks they need to take to be great, at any level.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Take more responsibility for your actions.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. 4 people found this helpful  

    Nobody will appreciate your work

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

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment as a contractor (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    free coffee; free bagels and donuts on Fridays; every once in a while a free movie theater visit; you can bring your friendly dog

    Cons

    they hire people only as temps/contractor, unless you are a genius with special skills; they won't ever make you a permanent SOE employee, just so that they won't have to pay for your benefits; you won't make much money, barely enough to be able to make a living; they don't care about quality, more about quantity; everybody there has lost motivation and only wants to leave; regular layoffs make sure that the company is shrinking

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    care more about your people and you will have employees that will want to do great work to produce successful games; don't beat down everyone's motivation and learn how to appreciate someone

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6. 6 people found this helpful  

    Inexcusably low standards and apathy across the board

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

    I worked at Sony Online Entertainment as a contractor (more than an year)

    Pros

    Spotted throughout the company there are actually some really talented, nice people who have learned to just accept the laughably flawed process that Sony Online considers "Game Development". The quality of life of living in San Diego and the fact that all dev teams rarely crunch is pretty nice.

    Cons

    Sony Online Entertainment is the most bizarre place I've ever worked in my entire life. The standards at SOE are extremely low. I mean LOW. Low as in mind-blowing can not fathom how this company is profitable, how some folks wound up in their positions, and harness such poor effort, quality, and nonsense among the vast majority of their complacent and lethargic employees. If your whole mentality, approach, and general attitude towards making games is "eh, whatever who cares (knowing your work is riddled with bugs, will negatively effect other people/disciplines, and are ok with using broken, buggy, and extremely frustrating and annoying tools, then you will love it at Sony Online Entertainment. It's almost as if they reward mediocrity. If you read more reviews about Sony Online Entertainment, you'll see a pattern of employees past and present complaining about "Upper Management". Well..They're all accurate. The problem with these few people is extremely simple. They're not very good at their jobs. They really want to be; they're just not. When you have people in management positions who simply aren't very good, with subordinates (some of whom) are extremely talented, experienced, and motivated, those subordinates get beat down. Your motivation, creativity, inspiration, drive, passion..Gets BEAT DOWN to the point that you just can't keep spinning your wheels and just give up to the corporate & political world that is Sony Online Entertainment. The further you reach, in attempting to get information about a product or design will result in you being perceived as someone who's a lone wolf or going against the grain and it is EXTREMELY uninspiring to work in this type of atmosphere. It's a real shame that other studios are forced to close their doors who have such healthy game development processes and people, while (somehow) Sony Online hasn't closed due to making completely average (at best) games. Totally mind baffling.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I honestly don't think there is anything I could say that any manager at Sony Online Entertainment would ever actually take into consideration. They're mostly all stubborn know it all's who one way or another suck up to the president, Smed.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. 4 people found this helpful  

    Avoid, Avoid, Avoid

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

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Typically the hours don't crunch very much and the day-to-day work/life balance is even.

    Cons

    This company is riddled with people who have simply given up, or newbs being trained by beaten down has-been's. It's like a retirement home for developers who once cared about making great games. It is truly uninspiring to work in this atmosphere and it most definitely shows in the games that SOE produces (Even though upper management and Smed say that they're so amazing..yea (cough) sure). You will probably move up in the company if you "play ball" (aka: kiss ass, keep your mouth shut, and don't rock the boat), and in doing so you're basically selling out to a corporate/political force that is very much present. The management is the most incompetent I've ever seen, they allow employees to get away with unacceptably low standards of quality and effort and never take action on anyone or anything even though it's obvious that they should. Most people who work here have families so they are simply not willing to open their mouths, send that email, or ask that question that NEEDS TO BE ASKED/DONE. Everyone has given up and it is NOT the place to be if you are interested in making great games. I didn't feel lucky to work at SOE in any sense and quite frankly felt as though I took many steps backwards in my career.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Fire yourselves.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. 3 people found this helpful  

    A flaming hole of suck

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

    I worked at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Free bottled water... that's about it.

    Cons

    Nepotism and gross incompetence at the executive and director levels. I worked on multiple projects ordered by the exec team that resulted in negative revenue or 0% conversion. I was also instructed to work on multiple projects that were cancelled suddenly without explanation. Essentially... there is no coherent strategy or direction. Ever.

    General inattention to quality by a lot of C-grade employees who make up a disturbing proportion of the workforce. Software bugs in everything - both the games and the websites. If you work here, be prepared to do your own QA on any project.

    Processes are a horrible mutation of Agile which don't resemble any industry standard that I'm aware of.

    P.S. Working on smoggy Miramar Road will cut your life expectancy by 2 years.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Clean up your infrastructure and fire ineffective people.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  9. 4 people found this helpful  

    Do not work here

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

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Free Coffee and Ping Pong Tables

    Cons

    Terrible pay, excessive overtime, clique like managements. Outdated software development techniques. Life becomes the job, not family friendly.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Listen to your employees and care for their needs. Implement new strategies for success, and forget about what you did in the 90's.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10. 3 people found this helpful  

    Poor scheduling and oblivious management

    • 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

    Being part of the Sony family comes with some perks. Regular employees are generally talented and professional.

    Cons

    Completely broken schedule. Very poor awareness of environment by management. Cronyism. Old Boys Club. I've also heard from many of the programmers (what's left of them) that the game code is some of the worst coding they've ever seen and that they are constantly told there isn't any time for improvements. They also for whatever reason decided to break up an already understaffed client team to work on another project.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    There isn't much advice to give to management that they haven't already heard. I think there is a general refusal to accept reality here. It has been said before but there is an obvious attachment to certain individuals at the company that anywhere else would be fired for a small fraction of the failures that have happened on their watch. Between the finger pointing when things go wrong, to an obvious lack of understanding in the subject matter that they are supposed to be experts in, it really forces the rest of us to take on their responsibilities while getting paid a fraction of what they do to sit in a closed office doing who knows what. I've watched several people come and go in short time and the reasons for leaving are always bad management and bad planning.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11. 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

Sony Online Entertainment Photos

View of the Sony Online Entertainment headquarter office located in San Diego, CA (Photo by Coolcaesar - available under CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0 & GFDL, v1.180)
SOE Lobby

+ Add Photo

Work at Sony Online Entertainment? Share Your Experiences

Sony Online Entertainment

 
Click to Rate
or

Your response will be removed from the review – this cannot be undone.