Sony Online Entertainment

  www.sonyonline.com
  www.sonyonline.com

Sony Online Entertainment Reviews

Updated October 1, 2014
Updated October 1, 2014
82 Reviews
2.8
82 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley
John Smedley
62 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 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)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1. 3 people found this helpful  

    SOE opened up many doors but

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Billing and Technical Customer Support in San Diego, CA
    Current Employee - Billing and Technical Customer Support in San Diego, CA

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Swag, Perks, E3 and Fan Faire

    Cons

    Launch Days, Upper Management and lack of a decent break room.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    For starters it helps to know your employee’s by first name or last instead of referring to them by the project they worked on Smed. Also it seems a lot of people at SOE made promise they never intended to keep from games credits to future job openings.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2.  

    Overall, a great experience.

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

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    The bottom line for upper management is to make good games, retain people over the long haul and provide them with a good way to make a living. They try to make it a fun place to work, and encourage life balance. Yes, making money is important to them, but money is a means to an end. They are loyal to employees as much as practicality will allow. They don't lay people off unless they have to.

    Cons

    The company has been struggling over the last few years. The games are often too confusing and complex for the general public. The last couple of games were very expensive and did not do as well as expected. They haven't found a way to make a good profit under the new free-to-play business model. Company morale is currently low.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3. 7 people found this helpful  

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

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

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

    Pros

    Good 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.

    Cons

    There 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 ManagementAdvice

    Start 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.

    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    Good times, not-so-good pay

    • 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 an year)

    Pros

    There was a lot of interdepartmental socialization and communication. I often felt like "part of the team" instead of "just a QA". Occasional chances for career paths out of QA. Occasional work-sponsored activities (e.g. parking-lot barbecues, movie days).

    Cons

    Zero job security. Baseline pay, even for QA, with little chance for improvement/raises. Politics and favoritism in upper department management. Occasional unprofessionalism from colleagues and managers.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Be an advocate for your best people and a champion for quality!

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  6. 3 people found this helpful  

    You won't learn much, but at least it's a game job in San Diego

    • 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

    Pros

    At least it's a fairly stable job that allows you to enjoy living in San Diego
    It's game development, so that's always a little more fun and laid back than other companies

    Cons

    No one in upper management had a prior job where they learned first hand how to build and run a great organization.
    The level you come in as is the level you're going to stay … forever.
    There is a core circle of friends of the president, and then there's everyone else. Keep your opinions to yourself and just accept what you're asked to do.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Replace yourselves with people who know how to build a successful company, not just one that manages to survive.

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

    Reactionary circle jerk while looking to recapture faded glory

    • 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 (more than an year)

    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 ManagementAdvice

    Might 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.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8. 1 person found this helpful  

    Awesome culture, but at a cost

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

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Very laid back. Dress-code, environment, work hours, etc.

    Cons

    Struggling company, light on salaries, bonuses, raises, company events, etc.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 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
  10. 2 people found this helpful  

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

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Programmer in Austin, TX
    Former Employee - Programmer in Austin, TX

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

    Pros

    Awesome 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.

    Cons

    Upper 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 ManagementAdvice

    Understand 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.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11. 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

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

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