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

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    A fairly typical gaming QA experience.

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

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

    Pros

    Flexible hours, management relatively easy to work with.

    Cons

    Low pay, QA advice rarely listened to.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    QA is never going to improve until you can retain your best testers. Your best testers will always leave for better paying jobs (that they might enjoy less or not be as good at). QA is never going to improve until the salaries do.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2. 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
  3. 4 people found this helpful  

    A lot of potential, marred by inept management

    • 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 5 years)

    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 ManagementAdvice

    - 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.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5.  

    A Great Place to Work

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

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

    Pros

    Really great place to work with managers who understand the family to work balance needs of employees. Plus they make video games!

    Cons

    In my time there they had 3 layoffs. I was caught in the third one in 2011. I don't think there has been one since then.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 2 people found this helpful  

    No support for the support.

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

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

    Pros

    Great Co-Workers, good learning experience, amazing products, good opportunities to see the industry from the inside.

    Cons

    It is almost impossible to advance beyond a starting position. The pay is a bit low. No benefits or vacation to speak of.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Try to acknowledge the effort of the good employees. There is no incentive besides the treat of unemployment - change that.

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

    Short-Term Experience

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

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

    Pros

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

    Cons

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

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    ...

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. 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
  9. 6 people found this helpful  

    Politics, Politics, Politics

    • 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

    Decent pay and good benefits.

    Cons

    Terrible management and lots of backstabbing between employees. Inexperienced studio management making very poor development decisions and blaming failure on lower employees. Terrible understanding of scheduling and process. Hostile attitudes toward employees wanting to transfer from one SOE office to another.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Honestly, I think the place is so broken they need to be shut down and Sony needs to start over.

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO
  10. 5 people found this helpful  

    Spend a year or two there - then go somewhere else

    • 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 3 years)

    Pros

    (most of the time) fun atmosphere
    Passionate people at the lower levels

    Cons

    Broken people at the middle levels

    Incompetence galore at the top - too many times they have displayed their lack of trust in the people they have hired.

    Too many people promoted by "sucking up" socially.
    Too many people promoted by "sucking up" physically.

    Don't worry; they won't fire you. They will just create a position for you to sit in till they have their next yearly layoff (maybe this is a pro?)

    Nonsensically abusive; if you work here, be prepared for the mentality of "the beatings will continue until morale improves" and you'll be reminded that everyone on Earth would easily step in at your pay grade.

    Overtime is also optional; so is working at Sony.

    Upper and middle have hired/promoted too many friends; about every 2-3 years all the talent runs away and the good ol boys stay

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stay off twitter, stay away from dev and stop listening to marketing all the time.

    Manage your people and let your people do the work.
    Don't step in with your "brilliant idea that must be implemented!".
    Don't revamp game systems a month before launch...

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11. 5 people found this helpful  

    Terrible products, Terrible company

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

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Some of the people are nice. Not too much overtime. Decent bonuses.

    Cons

    No career advancement or salary raises unless you are part of the in-crowd. Very cliquey, high school environment. Stale, irrelevant products. Low salaries. Absolutely no future to move up or work on anything different/more challenging.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Why do you think so many employees are jumping ship?? get it together, people. Management is constantly changing and company policies seem to change depending on who is in charge that week.

    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)
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