Splash Damage Reviews

Updated August 6, 2015
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3.6
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Splash Damage Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO Paul Wedgwood
Paul Wedgwood
7 Ratings

11 Employee Reviews

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  1. Possibly the best games studio to work for in the UK as a Environment Artist

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Environment Artist in Bromley, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Environment Artist in Bromley, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Splash Damage full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    As an Environment Artist I cannot imagine a better place to work. Tim Appleby is a fantastic Art Director who provides myself and other artists with creative freedom which is extremely important in my day to day work. Tim and the leads have given me so much responsibility during my time on Gears of War. This is something that I never thought I would have access to so early in my career and I am extremely grateful to be a part of the team at Splash. I cannot speak more highly of Splash Damage and I would strongly recommend any inspiring artist to apply.

    Cons

    During crunch the days are long...very long, however i did get back all my hours worth as extra holiday :)

    Advice to Management

    I think more project based bonuses would help keep the very talented artists staying put here at one of the best games studio in the world.


  2. perfect studio for artists

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Character Artist in Bromley, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Character Artist in Bromley, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Splash Damage full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Art Driven studio with a great art director, fantastic concepts to work from, interesting projects close knit art team, tea, coffee, not many micro-scooters in the office,

    Cons

    In an area that's pretty pricey property wise, esp for families

    Advice to Management

    minor transparency issues here and there but keep doing what you are doing


  3. Helpful (2)

    Nice place to work!

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Splash Damage full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Really nice people. Working for games! Interesting challenges.

    Cons

    Company mainly focused on "remastering" games from other publisher.


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  5. Great set of people, good projects, though lots of hours sometimes

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Lead Programmer in Bromley, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Lead Programmer in Bromley, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Splash Damage full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great place and place, Great break room with table football and games consoles, free drinks Overtime sometimes paid Great Projects Really worked with you with things like hours in office, remote access etc. Have started to publish and develop own titles to get really great freedom

    Cons

    Sometimes lots of extra hours As an independent sometimes project cancelled for no reason (from us as developers point of view anyway)

    Advice to Management

    None, keep it up


  6. Helpful (2)

    Talented people but mismanaged projects

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Splash Damage full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Very strong artists. There is strong leadership here and a high quality bar that sadly sometimes got undermined because the tech side was under-resourced. Pretty strong programming team if a bit small. There are plenty of people you can learn a lot from here, not just in terms of knowledge but style/attitude, too. CEO is ambitious, not afraid to take risks to grow the business. This can make the company quite exciting to work at. CEO is also financially aware. Many studios in the UK fell under or had to beg for scraps as a result of the credit crunch but Splash Damage diversified and emerged relatively unscathed. While the studio does focus on multiplayer, it doesn't stick to doing the same thing over and over. Projects are varied, expect to tackle different genres within your career here. Senior management are very accomplished at building and maintaining strong studio-publisher relationships and generating high-profile business for the company. The Fireteam team and its tech are very strong assets considering the studio's multiplayer leanings, as are the in-house tools that have been built up over the years. The company culture is pretty good and there are plenty of opportunities for everyone to get together as a company. Teams give presentations on their projects and when this is happening regularly you feel well-informed on what's going on. Everyone is friendly and people regularly socialise inside and outside of work. While a bit distant from local amenities, the office is spacious and well appointed and will only continue to get better as time goes on. Central London is also only 30 minutes' away (10-minute walk, 20-minute train), so it's not out in the sticks like quite a few studios in the UK. Since I left, improvements have been made to employee remuneration, which was definitely a gripe of mine.

    Cons

    Certain projects undergo 'dead donkey flogging' without any regard to the impact this has on creatively-minded/motivated personnel. This means rather than everyone being able to celebrate their achievements together as a company, there is awkwardness and segregation between the projects. The company is quite top-heavy, leading to sluggish decision-making, 'foggy' ownership/accountability and impasses in career progression. Senior management had turned into a bit of an old boys' club, with very little accountability for failed projects and little visibility on their day-to-day activities, other than micromanaging inconsequential elements of a project. Some jaded game developers at the top end of the food chain have started to rest on their laurels because they've been burnt by crunch and underwhelming end products. Great game devs who are now 'lifers' because they're no longer being creatively challenged, just physically and mentally pressured to hit unrealistic deadlines. Lots of very progressive yet half-baked company cultural initiatives that aren't properly revisited, evaluated and nurtured to reach their full potential, e.g. 20% Time, Skills Matrix, Agile etc. These projects show promise of where SD could be if it were better managed. The CEO is incredibly distant from most employees, relying on an array of company-wide surveys to get feedback on how people are feeling. Only walks the dev floor if chaperoned by a visiting investor or publisher bigwig contingent. It's very difficult to feel in tune with a CEO who only ever talks at a crowd of you, and not to you on a personal level.

    Advice to Management

    The studio has made it through the tough times of the credit crunch, now is the time to invest and make strategic improvements. When a project has failed, be transparent about it, call it a day and put it behind you. Don't try to flog a dead donkey by trying to square-peg the project into a round hole. It's not a weakness to be honest about a failure if you learn from it. Failing to be honest about failures engenders a culture where people fear failure instead of embracing it as a necessary part of game dev. The production team is a bit too entrenched in 'fire fighting' instead of making long-term improvements to production methodologies; they wear it like a badge of honour but really it's a sign the process as a whole is failing if you are constantly overscoped and fighting to keep your head above water. The project management process desperately needs shaking up with the goal of scoping projects intelligently and accurately so employees have the space and energy to deliver their very best. Beefing up the team a bit would help as they definitely seemed overworked, but the problem is mostly philosophical: the mentality needs to evolve. The studio should look at committing to real Agile work principles, and move away from using Waterfall dressed up as Agile. At SD features were being released buggy and incomplete and it was accepted that they would be revisited later. This is not Agile! Real Agile focuses on continuous releases of completed features by putting estimation and scope into the hands of the developers, and keeping the final say in the hands of a single, available product owner while committing only to an achievable level of quality. Don't schedule meetings for during people's lunch breaks. It's really disrespectful and disruptive to their schedules and when this happens regularly at the top it sets a very poor example for others to follow. Shake off that 90s mentality you have for QA in games development. The test team at SD is smaller than most other similar sized studios in the UK and it shows in the end product.


  7. Helpful (2)

    A great opportunity to be great, thwarted by their own hubris.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Splash Damage full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Free Coffee, beer fridays, really awesome ground level workers.

    Cons

    Upper management literally gave me suicidal depression

    Advice to Management

    Stop suggestion improvements and details when there projects are clearly over-scoped and under staffed and start getting involved your workers. You look like overpaid QA staff.


  8. Helpful (2)

    Overall it was a good experience, but no long term future

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Programmer in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Programmer in London, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Splash Damage full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - Great company culture and some great people to work with. - Good, competitive salaries for the industry. - Good location not too far from London. - Rather appealing project and interesting technical challenges to solve during my time working there.

    Cons

    - Poor management: inexperienced staff making decisions, which resulted in very long working hours and a poor end product that had to come out half-finished. - Very little room to contribute with ideas and solutions to problems during development.

    Advice to Management

    Do not promote people without any real experience for managerial positions.


  9. Helpful (4)

    Has its issues

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Technical Artist in Bromley, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Technical Artist in Bromley, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Splash Damage full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Very good atmosphere between most employees. As an artist this is a real top notch company, standards are very high. They really are not satisfied with good enough, usually you're able to perform at your best. Senior management seems to take good business decisions, keeping the company financially healthy (as far as a mere employee can tell). If you have some experience, pay can be good as long as you ask for it. As a junior (artist), good company to get started since its not easy to get hired and will look good on your resume.

    Cons

    Unfortunately, the split into separate corporate entities (developer, publisher and online services) has made the company much less efficient. Senior management spend most of their time in meetings with each other and are very detached from the actual development, yet despite this, they still want to keep tight control over the game's direction. Very little communication from them, save for the at times almost irrelevant little requests trickling down. The result of senior members moving up in the ranks is that there are no proper replacements, projects can go without (lead) game designer, art director, creative director or any form of senior producer. Despite the company's long history, I feel they still don't properly understand what makes a great, fun game. This is obvious from things such as senior management never playing or seemingly even caring about the actual gameplay, internal presentations being mostly about impressing with visuals as well as external marketing mostly trying to keep up appearances. All in all so much effort goes into the visual side of things while the gameplay and creative side are limping behind. In terms of HR, things can go very slowly. A performance review system had only recently been implemented and is still in its infancy, working time is not tracked so overtime compensation is up to the management's best judgement.

    Advice to Management

    Don't try to hold on to control over the entire development process, hire some competent people and leave the creative side up to them. Good games are not designed by committee to appeal to the lowest common denominator.


  10. Helpful (3)

    Growing pains

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Splash Damage full-time

    Pros

    * Good projects and a lot of variety of work * Despite being independent the company seems to plan well financially. You don't feel like risks are going to be taken that could threaten staff pay. Senior management have made some big sacrifices in the past to benefit the team * Pay is fair * Atmosphere is good, there are some talented dev staff * High quality of art work, almost to the detriment of projects at times

    Cons

    * Damaging sense of entitlement among the dev team. A lot of junior staff who have joined the industry in the last few years show incredible arrogance towards colleagues, management and the company despite no success or experience. Many spend more time consuming coffee and setting the world to rights than they do on their projects. Some leads have the same attitude giving the impression this is acceptable and constructive behavior * Senior management make good strategic decisions but then fail to execute on them. The ideas rarely develop for long before direction changes, causing damage to schedules * Senior management are too detached from day-to-day development and the current generation of games players * Emphasis on design and gameplay is almost non-existent. A lot of weak designers on the team and lack of design leadership leads to no common direction on projects * Some unacceptable crunch periods, usually as a result of bad decisions at the top and frequent changes of direction

    Advice to Management

    * Focus on players, gameplay and design * Cut features early, polish the work we have. Rich sets of bad features do not make for good games * Stay the course * It doesn't hurt once in a while to discipline or give feedback to bad staff


  11. Best studio I've worked for. Sometimes a little too ambitious

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Artist in Bromley, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Artist in Bromley, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Splash Damage full-time

    Pros

    Focus on working on exciting projects, so the project morale is high. People are trusted to really shine in their given field of expertise without being hounded. Talent is everywhere, the guys in the trenches are really good at what they do, no question. The pay is above average. The company is very transparent about all its plans and pitfalls

    Cons

    Little focus on design. A case of the art saving the design seems to be a curse that's hard to shake. Also, the Work hours are more than the average. We work an extra hour than any other studio I've ever worked at and it can be a little difficult to adjust; plus overtime seems inevitable as the projects leads rarely sacrifice their ambition.

    Advice to Management

    Sacrifice some ambition when things are getting really tough, and make contingency plans



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