Treyarch
2.8 of 5 17 reviews
www.treyarch.com Santa Monica, CA 150 to 499 Employees

Treyarch Reviews

Updated Jun 21, 2014

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2.8 17 reviews

                             

100% Approve of the CEO

Treyarch Studio Head Mark Lamla

Mark Lamla

(7 ratings)

42% of employees recommend this company to a friend
17 Employee Reviews
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    1 person found this helpful  

    Passionate and rewarding environment.

    Game Designer (Current Employee)
    Santa Monica, CA

    ProsThe entire atmosphere of the company is very friendly. Over the past 4 years I've developed many many great relationships with my colleagues, most of whom I would consider close friends at this point. From QA, to Management, to the Studio Head, they're all an amazing group to be able to work with.

    I came on at the bottom of the ladder. Thankfully, my passion for the franchise got my foot into the door, and with hard work, a good attitude, and a yearning to continue to soak up knowledge I've been able to move into a design position. Directors, leads, etc definitely appreciate a passion for the product in their employees, whether it be through showing passion for your work or showing a passion for the game itself.

    The production staff at Treyarch of course varies from member to member, but the ones I've worked with have been an integral part of the final product. With one of the most played games today, heavy focus on high polish, and a tight schedule, it's important that people are able to focus on creating the best game possible. Production provides that opportunity and keeps the machine well-oiled.

    One of my favorite things about Treyarch employees are that they come from all backgrounds. If you design levels as a hobby and one day decide to try your hand at it professionally, Treyarch will absolutely hire you if you've got the chops. If you are an artist just out of school with no experience, yet you can create beautiful art, Treyarch will absolutely hire you. It's so great to see a company that is willing to "gamble" on someone without experience, whether it be fresh out of school or someone without a formal education in their set of skills. This also applies to the intern program, many of which are hired on full time after their internship and school is completed and have went on to become Senior level employees. On the flipside, there are many veterans of the industry working at Treyarch, who have shipped a ton of games and are the best in the business at what they do.

    That brings me to the room for growth at Treyarch. I regularly see my colleagues rewarded for their hard work and amazing skills with promotions. We have many many high level employees who started in entry level positions. This shows by how everyone treats each other with respect, regardless of pay grade or stature. As mentioned before, Treyarch appreciates beautiful work first and foremost, and if you're willing to put the time in to learn a skill, they will give you the opportunity to make that skill your full time job. A great number of designers, artists, and producers were in another path at some point, and were either encouraged or took it upon themselves to learn their current craft.

    Fun gatherings occur on occasion, whether it be our yearly holiday party (usually Vegas - paid for by company), a friends and family lunch outside with catered food, monthly cake for birthdays...I could go on. These are always a blast and much appreciated.

    Overall, Treyarch is a passionate group of people, who work together, laugh together, cry together, and ship some of the best games the world has seen together.

    ConsTeams are fairly segregated, so it can be difficult to keep up with what the separate teams are working on.

    Advice to Senior ManagementCoordinate more social gatherings. Whether it's a party at the studio for a couple of hours , or company outings. I could see those things greatly improving the overall mood of the studio. It would also give us the chance to get to know other employees who we never have the chance to work with.

    And keep up the great work!

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Amazing Experience

    Lighting Artist (Former Employee)
    Santa Monica, CA

    ProsI had the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing people in the industry. The work that was created was of exceptional quality and I felt that the company treated their employees quite well. While their were some long hours during crunch I felt as an employee I was compensated and treated quite fairly. Management went out of their way to make sure everyone was happy. Another perk was that I felt that management actually listened to what the employees had to say and took this into consideration. I felt appreciated overall. I would love the chance to go back and work for them again one day. Great company, great experience.

    ConsSome long hours but honestly that is everywhere you go. I felt compensated for my time and hours I put in.

    Advice to Senior ManagementThank you for taking the time to listen and support the artist working on the projects as it meant a lot. Overall, while working here I felt respected and that I had a voice in the company and that also went a long way. I felt there was strong leadership and that I was directed in a way that could get the work done as quickly as possible. Great team of people.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Interesting work, top tier product, great people

    Senior Software Engineer (Current Employee)
    Santa Monica, CA

    ProsBest in industry benefits for full-time workers. Good health care options, matching 401k, good salaries, and substantial discretionary bonuses paid out based on your contribution. Kitchens are well stocked with good eats and free drinks, equipment is top of the line and the work environment is pretty hip.

    There is a really diverse group of talented people working here that love what they're doing.
    There are very few people(i can't think of any actually) that I could say that I dislike working with. No matter what your interests are at work or in your personal life, you are sure to find somebody who you can identify with. While its a large team, everybody feels like they have a voice and can express honest opinions with each other.

    I feel that the company does a good job at recognizing talent and that there is ample room for advancement. If you put in the hard work, the company most definitely will notice. If there are career opportunities that you're interested in, you will surely be given consideration for that role.

    Management seems willing to try new things based on team's feedback and for the most part do a pretty good job at running the 200+ employee company. Treyarch consistently delivers great product and I really love the way everybody I meet is always so excited to hear what I work on.

    The Engineering department has very little turn over, most guys are what I'd consider veterans. This speaks volumes to me with respect to how people feel about the company.

    ConsMy commute is pretty far, not obviously their fault. Santa Monica is a pleasant location at least.

    Advice to Senior ManagementContinue allowing the developers the freedoms to express themselves in creating the top quality products.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Designers challenge management, management discourages designers

    Associate Game Designer (Current Employee)
    Santa Monica, CA

    Pros- Working with some of the greatest people in the industry that you truly look up to and respect for their knowledge and expertise. You take to heart every time you learn something from them and not afraid to ask questions to draw from their vault of mastery in the game development craft.

    - Great health benefits and discounts (make use of the FedEx services inside Activision across the street, it's like 85% off for domestic and international shipping).

    - If you're on the Multiplayer team you'll be getting paid significantly more than Singleplayer / Coop member.

    - Occasionally have catering from different vendors like ice cream, coffee, or even In-N-Out.

    - There is Board Game Night every other Thursday across the street at Activision with food and games to socialize with people from Activision (not reflective of Treyarch but it's open to us too, goes in hand with a culture point I've written under Cons).

    - Employee referral bonus.

    - Work on a great IP that everyone in the industry recognizes and respects. Great for building your portfolio.

    - Besides the crunch towards the last ~8 months of a project (see my point under Cons), family time is easy to manage and no one really bats an eye if you leave early or use sick / vacation days without actually needing to use it.

    - Relocation assistance that includes temp housing and apartment search assistance, just be sure to negotiation you have those tools at your disposal and try to ask for as much time that they're willing to give you with them.

    - Receptive to new people in the industry, such as graduates right out of school or even modders, for full-time positions.

    - During crunch they cover dinner, and sometimes lunch (but it depends who you know, this is turning into a Con now...)

    - Kitchen stocked with lots of (unhealthy) food and drinks.

    - Access to free supplies and equipment for mailing / shipping / faxing / etc...

    - You have an army of Producers / Associate Producers to handicap your development pipeline and interdepartmental communication (although not how I work nor learn, they're on reserve).

    - Bagels every Friday morning.

    - Overall, it's fun working on the IP and everyday presents a new challenge. There are fun days and then there are not so fun days, but everyone sticks together to make amazing games.

    Cons- Working with some of the greatest people in the industry some of which are in a clique or have an unapproachable demeanor (though to their credit they might be nice people and just grump / burned out).

    - HR treats you like a kid that can't be trusted.

    - Design decisions made behind closed doors and then wasting time of designers by having them create pitch documents (that are throwaway) to make them feel like they came up with the ideas.

    - Rarely ever see the people making those design decisions (behind closed doors) come to design meetings or playtests, you may never even interact with them at all; big disconnection.

    - Commit to ideas made behind closed doors even when designers or other team members make call outs for something early on that isn't fun. You'll need to make the committed vision fully playable as intended down to the tee (can't get avant-garde as it isn't part of the vision) to essentially prove to the management behind the closed doors that their vision isn't fun. By that point time is wasted and team is burned out after having predicted it early on in the process. Flush and recycle process.

    - Design Leads and Seniors (who do a decent job managing) tend to be die-hard RPG or niche indie game fans, often making a 1:1 copy in design decisions that are out of touch and / or don't translate to fun gameplay in the product being developed. This is glaringly obvious when mechanics are being decided / designed behind closed doors by a single person -- while you can't please everyone the motto seems to be "please the person who is flipping switches". Which leads to the next point...

    - Of the entire studio of people that I know, you can count the number of die-hard gamers of the product / franchise developed on one hand. These are people who may have been playing since the original franchise title or play it constantly to know from a critical standpoint what makes it fun, yet they have no stake / voice in decision making.

    - Promises to unify Design department by having them sit together and collaborating, yet sanctions off a "special" team of designers to sit secluded somewhere else in the building working on game-wide stuff which results in groupthink affecting the game usually in a negative result, and / or design decisions not being communicated to the entire design team until you stumbled on something you thought was a bug but is a new feature.

    - Err on the side of stagnant design and are quick to nicely turn down ideas; too afraid to truly innovate leading the way and bring a freshness to the IP. There is a formula to how the IP is made, granted, but they wear it too tight like underwear and often wait for other titles in the IP franchise make their move (or even other game changers in the industry).

    - If you try something new or avant-garde that is outside the norm of what other people are doing (even if it's on your off time, like literally, off the clock) people will freak out and lay down a road block. They'll talk down to you and make you feel in the wrong coming up with absurd reasons, even if your intention was to add value to the studio's product.

    - No real sense of ownership of what you work on (in regards to levels), everyone has their hand in the cookie jar for better or for worse. Don't get too attached too something, they may (and likely will) take you off completely or add too many people to it that you'll get budged off the feature.

    - Low salary but upsell you on promises of bonuses which recently went through company policy change that you can't discuss with other employees nor be told by supervisors why you got XYZ amount. As expected, there are some large discrepancies for bonuses that appear to be based on a friendship program.

    - No real sense of family in the culture besides an obligatory holiday party every year; there is maybe one (if lucky) office get together a year. No one really does anything outside of work together as a studio (excluding lunch) unless you're in a clique.

    - Aggressively hire people from outside rather than promote within, you'll get spammed with emails every time a game studio closes to forward resumes if you have friends at the impacted studio.

    - If someone in upper management doesn't like you, you may be shortly (and coincidentally) asked to take tests to prove your level of skills and / or skimp out on bonuses, essentially making you feel like uncomfortable like you want to quit so they can save on not laying you off with a severance package.

    - No room for promotions unless someone leaves or you're in with the right political people, no matter how hard you work. Have known some people who were (and currently still) stuck in the same Jr and Midlevel position for 5+ years even after asking for a well deserved promotion and getting sold on promises to wait.

    - Tend to stall production development until ~8 months before alpha / beta dates, at which point a harsh crunch schedule kicks in that could have been avoided.

    - It's taboo to seek out / communicate with other departments directly, even if it speeds up and makes your development turnaround more effective. Producers and Associate Producers will hound you to go through them, even if the person on the other department line is happy to help you directly.

    - Get told you can only bring in immediate family to visit the studio, and even then very selective on who and what areas you can access to avoid guests seeing product development. The con being that you'll then see "certain" individuals bring friends in or even their kids who get hands-on time with the product, while your childhood best friend from out of state can't even walk into the lobby to see / take a picture.

    - Prohibited from communicating with other studios working on the same franchise in fear of trading development secrets... on the same IP. This including not communicating with the development studio (Infinity Ward) that actually created the IP and already knew what you were making.

    - Employee reviews don't seem to have thoughtful preparation behind them; supervisors have a template piece of paper that rates you on a scale of 1 to 5 on what you did right and wrong. You can inquire into what the scores mean, but generally there is a generic legend (or sometimes they write it in) which gives advice you could have found on Google. The performance reviews show no concern for you, as a person, nor a deep appreciation for what you've done for the company. This may be due to lack of promotions and trust in the hierarchy, so one supervisor may have 20 people report to him -- I imagine being busy yourself at that level doesn't allow time to really foster a meaningful relation with all 20 people.

    - If you want to work late (and are hourly) to make sure what you're working on is polished and something that you can be proud of, you'll get reprimanded and put in a meeting with HR and / or your supervisor. Then starts the interrogation on why you stood late, who did you ask, was it necessary to get overtime, did you get approval, was there a producer there to hold your hand, etc... At the end of the 8 hour day, even if you know you have some more in you and you really care about what you're working on, you're forced to walk away because ~$21 for the extra hour is too much for the company. This circles back to the HR trust issue and supervisors not in your corner.

    - Tool changes are nebulous, most of the time engineers fix things that aren't broken with design tools making things difficult or prolonging iteration time all just to please a single person in upper management.

    Advice to Senior Management- Please, stop hiring so many producers and associate producers, seriously. Give some breathing room and instill trust in your developers to hold them accountable because a lot of them are talented enough to be self sustaining, they're grown men and women who have worked on several games already.

    - Just be honest with departments when they don't have a voice or when work gets cut, it's better to be forthcoming than try to avoid demoralizing them when the real harm being done is a noticeable smoke and mirrors.

    - Organize studio outings like paintball or go karts, and events that include family like a Santa Monica beach BBQ or a cruise off the coast. The Halloween and Easter events at work are appreciated but it's kind of sad that kids have to come to work to see mommy and daddy, put a better emphasis on family than just the convenience of already having people at work in which family can visit like it's a prison.

    - Encourage, or at least facilitate, people doing development in their free time or trying something new to add value to the product. Let people work reasonably late too if they like instead of making them feel stupid for being hungry to do more for the studio.

    - Encourage inspiration from limitations instead of enforcing rigid and repressive controls over developers. Let the developers challenge you, and inspire them in return.

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    4 people found this helpful  

    Your job is your reward.

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)
    Santa Monica, CA

    Pros- Work on AAA titles
    - Looks good on your resume
    - Outstanding production support
    - High end technologies, game engines
    - I've worked, went to war with and bled alongside great people whom I can call my friends
    - Free breakfast bagels
    - In-N-Out Burger truck

    Cons- Very political, management can be very egotistical, losing sight of the big picture
    - You will be tested severely, is this what you really want as a career?
    - Its best to work here if you're single, under 24 yrs and have no life outside of the office and the video game you're working on
    - If you meet the previous criteria, you'll be "on call" constantly during production
    - Long 12+ hr days, crunch times ARE certain, though they deny it at the initial interview
    - Hard earned bonuses can be taken away without a reasonable cause
    - Your job is not guaranteed after game production cycle finishes, you will need to re-interview with another team to keep your job
    - Pay is lower than most other game companies, expect a paycut

    Advice to Senior Management- Respect tenure and professional wisdom, don't burn your people, treat your team as the cornerstones to your success not dispensable/replaceable assets, the people you see on the way up are the same people you'll see on the way down, professional karma is alive and well, the video game business is a very small and tightly knit community - if you burn people, your rep will determine the lifespan of your career, Costco/Walmart are always hiring.

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

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    3 people found this helpful  

    went in excited, came out exhausted

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)
    Santa Monica, CA

    ProsGet to work on a high profile game

    Consmicro manage, bad management(mostly), politics, a lot of overtime

    Advice to Senior ManagementFunny...because you'd have to fire yourself. Stop taking credit for everything good that happens and pointing fingers for your mistakes.

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

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    Amazing.

    Game Designer (Former Employee)
    Santa Monica, CA

    ProsGreat Games that I have seen.

    ConsA lot of work which was a pain.

    Advice to Senior ManagementStay the same, very friendly.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    Not bad

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsGet to work on call of duty

    ConsGet to work long hours

    Advice to Senior ManagementBetter communication

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    Great resume and salary builder, but will ruin your personal life and well being if you stay too long.

    Lead Artist (Former Employee)
    Santa Monica, CA

    ProsThe pay is great, Santa Monica is a great location, Hi grossing AAA product. Has a very talented staff.

    ConsVery Political work environment, work ridiculously long hours is just expected, even if you have nothing to do, they want you in just because others are coming in. Did I mention that it is very political. Favoritism runs rampant.

    Advice to Senior ManagementPlan better and save money and your teams well being by not having to redo work over and over again. Take a look at who is running the company below CEO level and vet everyone, because if you weren't handed such a massive IP, I doubt they would be as successful as they are.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    3 people found this helpful  

    Free Dinners - 'Cause you'll be crunching

    Engineer (Current Employee)
    Santa Monica, CA

    ProsAAA Game known by all
    Generally talented employees wanting to make great games
    Project bonuses for those that give up their lives

    ConsCulture of fear, power consolidation, and extreme crunch
    Production driven, very little opportunity for innovation
    Stagnant vision from creatives - too scared of upsetting ATVI

    Advice to Senior ManagementTreat your employees with openness and respect. Rampant turnover will continue stifling quality and creativity as long as the crunch culture is in effect.

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

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