Voltage Entertainment USA

www.voltage-ent.com
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Voltage Entertainment USA Reviews

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  1. Long hours, but I enjoy working here!

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

    I have been working at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    My team is small and we all get along really well. If I ever have a question or a problem, someone is there to support me help me work through it.
    Every member of my team is in charge of several apps and we are each responsible for every step of the localization process with the apps we are in charge of. That means my responsibilities include many things from editing, debugging, designing, releasing apps, etc. so I’m never bored and I am allowed to make many decisions on my own.
    I get to use a lot of my Japanese language skills and play the apps.
    Our office is in downtown San Francisco!

    Cons

    Our team has late hours due to meetings with Japan and our workload.
    Sometimes there are time-difference/language/communication barriers that can get frustrating – but for the most part everyone tries to be understanding. I’m used to a Japanese working environment, but this might be hard for someone who is not.
    Our team and the US Originals team don’t interact as much as we should.

    Advice to Management

    More communication.


  2. Helpful (5)

    Avoid this company; it is on an inevitable road to failure

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

    I worked at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time (Less than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    - Laid back atmosphere
    - Lots of exposure to Japanese culture, if that's your jam
    - It's a very small team, so you'll have a lot of input into the project
    - 100% health care coverage with no co-pays (only 50% spouse, though)
    - Despite all of the cons you will read below, I want to stress that most of the people that work here are good people; it's just an extremely dysfunctional company

    Cons

    - The founders (CEO and COO) are convinced that the formula for developing successful otome titles in Japan in the early aughts will work in the US with minor tweaks. Their first successes were on feature phones and early smart phones in a completely different culture and market, so this isn't very likely. They have tried almost a dozen titles without turning a profit but just keep plugging away with the same stale strategies.

    - The founders are checked out; they come in Tuesday-Thursday from 9-2. Rumor has it they are going to hire a Japanese GM and check out completely. Currently you can at least influence things by talking to them directly, if you can manage to get their attention for 5 minutes. After they are gone, this won't even be an option.

    - You have to punch in and out on a time clock like a factory worker!

    - Most employees are non-exempt, meaning you are an hourly worker! An exception has been made for new engineering hires at the SE level and above. Junior SEs are still hourly, however. Moreover, rather than paying a higher rate for being hourly, as is the norm in the rest of the industry, they pay substantially less. Except the native Japanese employees, who of course all get a nice fat salary.

    - If you aren't native Japanese, even if you speak the language fluently, there are major communication issues.

    - IP security is a joke; network security is a joke.

    - There is no IT staff onsite!!! Employees bug engineers for IT requests, who don't have time to fulfill them, and moreover the Japanese employees don't trust Americans, so the engineers don't even have access to critical systems like the DNS server, active directory server or firewall. The people they put in charge of IT are administrators with literally no qualifications for this responsibility, like HR managers (!), the financial officer (!!), and senior producers (!!!).

    - Despite the horrible security and lack of IT, they don't trust their employees so most people can't even install software on their computers; they disable all USB ports on PCs, so despite this being a mobile game company, you can't charge mobile devices or transfer data to them via your PC!!! Moreover, they block gmail (even though they use gmail accounts for internal accounts) for most, but not all employees. Producers, for example, are exempt for some reason. What's more, all of these kooky rules are completely inconsistent; everyone has a totally different set of permissions on their machine. It seems like there is no consistent installation image. They use a third-party Japanese-language IT contractor to set up people's machines.

    - Despite supposedly being concerned about security, they regularly use Skype, which has infected numerous laptops and PCs, and apparently the wifi router, with malware that creates MAC-address clones of MacOS, Windows, iOS and Android devices connected to the router. They refuse to stop using it despite numerous warnings from Engineering and at least one laptop's adapter settings being corrupted so badly that it no longer has a valid MAC address.

    - Because most employees are paid so little, no one wants to go anywhere decent to eat, despite the amazing food all around the location of the office.

    - Because of the hourly pay structure, most people put in the least amount of effort possible and clock out promptly at 6, leaving necessary work undone. Then a handful of schemers stretch out their time to rake in overtime. A handful of people actually work legitimate overtime.

    - Meetings are regularly scheduled during lunch hours, which for some reason aren't typically until 1:30-2! So you may end up eating lunch at 3 some days.

    - The production team isn't very effective. I can't go into detail without violating Glassdoor's review guidelines.

    - The company is incredibly cheap. They outsource even the core artifacts of the their product - art and writing - to cheap student contractors, resulting in extremely poor quality and product delays. This also means they hire inexperienced workers. Again I can't go into detail due to Glassdoor's stringent guidelines.

    - Most of the company has no clue about how game development works. As a result, some employees have on a particular teams have to constantly * teach * other departments how to do things, all the while trying to translate it into the Japanese language and culture and the unique business customs of this weird little company. The communication is not usually very effective, so it's like pulling teeth.

    - The company is leashed to a parent company in Japan from which the founders made their millions; it has about 700-800 employees, I believe. Unfortunately, the parent company looks down their noses at the US office and is the opposite of helpful in all dealings; the founders themselves even acknowledge as much. They also have a ridiculously incompetent engineering team (in Ebisu) that doesn't seem to understand how to make a modern mobile game. The US engineering team had to build everything from scratch because the tech stack was so outdated; had to fight to get keys to the server room to manage and install additional, development server infrastructure; struggle to make the case for dedicated bare-metal hosting in NA instead of Japan; explain TDD; explain continuous integration and continuous deployment, et cetera, et cetera... there are too many engineering snafus from Japan to list.

    - The company has no idea about the Silicon Valley engineering market or how to hire and retain engineers.

    There are actually many more cons that I could list here, but I've already written a book. Bottom line: stay away, no matter how desperate you are for a job. This company is doomed.

    Advice to Management

    Shut down everything but the localization team and throw in the towel; quit while you're ahead.


  3. Helpful (1)

    Multi-Cultural Office with Awesome People

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

    I have been working at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    -Co-workers are great!
    -Compensation is fair and equal
    -Time-off, Medical/Dental insurance, Overtime pay is good
    -Chance to learn a variety of skills, and wear a variety of hats

    Cons

    -Work-life balance needs improvement, frequent overtime, late hours
    -Sometimes it feels like you are asked to wear too many hats to excel at any
    -Sitting, all day, in front of a screen

    Advice to Management

    -Work hours could be reworked so that needing to work late for overseas communication would be balanced by later mornings.


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  5. Helpful (1)

    Getting better!!!! 3.3 stars.

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

    I have been working at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time

    Recommends
    Recommends

    Pros

    Monthly or bi-monthly lunch, holiday parties, launch lunches (sometimes) with fully paid transportation. Pretty good healthcare, and PTO. Great coworkers.

    There is a much friendlier atmosphere than when I first came here. The people who were not able to overcome the differences between the US and Japan are now almost all gone from our side. Yes, since the other reviews, we have a good time while being productive. Or try to be productive that is.

    Now we have locally hired engineers, another awesome game artist, and marketing too! I see there is an effort to make better titles that does not stick to the strict guidelines of the parent company in Japan. I think the COO is now more open to suggestions, which made the new hires possible. It might be from being cornered with the lack of success with the Japanese management and game style, but great either way.

    US producers are hard working and super, and they keep the cheer going for the rest of us.

    Cons

    It's like the COO is still a little less then half way in her bubble. I can tell she really cares and does her best for us, but I think there are good days and bad. Not sure what the CEO does, as he is frequently out of the office. They both still stick a lot to Japanese strategies, but it may be because it is the only thing they know? They are learning, but sometimes it feels like we still produce cassette tapes in this age of iPods.

    People are sent in from Japan as advisors and producers. Instead of admitting they do not know what they are doing, they try to act superior instead of working with us. They show no leadership, drive or direction and are creepy quiet tapping on their PCs most of the time. Not rarely, but they talk Japanese and diss the US hires.

    On the US side, there are still some vocal individuals that keep bringing back really old things again and again and again that was either Japan's mistake or changes they did not like themselves personally. It makes me feel nervous and negative and I keep praying HR will step up because it's annoying and counter productive.

    The best producer we have is misplaced in another department that does not deal with the big picture of the company in the US. I feel many of us think that he can really fix things.

    Advice to Management

    ☆Get the producer back!!

    ☆Improvements take so long.

    ☆Unnecessary meetings. It's a medium office, why do two long monthly meetings with similar subjects?

    ☆More quality hires. There are some who do way more than others. Why keep slackers that go home while OT for others?

    ☆Try new things. Don't discuss it for months and decide to do things when it's too late?

    ☆Stop the Japanese only closed door meetings. I understand if absolutely necessary.

    ☆Communicate better. Some things are decided on above meetings, and they assume we know resulting in last minute panic changes.


  6. Helpful (1)

    Toxic

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

    I worked at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time (Less than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    Working hours are strictly 9 to 6, no more and no less. However...

    Cons

    ...management and HR put up quite a fuss if/when you need to work overtime, even if it's to meet an unreasonable deadline that they set and refuse to push back.

    More pressing issues:

    • The general disposition of the company and its lack of respect and trust for its employees. Senior management can often be observed staring off into space, rolling their eyes, mumbling under their breath in Japanese, or outright laughing in people's faces when being spoken to — even in formal meetings.

    • Unresponsive, at times combative, HR. For example, when certain concerns about payroll were brought to their attention, HR said they knew the company practices were illegal, but they would continue with the practices per the CEO.

    • Hostile work environment, including but not limited to gender and ethnic discrimination and harassment, that pits coworkers against one another and breeds distrust. Most disturbingly, management and HR have been implicit in many of these indiscretions.

    • Unethical conduct and management-subordinate relationships, leading to overall morale-lowering perceptions of favoritism. Again, management and HR were aware / implicit.

    • Failure to acknowledge the obvious differences between business in Japan and business in the States. The company further insulates itself by only consulting with Japanese companies (from ad agencies to law firms to IT).

    • Outdated technology. Zero awareness of best practices and proper documentation in all departments.

    • Endless contradictory practices: Voltage opened an American office and presumably hired Americans for our perspective and expertise concerning breaking into the American market — but completely ignores any input from us, even as our products fail miserably. We are told flat-out that our "opinions don't matter" — yet we are pulled into countless meetings in which we are directed to present... our opinions on how to improve the company and products. The CEO has final say over ALL decisions (even the most trivial) — but we are blamed for the failures that are a direct result of his decisions. Productive employees who care enough to point out issues and suggest solutions are reprimanded for being "negative" — while those who sit back quietly collecting a paycheck are rewarded with light workloads and lax deadlines.

    Advice to Management

    To paraphrase another review — the only people okay with working at Voltage are the people who aren't actually working. They're pushing work off onto others and collecting a paycheck.


  7. To be completely honest...

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

    I worked at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time (Less than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    Transportation compensation.
    People are nice, on an individual basis.

    Cons

    The people in this office are completely uncooperative. Most of them have never had a real job or worked in the game industry, therefore, all the horn tooting about so-called "expertise" are hyperbolic at best. The toxic atmosphere is intensified because those with the bad attitudes tend to influence one another and exponentially exacerbate the discontent felt throughout the office.
    Upper management, AKA, CEO and COO really do have micro-management issues. They really don't have any idea why the company is doing so poorly because they do not take time to investigate the foundation of the problem (lack of research, lack of quality hires, lack of leadership, etc etc.) However, they are not the only problem.
    Hiring process needs to be re-evaluated because they keep hiring problematic workers. Their unwillingness to fire people who contribute to the unhealthy environment only highlights the difference in culture between Japan and America.
    Jobs need to be more clearly defined. I understand being a start up that people are expected to do a little bit of everything, but the imbalance of work between people in the company is ridiculous.

    Advice to Management

    Re-evaluate hiring process.
    Invest in quality employees.
    Invest in quality products over quantity of products.
    Too many pointless meetings that go nowhere.
    Please send someone who understands the nuance of the English language as a middle-manager, the current middle-managers do not understand how local employees mock them on a daily basis. It's honestly depressing to witness the abuse they go through sometimes.


  8. Helpful (1)

    Other reviews are mostly accurate

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

    I worked at Voltage Entertainment USA

    Pros

    -Regarding the commuter allowance, they follow the commuter benefits law so they cover the cost of a BART/Muni pass or partial Caltrain cost.
    -The work/life balance is good with 8 hours + unpaid lunch, no more and no less.
    -At the start of the company, the employees were all pleasant, cheerful, & looking forward to creating a fun product with one another. I look forward to keeping in touch with most of them.

    Cons

    -No salary, it's an hourly job w/time cards and no flex time with excessive wage disparity between men and women for the same job.
    -Most management doesn't have any experience in mobile or software development which led to a wide array of problems.
    -The CEO seemed to want to use the Kaizen method of business, but no changes can be made to the work process above the middle managers. Everyone below management was blamed and held responsible for failures that had no connection to their work product and everything to do with pipeline problems that management has no interest in correcting.
    -No research or planning on how to enter an American market with a Japanese product & no action put forth to isolate a target audience.
    -The company doesn't learn from past mistakes, only repeats them over and over.
    -HR is hostile.
    -There's no disciplinary system.
    -When people quit there is no plan in place to hand off work materials, so it's up to each individual employee to hand off their work (if they choose to). This leave less people to do the same amount of work, sometimes without access to the needed files.
    -There were ongoing labor violations during my time there that management was reluctant or unwilling to correct.

    Advice to Management

    The only people truly happy at your company are the people who have no work ethic and know they can hand their work off to others and still get paid.


  9. Helpful (4)

    Unfortunate

    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    There are some great people who are very intelligent and great to work with. You can also really hear their enthusiasm and desire to make a successful product.
    There's more than I expected personal vacation, but very few company holidays.

    Cons

    It is evident that there was very little to no preparation done prior to the opening of this office as well as the industry and technology here in the U.S. There’s also a plethora of disorganized and inefficient practices from the HQ office being imported that do not translate well, on top of an apparent unwillingness to listen to the experienced and knowledgeable locally hired staff. Some kind of middle ground needs to be met. All of this is complicated by a lack of communication and information sharing both internally and between the San Francisco office and the Japan HQ office. Additionally there is a real lack in experienced HR support to properly handle challenges that arise and support employee as necessary. There is a general mistrust throughout the office, and HR has not shown an ability to take an unbiased stance, instead they can be defensive and/or accusatory.

    Advice to Management

    Be more open to suggestions and listen to the various voices of the team more.
    Also remember that these are teams! It is vital to share information and communicate.
    Please remember that there are a lot of culturally specific influences that affect almost every step of the production process as well as the content, so trust those around you.


  10. Helpful (3)

    Unhealthy Working Environment

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

    I worked at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    None, except for some talented individuals in the company who tried their best to make the place successful.

    Cons

    - Lack of technical knowledge and refusal to adapt to the latest technology.
    - Refusal to adapt to the American market even though that was their goal. No market research and they don't know who are their target audience.
    - No proper HR to handle some office disagreements and they get very defensive when issues were brought up to their attentions. HR also blatantly talked down on, mocking, and laughing at people (sometimes in front of the person) in Japanese forgetting that some of us actually understand the language.
    - There was no team spirit. Everyone was set up to go against each other.
    - No clear job descriptions and hierarchy. There was a lot of confusion on who should be reporting directly to whom.

    Advice to Management

    Try to be more open minded to suggestions and advices. Be more updated with the recent technology and current industry. Learn how to manage your employee better


  11. Helpful (1)

    untrusting

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

    I have been working at Voltage Entertainment USA

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    PTO and transportation fee are provided

    Cons

    the senior managers, don't have a background in mobile and as a result, the people with actual experience have to fix their problems for them.

    Advice to Management

    Stop pushing work onto us just because you don't feel like doing it-- it's extremely unprofessional. when the senior managers can't answer a question, they will disregard the email and not respond and blame others for their failures.

    HR are unable to do their jobs. they don't realize that their job depends on our success. if they do not help us succeed, they will be out of a job once the company fails.

    the tools to succeed are right in front you. do the needful and allow us to succeed.



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