ArenaNet Reviews | Glassdoor

ArenaNet Reviews

Updated April 19, 2017
76 reviews

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3.4
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ArenaNet Co-Founder & President Mike O'Brien
Mike O'Brien
51 Ratings

76 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Work-life balance (even in crunch times) (in 24 reviews)

  • The usual game company amenities such as free snacks, beverages, gym (in 11 reviews)

Cons
  • Upper management is run by Yes men (in 14 reviews)

  • The pay low compared to industry average (in 4 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Amazing studio, but some organizational struggles"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Lead Programmer in Bellevue, WA
    Current Employee - Lead Programmer in Bellevue, WA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Art, programming teams are among the best in the business

    Cons

    Management has a hard time focusing, and it can be hard to get resources/attention for worthwhile projects.

    Advice to Management

    Focus more, and trust the folks doing the work. Not everything needs to be micro-managed, that's why you hire adults.


  2. "Excellent benefits, mediocre compensation."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Game Designer in Bellevue, WA
    Current Employee - Game Designer in Bellevue, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    They really care about their employees. They truly want you to love working there and be happy. All roles are very stable(AFAIK there's never been any layoffs in 10+ years). Culture is friendly and supportive.

    Cons

    Compensation is mediocre, especially for designers and artists. Benefits are excellent, but salaries leave much to be desired.

    Company seems, in some ways, stagnant. Financially they're stable, but the chance to work on exciting new stuff is limited.

    Advice to Management

    The best work we've put out has come from driven individuals trying to surpass expectations. Focus more on cultivating a work environment which encourages people to try new things, and make sure they have access to the resources to let them do that. Frequently stuff is too compartmentalized with top-down directives limiting what people can attempt.

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Great please to work at and grow"

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

    Pros

    Super chill place to work at and I haven't met a person that wasn't friendly

    Free snakes and drinks, lunch orders are cheap too (no tax or tip) lol

    Free ArenaNet classes for everyone ranging from management, life drawing to learn new tools

    Weekly team meetings and monthly ArenaNet meetings are always a Big Plus!

    Cons

    Relocating people's desk isn't that big of an issue like most people make it out to be.

    The art team could use better hardware.


  4. Helpful (12)

    "So Damn Close to a Dream Job."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bellevue, WA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bellevue, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time

    Pros

    Work/Life balance is the big winner at ANet. I have plenty of time to spend with friends, family, hobbies, or other ventures without any need to use PTO to fit these into my life. My schedule is my own and I'm trusted to get my work done - no micro-managing of hours has ever taken place for myself nor anyone that I work closely with. All hands are required to work 'core hours' from 10a to 4p and can allocate the rest of their hours as they see fit (start early - leave early or start late - leave late). This is immensely helpful when dealing with Seattle's horrendous traffic.

    Other pluses are pretty standard for the industry. Relaxed workplace and culture leads to allowing people be who they are. You can work in jeans, shorts, or a suit. It's up to you. Pants are required; blue hair is optional.

    Kids are often seen in the company game room; along with the guys practicing for a Street Fighter tourney or a great round of MTG following each new release.

    Benefits are top notch with two buy in levels available to match your needs (I've seen very few packages this good).

    Teams within ArenaNet are generally very close-knit and are very quick to protect and guide other members of their team.

    Cons

    Pay at ANet is one of the biggest challenges. Seattle/Bellevue are quickly becoming one of the most expensive places to buy and rent. A 3 bed single-family home within the county averages $2400 month and most require 3x monthly salary for approval. Rents drop to a more reasonable $1500 to $1900 in Pierce county; but carries with it 3 hours of commuting round-trip. You should very carefully plan your budget before accepting a position with ANet as the salaries are considered low for the industry; and in my experience very low for the area. Considering the increased cost of living for the Greater Seattle area and ArenaNet paying similar salaries as those found in lesser developed regions; some have found themselves taking a financial loss when accepting a position.

    Applicants that are single with no pets find living arrangements much easier as room-for-rent listings are abundant in the area. These rooms range wildly from $600 to $1600 per month.

    Another challenge facing employees is a lack of growth potential coupled with a marked absence of performance improvement; performance reviews; and opportunity to practice higher-management skills. Entry level managers generally stay entry-level; and so goes the same for all levels.

    I've talked to many people after they've given notice to term employment (dozens) who have all cited pay and lack of growth potential as reasons for leaving. Many of those same people also cite poor management - both in company direction (i.e. strategy, use of funds, goals) and in team and people management.

    Advice to Management

    Spin up a team to work on people development. This is a gaping hole within ArenaNet. There is untapped talent in the ranks and extreme talent leaving for larger studios. Keeping them should be a priority in order to support the companies' current goals. Losing talent when there are seats to fill is counter productive and costly.

    Consider leadership roles for the company and keep them free of tasks. Leaders are needed to motivate and inspire and my teams could only think of 3 people doing this - and 2 of them aren't in leadership positions.

    Remember; leaders aren't necessarily managers and managers aren't necessarily leaders. Keep the two separate if needed.


  5. Helpful (10)

    "Massive Potential Talents Wasted by Management "Yes" Men"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bellevue, WA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bellevue, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time

    Pros

    ArenaNet has some of the best and most creative people that put in a maximum amount of effort. The collaborative effort that exists in tackling issues and problems is next to none.

    Like any game company, times can get rough around crunch time, ArenaNet is no different. However during all other times ArenaNet has the most flexible stance when it comes to your schedule. Work/Live balance (while not on a release deadline) can be fantastic.

    Perks are slightly sub par for the area, however candidates looking to move to the area from other areas may find that they are very below what other companies may offer in other parts of the country.

    The ArenaNet brand is strong, as not many can say that we still run a successful MMORPG.

    Cons

    Advancing at ArenaNet is mostly done through feudal succession. There is no vertical mobility, performance reviews are heavily ignored, and almost no room for expansion as the company refused to expand for years.

    While the company has refused to expand, it has also refused to replace lost talent, opting to rely on current staff to pick up the extra work. Some teams can accommodate it, some can not, and it becomes apparent in the quality of the product.

    Normally this is where management would come in, unfortunately this is where ArenaNet has it's largest problem. Normal and Senior Level management seems to be constantly in a battle between each other on which one can make their team make them look better at the expense of their own team's longevity. This causes burnout and mistrust which has lead to a revolving door of talent.

    Some very long term employees and upper management seem to be kept around regardless of their performance or usefulness while their rule is law. Firing of employees based on performance is very rare, and normally only occurs when you have upset one of these people.

    Advice to Management

    You have great talent being stifled and suffocated by current management that is lacking in non personal growth vision. Most teams are saying one thing, while their managers are reporting another to leadership. Trust has been lost over the last few years because a few key individuals are trying to pull the wheel in the opposite direction of company success.

    Hold on to your talent, be competitive with your salaries and bonuses. ArenaNet refuses to counter offer, this needs to change. Step up, take action, and make it visible.

    It's a leader's job to say no when they feel it's the right decision and will hurt their team. Too many are currently saying yes to everything and the cost should be apparent.


  6. Helpful (5)

    "Filled with "Yes" Men"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bellevue, WA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bellevue, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    There are some passionate people here, and some truly great people. Few of them are also good at their jobs as well as being passionate and great, but you can make some awesome friends.

    Work life balance is great for almost everyone with studio hours, just do your 8 hours and be in the office between 10-4... except for the large group of people that only come in from 10-4 and take a 2 hour lunch.

    Cons

    Upper management is run by Yes men. Deadlines don't mean anything, good for you if you're always late because you won't get any adverse action taken or be fired. Bad because the game has slid in quality and stability. Every team has a different process, making it hard to move between teams or to figure out what is going on with the entire project. There is a lot of blame slinging and service teams such as marketing, QA, and CS get all of the blame.

    CEO is a great person but is either in over his head or just doesn't care to hear anything that isn't positive. QA was cut by over 75% and designers were told to test their own content. Scapegoating is rampant and you're constantly told to shut up. Amazing people leave because there is no growth, 2-4 people weekly since before expansion launch.

    Some bad eggs are kicked out but if you can be enough of a "Yes Man" you can rise up and be given a lot of leadership.

    Pay is a joke compared to the area and the industry. Part of the local industry chat is that you're expected to do twice as much for half the pay. Management tells you to factor your profit sharing into your salary, but it is at least 3 years before you're eligible for a payout and then when you can't pay your bills management tells you not to expect to get profit sharing payouts.

    Advice to Management

    Deal with reality and get rid of your yes men before your company goes under. Maybe it won't be too late. Solve the core development problems instead of just getting rid of the problems it creates at the end by cutting corners.


  7. Helpful (10)

    "Nice studio and improving"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    * Excellent tech and decent tools
    * Very enthusiastic, smart and knowledgeable team
    * Emphasis on sane work-life balance
    * Projects reflect forward thinking in design and planning
    * Highly collaborative environment
    * Strong business analytics support
    * Nice office with good road access
    * Reasonable core hours with flexible work schedules
    * Good communication channels available with fans

    Cons

    * Large spread out team can lead offers communication challenges
    * A bit green in some departments - can lead to scheduling concerns etc
    * Few local lunch options but food trucks and lunch orders (with two options) are a thin
    * Task tracking software is awful but may soon see an upgrade
    * Proprietary toolset is ok but not great
    * Local jargon is a bit odd and not aligned with industry standards

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Good place to work at."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    The company overall is solid. There's plenty of smart intelligent people to mingle with. The art teams are some of the best in the industry.

    Cons

    The pay is fair, in order to rise to the top you have to stand out from everyone else on your team. Most of the snacks are unhealthy, Not enough sick days, Most of the artist are lazy when it comes to personal work.


  9. Helpful (14)

    "A fading star"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Bellevue, WA
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Bellevue, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Amazing high quality tech and people. You generally leave every day smarter than when you came in. Compensation isnt the top or bottom of the scale - its fair.

    Cons

    Management is making an escalating series of bad decisions which is straining the morale of the company and compromising prospects for the future.

    Advice to Management

    Reputation doesnt build your future - people do. Get the right ones and keep them. If that isn't happening then the status quo is not okay and must change


  10. Helpful (3)

    "Great place to experience gaming"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bellevue, WA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bellevue, WA

    Pros

    The company has a cool vibe and energy. It has a great environment. Friendly and committed people. Lots of support from the HR team. Love the onboarding experience, New Hire Friday coffee, mentorship, daily opportunity to play the game, etc. So far so good.

    Cons

    LOTS going on every week. Sometimes it hard to know what is going on. Office layout can be a little confusing when trying to find a colleague. Still too new to evaluate adequately.


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