Big Fish Games Reviews in Oakland, CA | Glassdoor

Big Fish Games Oakland Reviews

9 reviews

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Oakland, CA

3.6
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Big Fish Games President & CEO Paul Thelen
Paul Thelen
6 Ratings

9 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • There is an excellent work life balance (in 20 reviews)

  • Big fish games has a great and friendly work environment (in 16 reviews)

Cons
  • Terrible middle managers in customer service department, lots of big fish/small pong tiny Napoleons (in 7 reviews)

  • Lot of people left company because of that (in 4 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Great Experience"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Product Manager in Oakland, CA
    Former Employee - Product Manager in Oakland, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Big Fish Games full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    The Oakland office is full of smart, hardworking, friendly people. While I have not worked at another gaming studio, from what I heard, this is likely one of the best options in the Bay Area. There is an excellent work life balance. Most people/teams are very approachable. There are clear studio goals and milestones. The office is sick and working in Oakland is excellent.

    Cons

    Not clear career development or trajectory. Can get stifling working *only* on Casino games.

    Advice to Management

    Provide tangible career development opportunities/paths


  2. Helpful (3)

    "QA tester at bigfish"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - QA Tester in Oakland, CA
    Former Employee - QA Tester in Oakland, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Easy going no crunch no overtime laid back masseuse on site

    Cons

    No sense of urgency. Horrible product. Poor location. Large turnaround

    Advice to Management

    Pay people what they are worth don't nickel and dime your employees


  3. Helpful (3)

    "Ok"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Oakland, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Oakland, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Big Fish Games full-time

    Pros

    Very kind people in general. Catered lunches. Nice looking office with a good view. Well supplied. That's about it.

    Cons

    Absolutely no upward mobility unless you've made the right friends. You're incentivized to do the bare minimum to get by.

    Advice to Management

    I have to pad this out but my advice to management is to give people a reason to care.


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  5. Helpful (10)

    "Fun office, good pay, and great mentors throughout the organization"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Production in Oakland, CA
    Former Employee - Production in Oakland, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Big Fish Games full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Salary levels are decent. Know the industry standard and negotiate this well upfront.

    Very knowledgeable senior staff that is aware of all issues and are trying to fix things, despite hands being tied due to regular corporate process stuff.

    They are finalizing the matrix defining how employees can get from one position to another. Should be rolled out in a couple months or sooner. Unfortunately it's a little too late for me but it's a very, very good step for all existing and new employees.

    Team rallies behind key metrics and are super focused on hitting KPIs

    Lots of fun in the office as long as you try it out. Need a break? Play ping pong or a game of pool. Or play video games! Want to get away from your desk, choose any of the 4?+ couches to get away from distractions. (CAVEAT: I only played one game of pool, but that's because I was kind of a work-a-holic). Many others took advantage of all these amenities.

    My favorite meeting of my week was my 30-minute massage in a legit massage room in the office.

    Great colleagues and excellent mentors if you know where to look. As with every company, there are people who tend to stick with their same worker-besties. If you put yourself out there, it's not hard to find a great group of people to hang out with at the office.

    Want to move to another group? Work with your manager, and they will find a way--hopefully (see Cons). I met multiple people who started in one position in the company and ended up in different roles as they progressed. To me, this says they really value most of their talent.

    Colleagues/mentors in Seattle were extremely helpful. I can't say enough great things about them. Game team members shared info as opposed to being super secretive as in another especially-antagonistic game company. One of the most helpful and reliable QA and Release/Operations teams I've worked with to date.

    Cons

    The Product role also has Producer responsibilities. This is necessary in a startup but not so much after two acquisitions. It reduces the amount of time available to focus on Product items and stunts growth as a Product Manager. Separate these responsibilities into two roles.

    I found the negativity (or lack of positivity) from some middle managers to be disappointing. The negativity breeds doubt, questions about one's value at the company and about the exec team or company itself. Some things should/should not be said around their teams or other teams! This doesn't mean they can't be transparent; it just means that they need to position the truth from a different angle (I.e. glass half full) and remember that some people are really impacted by negative rumors. I heard multiple rumors about my project that I knew were half truths, but it was still annoying to hear this from my peer, who should not have been spreading rumors without all the facts.

    Advice to Management

    Bring more folks from Oakland to Seattle or from Seattle to Oakland so that Oakland team members feel like they have a lot of support from the larger Big Fish org.

    Encourage employees to be proactive about what they want to learn. Don't be so concerned about backfilling roles where you won't help valuable employees grow into the roles they want.

    Find the poison in the well and neutralize it.


  6. Helpful (3)

    "Wouldn't think of leaving!"

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

    I have been working at Big Fish Games full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    - My commute is great! Far enough away that it allows me to play mobile games and keep up on podcasts during my commute. The office is also close enough to where I'm not spending so much time traveling. Conveniently located to public transportation.

    - Company stability and growth. I am confident in the direction Big Fish Games is moving and has seen a lot of positive changes and growth in the past few years.

    - I believe in our products! We have some fun 1st party games and partner with other developers on some cool stuff too. It's great being associated with a company that doesn't have a lot of bad press.

    - Recruiters were very easy to work with prior to getting hired. HR has been great to work with as an employee as well.

    - Staff is super talented across all departments.

    - Company rewards high performers very well. Quarterly reviews offer lots of opportunity to show your stuff. If you do great work, you will be recognized. If you just like to do enough to get by, then that's fine, but you can't expect people to constantly pat you on the back.

    - Great perks: free massages, billiards table, pool table, gaming area, amazing 360-view of downtown Oakland, cool interior decor, bi-monthly catered lunches, free beverages and snacks, family-friendly summer BBQ, special holiday party.

    - Work/Life balance, for sure.

    - Equipment/setup - pretty good at accommodating reasonable requests. Ergonomic desk, Mac/PC, office supplies, etc.

    Cons

    - Nothing to really complain about.

    Advice to Management

    - As long as the company can keep providing opportunities for growth/career development, and opportunities to work on new projects, I think employees would continue to enjoy working at Big Fish.


  7. Helpful (2)

    "Best first job ever"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Game Engineer I in Oakland, CA
    Former Employee - Game Engineer I in Oakland, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Great people, flexible hours, fun job, small teams. Lots of benefits, overall a great life experience.

    Cons

    Things seem to be changing since going public via being acquired. Not sure if it's good or bad.

    Advice to Management

    Find more mentors


  8. Helpful (17)

    "Comfortable enough culturally but a messy and stagnant operation"

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

    I have been working at Big Fish Games full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    * Great work-life balance. Overtime is rare and the pace of work is pretty much the same week in week out. People are generally treated like human beings.
    * The people you get to work with are mostly very nice. It’s fun to hang out together on breaks or work trips, play Smash Bros. and pool, try to come up with game ideas.
    * I can’t speak to others’ experience but I make fair money for what I do, on top of bonuses, options, and other stuff like occasional free trips.
    * The Oakland building is very nice and is stocked with your usual tech company array of drinks and treats. Free lunch every few weeks. Ergonomic everything. Good neighborhood with an ok amount of food options. Convenient commute options. The masseuse is great.
    * It’s fun working at a company people have heard of. I see people playing my game on transit, in the elevator, on TV.

    Cons

    * Company culture consists of 1) maximize revenue 2) don’t get sued. Everything we do is a means to one of these two values.
    * The studio leans heavily on a single product. We only get to work on one app, all day every day. Customers get squeezed constantly with sales and promotions in order to maintain record-breaking revenue. Other projects that don’t make the same ludicrous level of money get canned.
    * Development is orientated towards adding more and more and more new features to the flagship app to try and increase revenue. There’s little concern with maintaining existing features or dealing with known problems unless they seem to impact the bottom line.
    * Managers and HR are very cautious about dealing with employees who are angry or lazy; the preferred approach appears to be “do nothing and maybe they will calm down/get back to work/find another job”.
    * Project/Product management is very opaque, making it appear chaotic. Or maybe it is chaotic, it’s hard to say from outside of management. Some PMs demand constant reporting from teams without really explaining why it’s necessary. Some PMs let their feature team do whatever, or nothing, and then just let the whole project flop over the finish line weeks late.
    * Our development process is the wild wild west. Maybe some people can deal well with no code freezes, lots of frantic hotfixing, and development environments that don’t behave the same as the production environment, but I’m not a fan. Nothing particularly seems to happen to those who check in breaking changes all over other people’s work, so there’s no real incentive to play nice together.
    * There’s no mobility either within departments or between them. Solid employees who turn out good work get passed over because upper management haven’t heard of them or can’t imagine people in roles other than where they were hired.

    Advice to Management

    * Stop being wimps about employees. Hire only people everyone is actively excited to work with. Do not allow people who are underperforming or problematic to rot away in junior roles of their department hoping they will quit; manage them. That’s why you get paid to be MANAGERS.
    * Clear out some technical debt so that engineers can actually deal with each other’s code. Spend more than one week a year on polish. Let’s stop having to fix the same problems over and over.
    * Make a concerted effort to provide employees with a career path. Nobody here seems to be going anywhere.
    * Try to get and remain excited about something besides revenue. I am motivated to work on cool new features because they are fun and innovative, not because of the way they will drive D7 retention or increase our conversion rate.


  9. Helpful (7)

    "A selfish company for selfish employees (management)"

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

    I worked at Big Fish Games full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Eager to be friends with you and to show you how awesome their perks are--friendly coworkers. New office in Oakland has great amenities.

    Cons

    If you don't like to party hard and/or late, you quickly get on a list of people they will wait for to leave--as that is their culture. They rarely fire anyone, as they find it easier to manage by neglect. This affects the whole team and product as there are many people who are only there because they are pretty sure they won't get fired and it's easy to just sit around and wait it out if it does happen. Management at the Oakland office are all new to management and it shows when anything difficult arrises.

    Upper management often take credit for the hard work of others, promise and retract fair bonuses, and promote their friends.

    Advice to Management

    Hire someone who has experience to replace you and go back to your old position where you and everyone else will be happier.


  10. Helpful (3)

    "Review for Oakland, CA office (Self Aware Games)"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - UI Designer in Oakland, CA
    Current Employee - UI Designer in Oakland, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Big Fish Games full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    I can't speak for the Seattle location but here are my thoughts on the Oakland, CA office (Self Aware Games)-

    - Everyone is very intelligent, driven, and very good at what they do
    - A slew of wonderful perks and activities: offsite events, parties, physical therapist, kitchen
    - Versatility in projects (at least in the Art Dept.)...you get to work on what you are really interested in/want to get exposed to
    - GREAT work/life balance. It's a strong value here and that's very rare in gaming and tech
    - People here know how to work hard and have fun doing it...every day is a total joy!
    - Relaxed environment with very reasonable deadlines
    - Wonderful health benefits

    Cons

    - Pay can be lower than average (I took a large pay-cut from previous position but it's been 100% worth it)
    - A big disconnect from the Seattle office (our parent company Big Fish Games)

    Advice to Management

    - Put more focus on internal development of your people: offer external learning opportunities, unique challenges, and promote a stronger culture of open communication and feedback.


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