Big Fish Games Reviews | Glassdoor

Big Fish Games Reviews

Updated March 20, 2017
128 reviews

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3.5
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Big Fish Games President & CEO Paul Thelen
Paul Thelen
75 Ratings

128 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • There is an excellent work life balance (in 19 reviews)

  • Cool space/open work environment (in 15 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. "fish bowl fun"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Big Fish Games full-time

    Pros

    fun work environment. people there can be one of the best reasons to continue working there. definitely positive work vibe.

    Cons

    low pay, often meet people with poor work ethic or professional manner.


  2. Helpful (2)

    "A great place... if you're ready to settle"

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

    I worked at Big Fish Games full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Work/life balance is excellent. Rarely is there a need to stay late or work on a weekend. Plenty of time during the working day to chat with others, mess around, etc. "Deadlines" routinely slip with little to no consequence. Projects are spun up and then abandoned. So, no need to over-exert yourself.

    A good amount of upward mobility. I saw a lot of coworkers start in Customer Support and ascend to roles all throughout the company. Big Fish definitely walks the walk on promoting from within.

    Great culture and excellent peers to work with. Big Fish employees are expressive and self-confident. They like to socialize, and there are plenty of opportunities to do so. It's a place where it's easy to form great friendships, and you show up excited to see the people you work with.

    Cons

    Senior leadership, with few exceptions, range from weak to actively destructive toward the company at this point. Many of these people started during the PC and Mac days when Big Fish's bread and butter were premium titles. I believe these leaders did a great job during that era, with that business model, but many have not made the transition well to the free-to-play gaming space. Unfortunately, due to nepotism or irrational loyalty most have not only stayed on but continued to be promoted. There is a trend of failing upwards, and despite widespread negative opinions at lower levels of the company these leaders appear very insulated and well-protected by the CEO. I believe the CEO prizes loyalty and the dependability of those he's known for a long time above a forward-thinking approach that would seek out new leaders that can effectively shepherd Big Fish toward the next stage of its development.

    Because Big Fish prizes work/life balance and a social culture above results, I wonder if they will have the killer instinct required to stay competitive in the free-to-play mobile space. Increasingly there are fewer and fewer big players in that industry, and the culture (noted above) of letting deadlines slip and abandoning projects wantonly because they were not well-defined to begin with creates an incredible amount of unnecessary churn. With the added scrutiny of a parent company now, the employees at lower levels of the company become the victims of this waste. Occasionally some are laid off as a belt-tightening exercise. Those that are retained see their efforts wasted on projects that were half-baked.

    Advice to Management

    I am conflicted about rating the CEO positively or negatively. I believe he understands the gaming industry incredibly well, has a very sharp mind, and cares deeply about the success of Big Fish. But as I noted previously, I believe he errs too much on the side of retaining leaders who have ceased to be effective, and is either actively ignoring feedback that suggests these leaders have become problematic, or has created a culture in which this feedback cannot reach him at all. If Big Fish is going to continue to be competitive in an industry where the profits are increasingly being consolidated by the top 4-5 players there is going to need to be some serious house-cleaning to bring in fresh talent that are energized and ready to meet those demands. Sadly, I don't see much likelihood of that at this company.


  3. "No strategic direction - avoid this place"

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

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

    Pros

    It's very tech-y, so benefits are good and atmosphere is relaxed. They have all the usual things to keep 20 somethings at their desk: M&Ms, video game rooms, stuff like that.

    Cons

    Be very careful with accepting a job offer from this place - I was directly lied to about my job responsibilities. I was hired for my area of expertise, and received the 'bait-and-switch' once I showed up. I was told that the group was switching focus for the role.... funny thing though is that was 1 week after I started.

    Advice to Management

    Middle management lacks any type of strategic focus.


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  5. Helpful (2)

    "A Unit with too many Captains"

    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

    Pros

    - Good life-work balance
    - Good benefits

    Cons

    - Low salary
    - Executive management is out of touch with the average employee
    - Too much corporate BS
    - Too many "chiefs" and not enough "indians"
    - Ideas and improvements are blocked off by inept middle management
    - No clear, but confusing career developement
    - Promotions rewarded inconsistently or not al all
    - "Cheap and Fast"-Thinking
    - Low salary [not competitive with market value]
    - "Love it or leave it" mentality

    Advice to Management

    N/A


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Producer"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Producer in Bothell, WA
    Former Employee - Producer in Bothell, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great benefits. Great location. Some studios and groups are growing and valuable.

    Cons

    Managers get promoted from within. They are often good at managing products but terrible at managing people.

    Advice to Management

    Audit your manager's ability to manage people vs. product.


  7. "Great place to work if you want to get your foot in the door"

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

    Pros

    Big fish games has a great and friendly work environment. It is very easy to get settled and comfortable there.

    Cons

    Pay is not nearly as competitive as many of the competitors out their. growth is possible but slow depending on who you know there.

    Advice to Management

    keep the good people, boost morale, talk to your people before they decide to take another offer and leave


  8. "Tactically smart, strategically minded"

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

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

    Pros

    Looks for long-term growth opportunities and invests behind them!

    Cons

    The lack of existing bureaucracy can lead to the organization being a bit tribal, but that is a necessary evil to prevent the lack of agility that too much management can cause.

    Advice to Management

    Look for in-house talent and cultivate it, but don't hesitate to bring in smart new blood from outside!


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Product Manager"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at Big Fish Games full-time

    Pros

    Good working environment and lots of talented people.

    Cons

    Leadership lacks long term commitment to projects and tends to make company wide shifts on a seeming whim.

    Advice to Management

    Pick a path, trust your team and deliver the results.


  10. Helpful (3)

    "Great company limited by old-school leadership"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Product Manager in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Senior Product Manager in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Big Fish Games full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    A great company to work for in terms of work-life balance. Dynamic environment where change is fast paced with lots of smart people doing the best they can. They consistently hire from within which is good for career growth but maybe not so good for long term viability in a changing marketplace.

    Cons

    There are a lot of people in upper management that were good for a small scrappy business like Big Fish was 6-8 years ago. Now, they are in a lot more complex environment and many of the leadership who were there for more than 6 or 8 years are out of their depth. They got to where they are because of longevity with the company, not because they are right for the job.

    Advice to Management

    Take a hard look at who is running things. The old ways are long gone and it takes a whole new skill set to survive in the environment you are in now. The shift in business priorities was the right thing to do but the old guard continues to keep you behind the market leaders.


  11. "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



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