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Carbine Studios Reviews

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2.8
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Carbine Studios Orange County Site Executive Chauncey Gammage
Chauncey Gammage
4 Ratings

32 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (2)

    "Carbine Review"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - QA Tester in Aliso Viejo, CA
    Former Employee - QA Tester in Aliso Viejo, CA
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    A great work environment with a great team.
    Great benefits package this may have changed since I left.
    Very friendly teams with great attitudes.

    Cons

    Internal politics may keep you from moving out of QA.
    Former HR lead was combative when faced with issues dealing with company politics.

    Advice to Management

    I wish I had advice for the management, but since I'm no longer there I wouldn't know where to begin.


  2. Helpful (3)

    "Fine studio, hard genre, broken industry"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Artist in Lake Forest, CA
    Former Employee - Artist in Lake Forest, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Carbine Studios full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great people, no insane pressure to put in long hours. Open to ideas and not stifling to creativity.

    Cons

    There was nowhere to go. There often isn't, in this industry. Veterans know this well. Wildstar had every chance to succeed. Everyone wants to blame someone or something: "the CEO!", "nobody listens!", "bad morale!". It was none of those things. At the end of the day the market just wasn't there.

    The fact is, it was a great team, and Chauncey (head honcho) did the best he could with a terrible situation. Many saw him as the "bad guy" because the first round of layoffs happened soon after he took over. Unfortunately, the numbers just didn't make sense. At the end of the day it's a business. Even a CEO with 100% approval cannot change the way math works.

    The MMO genre is very hard to build a sustainable product in, in 2016. Subscriptions are dead, production cycles are too long, and MTX is rarely enough to recoup the cost of a giant team for 5+ years. I simply think Wildstar was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The product, people, and execution was great. It's just too hard these days. But I understand people need to point fingers in order to cope with layoffs.

    I was not high up, for the record. I was quite low on the totem pole in fact. Survived the first round of layoffs and got hit by the second. Still unemployed. Sucks, but it's not Carbine's fault. They never wronged me or mistreated me. I will miss it dearly, and I wish Wildstar and Carbine's future ventures all the success possible.

    Advice to Management

    Keep the team small for now and look for new opportunities. Wildstar won't sustain forever and you need some new revenue streams.

  3. Helpful (3)

    "Future Uncertain"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Aliso Viejo, CA
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Aliso Viejo, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at Carbine Studios full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Good game
    Great talent
    Caring management
    Good community of developers
    Even in the layoffs they treated us well with severance packages. I'd work for them again.

    Cons

    There were layoffs recently so not as much of the "Pros" mentioned above, still some.
    Carbine may be a sinking ship at this point but they may yet turn things around. While the future may be uncertain right now, if things improve financially then I'd say go for it.

    Advice to Management

    I hope you can turn things around financially. Things were looking good for a while, a lot of good changes for the better happened. WildStar is a good game and you still have some good people. Take care of them and things might just turn out alright.


  4. Helpful (1)

    "Passion Driven"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Aliso Viejo, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Aliso Viejo, CA

    I worked at Carbine Studios full-time

    Pros

    -Talented team
    -The benefits
    -new building
    -relaxed attire
    -Vending machines with partially subsidized pricing
    -Good parking
    -Cafeteria
    -gym

    Cons

    No focus on team building.
    Little on the job training widening the range of abilities- employees learn this at home.

    Advice to Management

    Encourage some team building activities. A work force that pulls long hours is an extended family, treat it as such.


  5. Helpful (2)

    "It's a bad studio for design and engineering."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Aliso Viejo, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Aliso Viejo, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Carbine Studios full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    - Good benefits package is actually a thing.

    Engineering and Design are very talented departments, and are some of the best people in the industry. They worked so hard to try and improve the quality of WildStar, and often came up short due to the cons listed below.

    Cons

    - "WIldstar" is a bad game.
    - "Free snacks and soda" are gone.
    - "Free SWAG for all employees" is done.
    - "Food truck Wednesdays" is gone.
    - "Laid back environment" doesn't exist
    - "Open to employee suggestions" is a lie.
    - "Nice area" if you can afford it.

    A despotic tyrant controls the entire studio and it's alleged creative vision, ignoring all advice and suggestions. Headquarters is enamored with said tyrant, so executive management is somehow futile to stop him, if they even care (which they clearly don't). The game has been driven into the ground by a terrible studio structure ("a premier destination for artists") by people who don't understand how to make video games but retain control of it all anyway.

    Advice to Management

    Just shut the thing down please.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "AMAZING COMPANY"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - UI Team in Aliso Viejo, CA
    Current Employee - UI Team in Aliso Viejo, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Amazing Company, great benefits , nice people and excellent game overall.

    Cons

    Needs Bonus compensation and work compensation.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to do what you are doing, Studio should focus on new game franchises opportunities.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "Game Designer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Game Designer in Aliso Viejo, CA
    Former Employee - Game Designer in Aliso Viejo, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Carbine has a talented team of developers, with a good blend of both veteran and junior staff. The tools team has put together an extremely robust engine that is easy to learn, but has a rich feature set for making complex content. Focus has transitioned from just getting the game out the door by any means possible to changing the corporate culture and development practices into something that attracts more top talent in the industry. These are critical changes that probably should have happened earlier, but I'm optimistic that continuing on this path and leaving egos at the door will lead to good things in the company's future.

    Cons

    The studio has always been much more reactive than proactive when it comes to dealing with potential problems. Be prepared to fight fires that you or someone else may have started a while back. If you are up to that task, you can thrive at the studio.
    Benefits are not fantastic. A review of the 401k compensation should be a top priority for HR. Salaries were not competitive during my employment, but this has seen a drastic change for the better in recent months.

    Advice to Management

    Leadership should focus on high level goals, rather than minutiae. Delegating the problem solving to your staff, and regularly reviewing progress will net a much more richly rewarding environment for employees and less time for you in hours of meetings trying to shoulder the entire load.

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Game Designer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Content Designer in Aliso Viejo, CA
    Current Employee - Content Designer in Aliso Viejo, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

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

    Pros

    Competitive pay
    Bonuses
    Awesome healthcare package
    Internal Greenlight Process
    401K
    Feature ownership of the game
    Game design club
    Quarterly Parties
    Movie nights
    Additional PTO for cons

    Cons

    There were a bunch of issues before but the studio has made serious strides. Last year was tough but I feel like the studio has turned a corner and I'm honestly getting excited again for what the future holds.

    I do wish there was more WildStar SWAG though ;)

    Advice to Management

    Continue to do what you are doing. Before there was a lack of trust from both sides. Now you say something and you execute. That's all anyone wanted.

    You say you are doing a salary review and you did it (and made things right).
    You say that we're putting a content roadmap together and you did.
    You said you'd bonus and you did.
    You said that everyone has great ideas and then instituted a greenlight process so the team has ownership of all existing features of the game plus new ones. That was a big one.


  9. Helpful (3)

    "Hardwork and a holistic view of development will lead the company to success."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Aliso Viejo, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Aliso Viejo, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Carbine Studios full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Carbine houses some of the smartest and most talented developers working in games today. The passion and creativity is what keeps the studio breathing. The mix of our employees creates an incredibly fast-paced work environment that reminds me of a few start-ups I have worked with. Be prepared to wear many hats and if the initiatives you champion are successful, share their success with your fellow coworkers.

    Along this line, the studio has a cumulative wealth of experience that you will be challenged to learn from on a daily basis. I have never had such rapid learning and career growth as my time at Carbine and I am truly grateful for the opportunities that it afforded me. Akin to the concept mentioned earlier, be prepared to coach and teach as you learn and morph your ideas. There are many co-training opportunities at the studio and you can learn the nuances of all aspects of game development from Engineering, to Design, to Art, to QA.

    Company benefits were very competitive and as a family we were able to afford and safely provide for everyone. Along these lines, compensation is fairly average for the industry and the studio has been making a huge push to normalize and fix pay rates for employees to be comparable with changing industry trends. Our HR department is very active in pursuing these updates as well as overhauling yearly performance and merit based reviews.

    Carbine is on their way back to become a destination studio. After some bumps in the road, I am very confident that the team will be able to grow the studio and develop for many years to come.

    I will miss working with everyone and absolutely suggest that given the opportunity, people accept and offer to work here.

    Cons

    Compensation is average for industry and does not include equity, although the studio does have a profit sharing bonus structure. Furthermore, continued education funds are being slowly systemized at NCSoft and at the time of writing were very hard to justify and push through.

    Shifting gears to discuss corporate strategy, the company and NCWest as a whole, is still focusing very much on the short term and this is hurting us. We need to rectify our short term goals against our long term goals in order to realize and achieve success. Until we are able to do this, we will continue to run into unforeseen pitfalls and emergencies that arose from poor risk mitigation. Huge steps are being made in this regard and I'm excited for what the future holds.

    Advice to Management

    Invest in our employees continued education so that we can stay relevant in the market and continue to foster growth within the studio.

    Produce a one year, five year, and ten year product/initiative roadmap that can be communicated and actively tracked against by the organization so that we can measure success and adjust course as the market changes.

    Provide a holistic approach to development, publishing, and operations so that we eliminate barriers between NCSoft and Carbine. Our success is dependent upon each and every person that works in this organization and it's time that we embrace that.


  10. Helpful (12)

    "My time at Carbine"

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

    I worked at Carbine Studios full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Exciting atmosphere early on.
    Freedom to create.

    Cons

    Carbine's management seemed to be disconnected with their workforce.

    Advice to Management

    Everyone that is left is hurting now, and management should take steps to keep any talent that is left. Please be honest and forthcoming.


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