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Harmonix Music Systems Reviews

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3.5
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Alex Rigopulos
14 Ratings

37 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (3)

    "Fun and Exciting Place to Work"

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

    I have been working at Harmonix Music Systems full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Great Culture, Lots of projects happening. Minimal crunch, flexible hours.

    Cons

    Cool kids club still exist. Upper Management sometimes seem out of the loop and has unrealistic expectations. Little career upward mobility.

    Advice to Management

    Spend more time in the trenches to see what's happening. Go to post morts


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Not like it used to be."

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

    I worked at Harmonix Music Systems full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great benefits package. Fun games are made here.

    Cons

    Lots of cliques. Not much opportunity for growth. Due to the company restructure in 2014, department managers no longer exist and thus, mentors no longer exist. Company culture and values took a turn for the worse.

    Advice to Management

    Be more involved in your employees' goals and happiness.

  3. Helpful (2)

    "Creative, fun place to work that cares about its Employees"

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

    I worked at Harmonix Music Systems full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Harmonix has a lot of fun, creative energy - people are passionate about what they are doing, and love coming together to create great things. There really is a "friends and family" atmosphere to the company, and the company truly cares about the well-being of their employees, even regulating "crunch" periods so that there are plenty of breaks, weekends are preserved, and food is provided.

    Benefits package is fantastic - health (medical/dental) is fully covered, great matching 401k. PTO is standard, but you're able to take it (and encouraged to do so).

    Management is very involved, and founders of the company are very accessible to employees.

    All in all, this is one of the best places I've ever worked.

    Cons

    There are some major divides between groups in the company. Producers are very clique-ish and it can sometimes feel a little like high school. People in general are not good about giving direct feedback, resulting in a lot of gossip and thus some people spreading or listening too much to rumors. QA team is often not treated as true partners to their Dev teams, though that has VASTLY improved in the last few years. SCRUM is really still a very waterfall process with the dressings of Agile.

    Business model relies on obtaining contracts from Publishing Companies to make games; during lean years, this can have a significant drain on the company resources, resulting in lay-offs.

    Advice to Management

    Eliminate as best you can the cliquishness and rumor mill that can sometimes happen.
    Really implement SCRUM and Agile development practices.
    Cultivate the ability to publish games in-house so you aren't reliant on external contracts. Continue to develop great games, but consider new opportunities in mobile and PC/Steam.


  4. "Review"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Production/Project Management in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Production/Project Management in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Harmonix Music Systems (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Wonderful co-workers, products that you can be passionate about.

    Cons

    long hours for extended periods of time.


  5. "QA Team"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - QA Tester in Boston, MA
    Former Employee - QA Tester in Boston, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Like minded people, access to caffeine and snacks, ease of commute

    Cons

    Lack of mobility and elitist upper management.

    Advice to Management

    Don't hire contract employees


  6. Helpful (16)

    "Despite Rah-Rah culture, there are as many problems at Harmonix as any other white-male-centric tech workplace"

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

    I have been working at Harmonix Music Systems full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Fun environment, slightly more diverse than other game studios, great games are made here.

    Cons

    Minimal chance for growth once you get to a certain stage. It's very hard to penetrate the old guard, good ol' boys club mentality of upper management. Senior Sound designers are paid below industry average b/c they are "merely musicians." Nevermind that musical talent has kept HMX atop the music gaming field and that audio responsibilities have grown beyond simple midi authoring of Rock Band tracks. Another issue is the official Harmonix philosophy of racial and gender "inclusivity" which on the surface sounds great until you realize there is plenty of racism and sexism to be encountered here, with no way to redress it or hold offending parties responsible if they are too senior. B/c there is always the fear of another round of layoffs and a round of sweeping things under the carpet.

    Advice to Management

    Realize when your expertise is exhausted and ask for help. Give responsibility and creative direction to those who know more than you, put aside the ego and need for a large salary and total creative control. Be open to new ideas, stand up for justice instead of silencing queer, female or non-white voices. Until this happens, his company cannot truly call itself one of the "100 best places to work" in Boston.


  7. Helpful (6)

    "Half innovative design-focused development house, half stodgy authoritarian waterfall company"

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

    I worked at Harmonix Music Systems full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    This is a daring, innovative organization that is not afraid to be bold and take risks. There's always something new and crazy creative being worked on, and yes, it's pretty universally awesome.
    The environment is really, really fun. Nerf guns, foosball, arcade machines, every console you can think of (and some you didn't know existed), huge game library.
    The people here are amazingly gifted and talented. Lots of graduates of Ivy League universities and top-tier music and art programs.
    The location is unbeatable. Great restaurants, right next to the T, gyms, the works.

    Cons

    The pay is terrible given the cost of living in the greater Boston area. Great health insurance makes up for some of this, but expect to be eating packages of instant noodles for dinner more often than not.
    There is a culture of insularity and fear here, reinforced by the auteur mentality that many of the more senior people have. Do not challenge the creative direction or development decisions of anyone who has any tenure, or you will suddenly be in the next round of yearly layoffs.
    Still sees crunch (mandatory overtime) as inevitable. In fairness, they are a lot better than other game companies about managing this well.

    Advice to Management

    Do 360 evaluations - for everybody. You may be surprised what you find.
    When an employee discusses things like pay, benefits, career growth, or organizational change, the usual line as to why it can't be done is "that's just how the game industry is." That may be true, but you're in charge so go fix it.
    You are tremendously wasteful of talent. Start investing in your people. You go through a lot in your hiring process to ensure that employees are a cultural fit, and then do virtually nothing to grow or mentor them. Move away from "awesomeness detection" and towards "awesomeness development."
    Get more involved in understanding the needs and dynamics of the people who are actually working on these games and crunching to get them done. Management feels very, very distant from the working floor.

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Great place for innovative game developers"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at Harmonix Music Systems full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Great company, great people, great location

    Cons

    Frequent layoffs due to mercurial nature of music gaming industry


  9. "Wonderful Dream"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Senior Designer in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Senior Designer in Cambridge, MA

    I worked at Harmonix Music Systems full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Motivated Team, Non-traditional developers. The entire environment is like one big band working together.

    Cons

    Non-traditional developers. There have been some entry-level development mistakes made across the board.


  10. Helpful (3)

    "Evolving, Learning Business"

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

    Pros

    Harmonix is an organization with fresh leadership working hard to correct and evolve the business. Studio leadership is strong (one slight con: all male senior management team). The studio is putting the keys to the future in the hands of its employees: pitches and green lights have the ability to turn into real, funded projects. Management structure has changed but is trying hard to shift focus to people and projects.

    Lots of cool new and creative things going on at the studio, with fresh talent willing to learn and grow; lots of growth opportunities for core development disciplines. Very safe environment where everyone feels safe providing feedback to managers, senior managers, and asking questions. Very clear escalation path.

    Steve Janiak, the new CEO, is empathetic and business-savvy, having run programs and businesses outside of games for years. The studio is small enough that many people would feel comfortable walking into the CEO's office to ask a question.

    Cons

    Dubious long-term financial upside. Haven't been real bonuses in years, and the company is waiting for its next big hit.


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