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KingsIsle Entertainment Reviews

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2.9
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Elie Akilian
23 Ratings

45 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • The company does a great job of NOT working you to a nub as projects close in on their delivery date, so your work/life balance will not suffer (in 5 reviews)

  • Fairly accommodating work environment (in 5 reviews)

Cons
  • None of the perks of a game company as "successful" as they'd like everyone to believe they are (in 5 reviews)

  • Dark sweat shop like atmosphere for all but the upper management (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (7)

    "I would make sure that KI is on the right path before applying"

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

    I worked at KingsIsle Entertainment full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    -You got to work on fun and interesting projects.
    -We sometimes had employee organized events, little gatherings like cheese day.
    -No limits to creativity.
    -We would have game day once a year. Play games all day.
    -They would have game jams for a week. Little teams would create their own little games for pitching to CEO.
    -The financial compensation was fair.
    -Everybody seemed to have gotten along. I know I made some friends while there.

    Cons

    -The office culture mimics a real office environment. Not a game company environment.
    -They are very strict on using PTO. Need an hour off? You have to use 2 hours of PTO since that is the increment structure.
    -Made incorrect financial decisions that ultimately ended with 80 people getting laid off.
    -Not having true milestones and deadlines. (If you keep extending the deadline, then they don't exist)
    -Hard to advance in career.

    Advice to Management

    Listen to your grunts and less to the management. We had game jam weeks. We created games that functioned and played like a released game. No management on those teams. Do the math.

    Stop listening to whoever is extending the production pipeline, which bleeds money. Which ends up having to layoff 80 something people. Because you ran out of money.

    I would love for KI to survive and thrive once again. Create something new, like you did with Wizards. And continue building a community that loves you and wants to share their lives with.


  2. Helpful (8)

    ""Hubris based on decade old successes""

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

    I worked at KingsIsle Entertainment (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Overall the majority of the people at KI are very friendly, family oriented and easy to work with.
    Lots of opportunity for lunchtime activities and groups.
    Many members of the team are very talented.
    The exception however, is their new choice of gatekeepers in Design, Art and Engineering (aka the old gatekeepers who left prior to their one successful title Wizard 101 and have now returned).
    These Leads and Directors are self motivated, self justifying and in general have very little ability to lead or give coherent direction. The are also suspect in their intentions throwing others under the bus for their own indecision and short comings.
    At one point there were social events, parties and contests but those have since disappeared.

    Cons

    Poor game industry culture.
    None of the perks of a game company as "successful" as they'd like everyone to believe they are.
    No catered lunches, no free snacks, no free drinks, not even a once a week paid lunch.
    The company doesn't even pick up dinner when you are forced to work OT for crunch.
    Mediocre medical benefits compared to other large companies.
    Horrible PTO and time enforcement.
    Forcing employees to take an 1/8th of a day off if an hour late.
    Tons of time card bookkeeping and bean counting in tripplicate which eats into actual productive.
    Very limited vacation and PTO.
    Almost no flexibility to work from home or "make up hours".
    Outdated software and machines.
    Dark sweat shop like atmosphere for all but the upper management.
    No direction or scope for projects.
    Working under the AAA mobile mentality without any concept of what that means.
    Poor high level design choices with endless, aimless iteration.
    Cancelled a nearly complete MMORPG to chase mobile game revenue which neither the team nor management was equipped to pivot to.
    Poor executive leadership despite being well meaning in some cases.
    Non-Agile in every sense of the word.
    No creative direction. One trick pony.
    No ability to make a meaningful contribution because gatekeepers shout down anyone who has more experience or insight than they do.
    Endless iteration onmobile titles. Takes 2+ YEARS minimum to get a game approved for beta with miserable turnout.
    No biz intelligence on the mobile market. Decisions are based on antiquated preferences of lead designers and not what is trending.
    No ownership of product, owner and higher ups would rather fire/layoff talented contributors than loosen their reigns on their products.
    Crony mentality at upper levels.
    ZERO transparency.
    No accountability for "select" leaders responsible for failed projects.
    All responsibility falls on team members while leaders keep their jobs and continue the cycle of failure.

    Advice to Management

    Fire the ex-Socia failures and not the talented majority of your staff.
    Give up the reigns creatively especially for Mobile where you have no experience.
    Stop thinking Wizard can go on forever or that Pirate will ever make a turn around.
    Learn the mobile industry if you want to succeed in it.
    Come to grips that you sank your ship by allowing attrition and layoffs to bleed your talent pool.


  3. Helpful (1)

    "In Transition"

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

    I worked at KingsIsle Entertainment full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    The best part of working at KI would be the people you are surrounded by on a day-to-day basis. Those in the trenches, working hard to make something great.

    Cons

    The company is in a transition period, making it tough for those there to see what the end goal is. Are they a mobile studio, or are they an MMO studio?

    There is very little transparency on decisions or directions or results. Information is on a need-to-know basis, and 99% of the studio is deemed to be on the not-need-to-know list.

    Feature creep is a real issue. Games drag on and on because management is determined to "only ship games that are done right"... only problem with this is that "done right" targets change all the time.

    Advice to Management

    Take a long look at what it really takes to succeed in mobile, the amount of dollars that have to be spent to acquire users, and either decide to make mobile games or not make mobile games. Do or do not, there is no try.


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  5. Helpful (7)

    "Not-So Disney-Like"

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

    I worked at KingsIsle Entertainment (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Still a great game company in terms of Work-Life balance.
    Coworkers were immensely talented and experienced, as well as great people.

    Cons

    No transparency on how company is performing or decision making.
    For a small game company, it is run like a big corporation.
    Executive management makes decent business decisions, but terrible at decisions involving game direction.

    Advice to Management

    A little trust in your employees would have gone a long way. Letting people know how the company or game was performing in advance, and giving them some say could have given folks you hired time to come up with ideas or feedback on how to correct course. Too late though. I just hope you guys have enough to cover severances for those that remain.


  6. Helpful (3)

    "Full-time Employee"

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

    I worked at KingsIsle Entertainment (More than a year)

    Pros

    Core hours are nice. You can get in until 10AM and not be considered late, you just have to stay until 7. Or you can get in as early as 8 and leave at 5, but you have to be there between 10 and 5. Very casual office too. Wearing jeans everyday is awesome. The office is in a pretty good area for lunch/walking around during lunch. Cool people.

    Cons

    Strict about being in the office even if you could do your job from anywhere. Don't seem to care about the employees' life needs. No paid maternity leave which seems ridiculous in this day and age. Never gave us any progress about how the products were doing.

    Advice to Management

    Give your employees more of an idea about how the company is doing so layoffs aren't so out of the blue.


  7. Helpful (5)

    "Good Intentions"

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

    I worked at KingsIsle Entertainment full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    For many years this was a very stable company. Lately it has been less so but once it regains its strides, I believe it will be stable once more. IF it can regain its stride.

    Cons

    Like most companies, too much power in the hands of too few where games get changed or approved and then changed again. Very difficult for the higher ups to stay with a plan through completion.

    Advice to Management

    Listen to your people. Try to pick a vision and stick with it. Don't let go of your bread and butter games and throw everything at a portion of the industry that you had no experience in.


  8. "Great place to work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Plano, TX
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Plano, TX
    Recommends

    I worked at KingsIsle Entertainment full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    You gain great experience working on a AAA title.

    Cons

    They are trying to figure themselves out for the future, which does not bring in much profit.


  9. Helpful (3)

    "Kingsisle"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Engineer II in Austin, TX
    Former Employee - Software Engineer II in Austin, TX
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at KingsIsle Entertainment full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    A lot of new technology to learn. Good working environment. Nice people.

    Cons

    communication between upper management to workers need improvement

    Advice to Management

    Do good planing


  10. "Not a bad place to start"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Austin, TX
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Austin, TX

    I worked at KingsIsle Entertainment full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The culture created by co-workers was flavorful and interesting.

    Cons

    Sometimes it was difficult to be sure of how things were going.


  11. Helpful (5)

    "Sinking ship"

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

    I worked at KingsIsle Entertainment (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    The talent and people you meet are wonderful and great. Conveniently located next to a bar (you will need it).

    Cons

    Management, especially executives, are incompetent and penny pinchers full of ego. They expect you to be in your seat for a minimum of 8 hours each day, despite being salaried. Forget about taking care of life issues during the day. 401k is a joke. Benefits are minimalistic at best. Promotions are obtained through a brisk stroke of egos. Excellence is not recognized. Expect to be under payed.

    Advice to Management

    Realize that you should probably be doing something else with your lives. Good luck with your future en devours considering word gets around in an industry like this.



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