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NCSOFT Reviews

Updated October 31, 2018
116 reviews

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2.8
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NCSOFT CEO Songyee Yoon
Songyee Yoon
26 Ratings

116 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • "Some genuinely great people attempting to make this a functional and rewarding workplace and (before Carbine was closed) make some compelling new games" (in 6 reviews)

  • "Young, Stable revenue sources and competitive salary" (in 6 reviews)

Cons
  • "Slow decision-making process, a little bit bureaucratic" (in 6 reviews)

  • "Terrible relationship and communication with the Korean HQ" (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Great Company"

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

    I have been working at NCSOFT full-time

    Pros

    Awesome benefits and fun culture!

    Cons

    None at this time.


  2. "Analyst"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at NCSOFT full-time

    Pros

    Great experience and opportunity. Great coworkers.

    Cons

    Management can lack transparency when communicating with employees

  3. Helpful (2)

    "One Step Forward, Two Steps Back"

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

    I have been working at NCSOFT full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Some really good games
    Friendly coworkers
    Solid base salaries
    Good medical & dental benefits
    Sometimes good potential for promotion from within
    Nice place to live

    Cons

    Confused executives
    High staff attrition
    Increasing layoffs
    Can be very political
    Lack of trust across teams
    Success is not defined and goalposts are frequently moved
    Problems start at the very top

    Advice to Management

    Find a strategy, get aligned, and communicate it with your teams. Engage in an another executive refresh.


  4. Helpful (14)

    "No logic, no communication"

    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
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    This was the best group of people I've ever worked with. Everyone put their heart and soul into each days' work and it really showed. Together we grew and made some amazing things.

    Cons

    Nobody knows what the hell is going on upstairs. Nothing passed down to us made sense. Either management wasn't telling it to us straight, or they simply had no information (I suspect mostly the latter, though don't doubt some of the former). The incredibly talented team at Carbine was put through the wringer over and over to meet expectations that were not clarified. There were 'failures' that were given no explanation as to why exactly it was perceived as a failure. Where the team achieved great success with the impossible demands over and over, the goons up above looming over the Approve Button wouldn’t be able to find a sofa in their own living room with a map, Siri, and road signs, let alone a great game. The team delivered on EVERYTHING that was asked of them and more.

    It seems clear as things have been changing that NCSoft is moving into a more publisher-only realm with little interest in putting money into studios to develop their own content. You'll see them scavenging GDC looking for great ideas that have been independently funded that they'll eat up and take credit for. Seller beware, your greenlight process from here on out will just be a series of red lights at intersection after intersection with no one else on the road but you. Look out for the cliff at the end of it.

    And oh yes, the offboarding fiasco. What an embarrassment. Trying to be 'hip,' the NCSoft's portal webpage is skinned as an RPG experience. After being laid off, you have to go through this circus, which lists your Unemployment Benefits under a category called "Loot," and agreements you have to sign before receiving your severance are called "Quests" you have to complete. A little NCSoft robot mascot comes on screen to seemingly taunt you with a 'thank you' for working there and good luck on your next adventure.

    Advice to Management

    Communication needs to happen. You keep saying you'll do it, and then it keeps not happening. The Carbine team had no idea at any point what any higher ups thought of the pitches delivered to them. Playing telephone down through the ranks is not actually helpful, contrary to what you might think.


  5. Helpful (18)

    "Most dysfunctional game company in the industry"

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

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

    Pros

    Knowledgeable co-workers
    Good benefits
    Flexible working hours
    Competitive salary
    Get to work in the game industry

    Cons

    Awful leadership. 3 words can describe it: JUST PLAIN AWFUL
    The CEO surrounds herself with Yes-Men and never emerges from her Ivory Tower.
    Management will routinely lie to you
    HR will force managers to "re-calibrate down" employee reviews during the annual performance review period because "there are too many 4's and 5's"
    The bonus program is horrible. It's quite laughable.
    The CEO lives within her own echo chamber
    The products are all old, live MMO games with no roadmap schedule for new, cutting edge releases.
    Korea runs the show; you will do and implement what they tell you to do. To make matters worse, most of the best Koreans at HQ have left the company already, so you are left with the fodder.
    Work isn't particularly challenging, so there's lots of time to goof off, watch Netflix, or play other people's games.
    The mobile team in San Mateo is beyond horrible. They are going on 4 years now and have never released even 1 mobile game.

    Advice to Management

    Even Obi-Wan couldn't save this crew. There's no hope.


  6. Helpful (4)

    "Steer Clear"

    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
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Some genuinely great people attempting to make this a functional and rewarding workplace and (before Carbine was closed) make some compelling new games.

    Competitive-to-high base compensation.

    Some 'modern tech company' type bonuses like weekly donuts/fruit, company outings, holiday parties, etc. etc.

    Contract to publish Harmonix' next game could hold some compelling new opportunities for success.

    Ability to put in minimal effort and make a decent paycheck.

    Cons

    The running joke, which may not actually be a joke, is that NCsoft (U.S.) is run at a loss purposely to avoid taxation of the money sent over by the profitable Korean company. It's the only plausible explanation for the bizarre and at times schizophrenic decisions, questions, and demands that are made.

    Execs are out to lunch. The primary executives running the company don't have a clear direction or intent for the company. They let clear profit drivers go or take on clear profit-losing projects. Or they read a Newsweek article about Fortnight and then ask why our games don't make billions of dollars. Seriously.

    Wholly owned subsidiary = licensee nobodies. The entire NCsoft game publishing division are treated like drones. There's little-to-no agency, no chance to improve products, and very little allowed to help adapt products to their market. From what I'm told games are essentially changed only so much as to avoid outright negative backlash, but that's all. There are no developers in the U.S. offices that touch any PC titles, so we just put out whatever they give to us. Although NCsoft in the US is a part of the NCsoft company in Korea, it might as well be a third party licensee.

    Lack of passion/desire for excellence. If the executive leadership communicates with the employees (which is rare) it doesn't provide any framework for how to be successful, and it sends a signal of being ok with mediocrity.

    Stringing people along. The CEO of NCsoft U.S. (the wife of the CEO for the Korean HQ) will send an email once every few months with generic platitudes on how they're working to make things better, or how our employee survey results are being taken seriously, but of what little substance those emails have or plans to improve things have all been empty promises. HR projects are stopped after months of development, manager training programs are shelved, and small little blips that give anyone hope that things might actually be improving are just one-time blips or never materialize at all.

    "Never Ending Change" is one of the core company philosophies. It's also a running joke because it's obviously a bad translation from Korean, but it's a "funny but true" statement. This is a company that doesn't know what it's doing, so it constantly changes hoping it'll find a combination that works. Or maybe it doesn't want to find one! (see Con #1)

    401k matching is a joke. They put in a percentage of what you contribute, and don't match your full contribution. The two other studios I've worked at matched up to a percentage (3-4%) of your total pay, here they match a percentage of the percentage you put in. It was funny to get emails celebrating how they raised contribution matching up to 6% of what you've contributed! So if you divert say 1% of your take home which ends up being $100 from each paycheck, they'll put in $6. They don't even match your 1%. It's a percentage of a percentage.

    Puzzle-piece company. Some leadership is in Austin, some in OC, some in Seattle, some in San Francisco, etc. This is from years of the company moving their HQ from state to state (curious if those moves match with changing state tax laws...) meaning that there's leadership spread all over the country. That leaves entire departments with no direct leadership in their office, and even less of a reason to perform positively in their roles.

    It's a Korean company. This might be a Pro if you're Korean or used to it, but if you're from the U.S. and are used to working in U.S. studios this can be a big shock. Koreans run businesses very differently, and in my experience it leads to a lack of clarity or direction. Title and hierarchy are everything. If you don't have a specific job title there are levels of people that won't even speak with you. Koreans don't say "no", it's considered rude, so communication issues are constant and can lead to months of wasted time and effort. Saving face (chaemyeon) is everything. Many conversations are "pretend" because they are being polite or saving face. What you do is not as important as what you appear to be doing.

    Lack of direction for game production. A CDO was brought in to help right the ship in relation to Carbine and the San Mateo mobile studio, but the result was Carbine was closed, we were all let go, and San Mateo still hasn't actually launched a mobile title after 3+ years. The smart people there have already left or are leaving real soon. I think most employees are hoping for a success, but no one expects one because no one has clear direction of how to achieve one.

    Advice to Management

    I don't believe there's any changes made that could realistically improve this company. It will continue to be a profit loss for the HQ office, and I believe that may be the intent.


  7. Helpful (6)

    "Honest Review"

    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
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Good Salary
    Little Crunch
    No weekends, at least while I was there

    Cons

    Studio management has very little power/control over what they make. Every thing has to be approved by Korea which making the Studio heads more like middle management.

    One of the worst annually review systems I have ever seen in a company. Everything is subjective without guidelines to be judged against.

    No Free Snacks

    Get the feeling the NCSOFT does not trust their studios and things go from very good one minute to very bad the next.

    Not transparent at all. NCSOFT likes to tell the studios one thing and then do another based off of knee jerk reactions.

    Very hard to plan long term because the studios are always in a "reaction" mode when feedback come back from Korea.

    Financially motivated company that wants to follow instead of lead.

    Advice to Management

    Start innovating with new ideas. Stop worrying about how you compare to Tencent or Activation and start focusing on players and making fun games.

  8. Helpful (14)

    "Worst company I've ever worked for"

    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
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at NCSOFT full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great, talented colleagues...and that's it.

    Cons

    - Old fashioned company with old fashioned rules and approaches to development. (no work from home, no flexible PTO.)
    - Management completely and utterly incompetent with no understanding of the western games market.
    - Management approved a big hiring push for a new game they apparently didn't support...and then shut the game down...and then shut the studio down. What a senseless waste.
    - Poor communication between management and studio heads, to the point where they needed to hire someone as a go-between. (Always a good sign...)

    Advice to Management

    First of all, be ashamed of yourselves.
    Secondly, figure out what your goals are and communicate it to your studio heads. Preferably before they staff up and start work on the project you told them you wanted done.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Localization Coordinator"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at NCSOFT full-time

    Pros

    Great benefits, competitive salary, and nice coworkers

    Cons

    Limited opportunities to advance in career


  10. Helpful (16)

    "Complete and utter lack of Management"

    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
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    - Competitive Pay
    - Subsidized gym membership

    Cons

    - They spent YEARS making MXM (an ill advised foray in to the MOBA market that is dominated by LOL / DOTA) and then cancelled it with a few months because it was doing so bad
    - They've been dumping millions in to a mobile studio that still hasn't shipped a game in 4 years
    - They closed Carbine after stringing them along for two years, giving them zero direction on what type of game they'd like for them to develop.
    - They cancelled BnS console because they were incapable of communicating their needs to the contracted company
    - NCWest management exists because of nepotism from NCSoft Korea

    Advice to Management

    Completely divest in the west. You have absolutely no clue how to make games here. Go back to Korea, where at least you have some success.


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