Obsidian Entertainment Reviews | Glassdoor

Obsidian Entertainment Reviews

Updated 5 Aug 2019

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Found 27 reviews

3.7
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Rating TrendsRating Trends
71%
Recommend to a Friend
76%
Approve of CEO
Obsidian Entertainment CEO Feargus Urquhart (no image)
Feargus Urquhart
15 Ratings
  1. Helpful (1)

    "Fantastic Company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - QA Tester in Irvine, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Obsidian Entertainment full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Great company culture, good pay and great work-life balance.

    Cons

    There can be frequent layoffs.

    Obsidian Entertainment2018-11-16
  2. Helpful (4)

    "Stable work environment and passionate coworkers"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Artist in Irvine, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Obsidian Entertainment full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Good place to cut your teeth as a junior entering the industry, or as a intermediate artist looking to grow. People who show initiative are often recognized and promoted. Mandatory "Crunch" is very rare.

    Cons

    Scope of projects can spiral out of control due to failures at the production level (bad data fed to directors) or project directors with good data making delusional decisions.

    Advice to Management

    More accountability is needed at the project director level when a project's scope is mismanaged.

    Obsidian Entertainment2019-08-06
  3. Helpful (1)

    "Welcoming Environment, Good Devs"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    Former Employee - Intern 

    I worked at Obsidian Entertainment full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Coworkers are very welcoming, great company culture Superiors eager to explain when you're stuck Very flexible with hours and life events

    Cons

    Lower pay than expected Would benefit from greater coding discipline across teams

    Obsidian Entertainment2018-10-10
  4. Helpful (23)

    "Subsistence-level game development"

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

    I worked at Obsidian Entertainment full-time

    Pros

    - You will make close friends in the trenches. - If you already live in Orange County and need a paycheck, you can earn one here.

    Cons

    At the heart of Obsidian is a coterie of apathetic underperformers propped up by a slow churn of overworked, underpaid developers held to higher standards than senior employees. - You will not be able to afford to live near the office. - Highly political work environment. - Obsidian’s development strategy is to expect as few developers as possible to achieve more than is humanly possible, in as little time as... possible, with as little support as possible: insufficient management, multiple roles per developer, limited QA, penny-pinching and corner-cutting (no bonuses), and highly scrutinized productivity. Positive feedback is infrequent. The belt is tightened further when success is limited, as though success will increase with fewer resources - however, game scope is allowed to inflate indiscriminately, sometimes by owner demand. - Absolutely no learning occurring from project mismanagement. If someone insists the next project will be ‘better’, don't fall for it. - No training for management positions (or any position). There is an unspoken expectation that employees accept, cope with, and compensate for inadequate management/production. - Continuously changing tasking pipelines as though the problem isn’t that that each producer is expected to manage multiple departments as well as adapt to shifting goalposts from owners. - The highest paid, most senior people demonstrate the least accountability and, in some cases, the worst behavior. - Regularly practiced "cannibalism" where developers are 'borrowed' from one project to fill a void in another team - however since Obsidian is reluctant to hire anyone even when necessary, managers on the borrowing team get sneaky, cut deals, and slide work under the table to hold on to the borrowed employee. - There is no female leadership, and Obsidian has driven away the majority of its female staff in recent years. Women may not experience sexual harassment at Obsidian but their expertise will be ignored, their work will not be acknowledged (in quality or quantity), they will not receive the privileges reserved for the owners’ friends (promotions), and their longevity at Obsidian may be hindered by owner bias - regardless of their value as a teammate and their contributions to the company. Owners/Upper Management - Owners seem to be in a perpetual cold war. For better or worse, decisions happen when one them gives up fighting the other. - People’s experiences at Obsidian will vary dramatically depending on how much the owners like them. For example, leadership positions and promotions are reserved for friends and people who the owners “like” regardless of obvious red flags. - Hiring preference goes to friends or acquaintances despite qualifications. - Owners are far removed from the actual work of making games and seem surprised by everything that takes longer and costs more to make than it did in 2006. - Juvenile antics from owners including playing favorites, holding grudges, defensiveness, passive aggression, avoiding problems, fair-weather friendliness, withholding or being coy with feedback and expectations, and neglecting people they don’t like. - You will see senior employees and leads refusing to collaborate, ignoring direction, sneaking in content, ignoring feedback, avoiding confrontation to the detriment of the project, being defensive, failing to communicate, going behind the backs of other leads and departments, etc. - Owners describe Obsidian as a place of innovation and creativity but shoot down anything outside their narrow comfort zones, scrape the bottom of the same barrels, and avoid risk to a degree that borders on cowardice (yet all the while absorbing any collateral cost accrued by their poor leadership picks and mismanagement). - Owners regularly ignore projects. Other times they procrastinate playing projects until the eleventh hour, then demand changes. - Owners will not lift a finger to retain valuable employees, who are jumping ship at a regular pace. - Owners claim to have open-door policies but bringing issues to their attention only wastes your own time - the most serious problems are of their making, or the making of one of their untouchable favorites. - In the interest of 'transparency', the whole company gets to hear about who an owner chats with at trade shows, which at best foreshadows dead ends and at worst foreshadows bad deals, but wastes everyone's time either way. - A history of inaction and even retaliation from upper management results in reluctance among lower-rung employees to bring up issues. - A complete deafness to company morale and emotional health of employees.

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    Advice to Management

    The supposed pedigree of Obsidian, with its best work slipping ever into the past, is is not worth the personal cost of working here. If Obsidian can not or will not pay average salaries, and if it will continue to expect employees to move mountains while being jerked around by all and sundry, then the very least they can do is treat everyone who puts up with it with the same level of respect.

    Obsidian Entertainment2018-08-07
  5. Helpful (11)

    "Your team will keep you going when it gets rough... but doesn't make up for the deep-rooted problems"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Obsidian Entertainment full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Really friendly and caring people Monthly birthday treats Parties and holiday activities are fun when they happen

    Cons

    Company has been around 15 years, run by people who've been around 10 more. You'd think they'd know how to run a business by now, but you'd be wrong. Leadership is completely entrenched in old ideas and micromanagement. Despite several close calls in the past, the company has not structured deals in a timely & effective manner to prevent massive layoffs. Any sense of "open" structure is an utter farce -... leadership has no time for you on a personal level (despite the facade of an 'open-door policy) meanwhile getting involved on a microscopic level on projects and not allowing the talent they have to shine. Pay is below average, no bonuses. Zero career progression/promotions, spare in-the-trench or if you're a friend or family of an owner. Massive nepotism. HR is utterly incompetent. Owners have explicitly said they don't read reviews and decide raises based on their opinion of you. Due to micromanagement, leadership causes massive delays in projects due to midnight hour decisions or pivoting. Company strategy is to do the same thing for the next 5+ years with little innovation. Executive producer holds all the power.

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    Advice to Management

    -Get out of the way of your top talent, and hire top talent to fill in where leadership is lacking -Establish adequate training and career progression -Lose the nepotism -Explore new ideas

    Obsidian Entertainment2018-04-08
  6. Helpful (11)

    "Confused Company, Let Employees Do Their Jobs or They'll Leave"

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

    I worked at Obsidian Entertainment full-time

    Pros

    - Great devs, you’ll love your core team minus a director or two and most of the company owners - Despite cons below, devs and hanging out with fellow employees outside of work is great - you get to work on RPGs (except Pathfinder and a few other games in past not being RPGs)

    Cons

    - Compliments on performance or any feedback at all is rare - All gender issues in reviews below, lot of women have resigned, although lack of promotion and training happens to everyone - Pay is below average, raises are minor, money seems to be in a trashfire somewhere (DICE parties, sponsored or attended). What seemed to generate revenue for the company doesn’t last long, keeping the treadmill going - Sense... owners have checked out. CEO and owners absent a lot (especially this year and last – they’re more concerned about their new houses or renovating their houses than work), two in particular fight a lot, cold war-style (CEO and Exec. Producer) and waste time for months - Morale can get low - “Popular” review at top of queue is a paid featured review for Obsidian being an Enhanced Profile (it’s why the date is out of sync) - it’s also least helpful and super generic - Sense that if not an owner idea, it’s not going to go anywhere (different if kept within team) - Few job expectations except design, job training is negative reinforcement (less “do this, here’s what I want” it's more “you were wrong to do this” or “don’t do this”, kills morale) - Owners and several directors not held accountable for own tasks and responsibilities, esp. when causes problems for rest of team with delays or by them trying to do too much and add too many features - Owners literally demand respect, do nothing to deserve it - Owners and directors worse when involved with a project, can waste weeks of time based on decisions or eventually “fade away” leaving team holding the stick - Your department will get assigned devs without warning, they will be the type you don’t need (usually producers or desginers/artists no one team wants to work with), and you don’t get the people you DO need and have been asking for - The transfer of employees like this is often a further issue b/c their work performance has never been brought up with them, so it falls on the new team to do what the old team and the owners failed to do (not always, you get good ones, too) - Sometimes these employees are protected by owner friendships, adds further difficulty - Multiple tasking systems that never stick and are never adhered to, change often and tasking systems seem random - Owners ask teams to set up pages to get feedback, then don’t provide any feedback (except CEO, but comments are unhelpful) - Tasking systems further undermined by owners promoting them, then flipping the table and throwing it out the tasking window with sudden requests and no time assigned to do them – WHY TASK THEN - Tasking and programs that DO work (Slack) are strangely resisted - Lot of owner friendships and lot of subsequent employee friend retention as a result when higher-performers are let go – worse, NEW bad friend employees are hired, esp. in production, adding to the mess and inner circle - Get IPs but upper level doesn’t support them or believe in them (Pathfinder Adventures) – some team members don’t either - Poor contracts, but worse, exploit good ones with publishers, damaging relations with "cost padding" with no reason – team gets blamed - Refuse to pay contractors for work in order to create leverage with publisher to pay a milestone, team has to deal with it - Projects can get canceled suddenly with no back-up plans - Mistakes are not learned from, and common procedures for situations not established, even when easy to set up - Reviews either don’t happen, are late, and provide no direction for growth – worse (also said in other reviews below), reviews have a lot of individual bias – a lead’s opinion of your performance is worth less than an owner’s distant opinion of you, but you’ll never find out until too late b/c you don’t even get a review or feedback - Job you’re hired for may not be your job title, resulting in sudden surprise demotion when you ask why your title is different than it is - No management training, esp. production - Producers at Obsidian often end up switching to other roles in order to enjoy games again

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    Advice to Management

    - You set an example in all respects, take a good look at how you manage and how you treat people - Owners and directors - If your teams get more done at better quality and make publishers happy when you’re NOT involved, question how you lead and how you’re really contributing when you are involved - Grow up. The “we’re still the same scared kids we used to be, finding our way” doesn’t hold water 20+ years later,... so be an adult, not a baby - If you want employees to deliver things on time, don’t insult them by being late with everything YOU do (reviews, feedback on critical pipelines, etc.) - Train and manage employees, esp. production - Task production and task yourselves – and make it transparent. Production is one of the least tasked departments at the company, and owners set the example - Don’t bring in vacant drones or promote unproven business drones to fill needed positions in business management and marketing, trust in people already in those positions or take time to hire the right people to promote the company

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    Obsidian Entertainment2018-03-24
  7. Helpful (9)

    "Stuck in their ways"

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    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Irvine, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Obsidian Entertainment full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    - Some really talented, awesome people work there

    Cons

    - Structural decision-making problems. They've been making the same types of games for 20 years, and still don't know how to run a project without crunch time. - Leads are not well-supported, nor are they trained in how to manage people. - No senior women, and women are not promoted to senior positions. For a company that touts itself as caring about diversity, and that makes games with female characters in... important roles, this is both ironic and as serious lack. - Lack of feedback and reviews, moving goal-posts for advancement. - Lack of clear art direction, depending on the project. Artistic quality is not valued by studio as a whole, so it depends on whether or not the lead of a particular project is any good. - Highly political work environment. The quality of the work you do is irrelevant to your leads and only appreciated by your peers.

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    Advice to Management

    Create a clear pipeline for advancement. Restructure reviews to leave less room for individual bias.

    Obsidian Entertainment2018-02-07
  8. Helpful (9)

    "Good Place, but don't Rock the Boat"

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

    I have been working at Obsidian Entertainment full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    The owners are transparent about projects and accessible to everyone. Crunch is acknowledged as a sometimes necessary evil, but management genuinely tries to avoid it when possible. The owners and HR are also pretty flexible in working with employees. There's an understanding that life happens and they'll try to work with you for missed days and makeup time. There's a solid studio culture and love for RPG's.... People play D&D at lunch and stay late for game tournaments. There's a beer club and cheese club and all sorts of shenanigans that are encouraged throughout the year. The core group at Obsidian has worked together for decades. There's a feeling of camaraderie and family that's distinct from other places I've been.

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    Cons

    The flip side of people working together for so long is an entrenchment of doing things a certain way. There's resistance to updating game mechanics or even matching current industry trends. "Who else has done it this way?" is often asked by management before dismissing any "new" ideas (meaning not from CRPG's in the 90's). There's also a select group of employees who, for one reason or another, are always the... ones who get extra perks, promotions, or protection from layoffs . This doesn't seem related to talent, but moreso personal relationships with the owners. Employee promotion is almost nonexistent. The leads and directors are entrenched, even with other employees who could do a better job. If it were a bigger company this wouldn't be that big of a deal. At its current size this stifles the studio's overall growth. All of this contributes to a feeling of, "don't rock the boat." When you're hired, you'll probably stay at the position for the rest of your time at Obsidian. Owners will dangle promotion promises for years until people either threaten to quit or just straight up leave. The company has lost A LOT of good employees this way. Pay is a bit below industry standard. No bonuses.

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    Advice to Management

    Cycle through the project leads and management. Give employees some sense of career path advancement and/or mentorship. A lot of hungry and driven employees have left because they didn't see a future (and rightly so). Genuinely be fair to everyone. Employees notice the special treatment a few people consistently get.

    Obsidian Entertainment2017-09-30
  9. Helpful (10)

    "Needs structural change"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee 

    I worked at Obsidian Entertainment full-time

    Pros

    - Some interesting IPs. - Cool people with a good sense of community because the company is pretty small. - Fun work events. - few weekends and after hour crunch periods.

    Cons

    - They get bullied by publishers often. which often means making bad deals leading to later problems. - career progression is muddled. It's not clear what you need to do to advance and it can be hard unless you know or have someone vouching for you. Good work gets overlooked and rarely praised. - The pipelines need work, between collaborating with publishers and making sure employees are tasked correctly and with... reasonable workloads. - Leads need to be responsible for their people, not just given more work and treated as the touchpoints for informing their team of changes or the middleman to talk to producers. - Working in a vacuum, not a lot of peer review, iteration, feedback or collaboration. - Not a good environment for women. Sexism and missing stairs among some male employees. Also, there are few to no women in lead/management/senior positions.

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    Advice to Management

    - Create clearer hierarchy. - Don't hire seniors, make them, and promote people who do good work. - Stop leaning on past successes and push towards doing something new.

    Obsidian Entertainment2017-10-17
  10. Helpful (3)

    "Fun Company"

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

    I worked at Obsidian Entertainment full-time

    Pros

    They appreciate their employees and have fun projects to work on

    Cons

    No cons just make sure any comments about the projects are constructive, the artists and directors don't take "sound" comments lightly... like "ehh, meh, eesh, umm"

    Obsidian Entertainment2017-08-01
Found 27 reviews