Riot Games "santa monica" Reviews | Glassdoor

Riot Games Employee Reviews about "santa monica"

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  1. "Working at Riot Games"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Environment Artist in Santa Monica, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Environment Artist in Santa Monica, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Riot Games full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Culture, relationships, mentorship, encouraging atmosphere, better than industry salary, on-boarding denewbification week, 1:1's, campus, free food, benefits, no one is holding your hand... If you make it to Riot you are the best of the best and are fully responsible for contributing at your highest level, well rounded problems to solve

    Cons

    Located in Los Angeles, high cost of rentals/houses. High salaries don't necessarily mean that you can afford a decent living situation in Santa Monica.

    Advice to Management

    The current management is amazing and I've loved working with each manager and director I've interacted with.


  2. Helpful (4)

    "Fantastic work environment with occasional shortcomings"

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

    I have been working at Riot Games full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    - The LAX campus is one of the coolest and most relaxing places in all of Los Angeles. Kudos.
    - Coworkers are amazing. Everyone is passionate about what they do, and everyone wants to see the company and our game succeed. Going the extra mile is the standard, not the deviation.
    - Riot cares about its employees, and tries to make sure people take time off / take care of their bodies / etc.

    Cons

    - Work/life balance can be hard to maintain, especially during crunch periods
    - Lots of departments have become extremely siloed, leading to duplication of work and loss of efficiency.
    - Salary is not great considering the cost of living in Santa Monica, which is obscene. Don't expect to work here for the money.
    - The feedback culture is sometimes ignored when it doesn't line up with ideas that upper management have already decided on. Can be frustrating to repeatedly voice concerns and see them ignored.

    Advice to Management

    - Make sure your feedback culture has a purpose. Voices bouncing off the walls don't lead to improvement, they just drain morale.
    - Pay employees a fair wage if you are going to force them to live in such an expensive area of an expensive town (ignoring people who are dedicated enough to handle a 2+ hour commute every day)

  3. Helpful (30)

    "Squandering Opportunities"

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

    I have been working at Riot Games full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    The work we do at Riot never gets dull. There are tons of amazing challenges and plenty of work for you to reach out and take. You can try new strategies and innovate on existing work. I would love to hire people who work at Riot for other companies as they are forced to innovate and push boundaries regularly.

    A majority of the company really cares about League, and it is great that everyone has high empathy for our players, as we are players ourselves.

    The perks are genuinely outstanding and I haven't seen better in another game company.

    Cons

    Over time, Riot has started dramatically sliding into a downward trajectory due to our explosive growth. Long gone are the days where everyone worked hard together and strive to provide tangible results towards player value. There are still pockets where this exists, but are more of the exception than the rule. Friendships, nepotism, and saying the right thing in meetings are now far more important to career growth than anything else.

    There is a major focus on bringing in new people who are considered awesome with only scattered emphasis on giving people opportunities to grow themselves. Some of those same awesome people then leave within 6 months.

    Taking on new projects and demonstrating results there are often looked upon negatively if you don't execute them flawlessly. We have become super risk adverse and are so afraid of making a mistake many people sit in paralysis.

    We constantly pat ourselves on the back and say how awesome we are and then remind ourselves to be humble in our awesomeness. There certainly is lots of awesome stuff we do, but there is a ton of dead weight and very little real humility.

    We are proud of our feedback culture, and how open and trasparent we are. For some parts of Riot that is really true and those people are very lucky. For other parts, people live in fear of leaving real feedback for fear of retaliation. We are in the middle of our review process and it is almost all anonymous due to that fear.

    These problems are more significant for women at Riot, because they routinely seem to get the short end of the stick. Double standards, worse pay, higher expectations and faster to be exited.

    If you are a smooth talker and want what is probably a safe and interesting job for years to come, I would highly recommend Riot. If you want to be valued by your results, and paid a comparable amount to other companies in Santa Monica, pick somewhere else.

    Advice to Management

    Look at your senior leadership staff and then at some of your mid tier leaders. Genuinely hold each other accountable for results and for growing their people. Don't just say it, actually measure it. If an initiative, discipline, or work team can't show meaningful progress in delivering player value and leveling their people up over the past year and show it easily, then maybe the leadership structure needs to change.


  4. Helpful (2)

    "Fantastic place to work if you're a self-starting, motivated individual who is able to self-manage."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - QA Analyst in Santa Monica, CA
    Current Employee - QA Analyst in Santa Monica, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Riot Games full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    * Incredible perks, from tons of swag and free food to subsidized gym memberships and healthcare benefits. Pay is competitive (in my experience), but I have seen some pay complaints while looking through other reviews, so draw your own conclusions.
    * Player-oriented, global focus means that the company is actively trying to make decisions that positively impact the customer. This is not just lip-service; cost discussions nearly always take a backseat to player concern.
    * Executive leadership make it a point to be accessible and transparent and seem to honestly believe in cultural values.
    * Tons of growth opportunities. Riot hires for people, not positions, so they will help you to heavily invest in your future, even if that's in a different position than the one you hired into. If you can recognize a need on another team and can make a case for why you can fill that need, it's likely that you'll be able to move there.
    * The vast majority of Rioters are A-type personalities who get things done and are not afraid to challenge bad decisions when they see them. However, it is not (in my experience) a particularly cutthroat work environment. Everyone understands that they are on the same team and work fervently to support you when possible. These are hands-down some of the best and brightest coworkers I've ever had.
    * Bottom-up instead of top-down approach to processes means that generally teams do what works for them instead of being handed process mandates from overseers who may be out of the loop.
    * Trying and failing is encouraged and actively de-stigmatized.
    * From a QA perspective, QA is generally seen as valued work and you are treated well. Adoption/acceptance happens quickly on a team if you can prove your worth. Having worked at several other major games companies in the Southern California area, I can tell you firsthand that this is NOT usually the case for the rest of the industry.

    Cons

    * Ambiguous roles can lead to confusion/failure if you require static goals and/or structure to be successful. Be prepared to decide for yourself exactly what you can/will handle, because no one else will decide for you.
    * In that vein, very little standardization of work processes/best practices; each team does what makes sense for them, for better or worse. Be prepared to learn a whole new set of tools and skills if you change teams.
    * Communication between teams can be difficult (but is still encouraged).
    * Most positions require an extremely strong resume and/or quite a bit of work experience to qualify for. Very few truly entry level positions.
    * Bias towards hiring A-type personalities means that unless you are comfortable challenging and actively contributing to a team, you do not belong here. Riot is not a place for wallflowers.
    * Coworkers can be blunt and open conflict is preferred over backstabbing politics. If you cannot easily take criticism or are afraid of conflict, this is not the work environment for you.
    * Living in LA is the worst. Expensive, crowded, noisy, awful traffic, no parking anywhere. Santa Monica is a little better, but unless you're willing to shell out $1500-$3000 a month, don't get any ideas about living there.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to invest in culture training/alignment/meetups. It seems to be working well, even with the insane amount of growth we've been experiencing!

    The level of transparency here is unparalleled and very much appreciated.

    More personal growth/training opportunities to level up would be appreciated - currently there are quite a few for developing soft skills, but relatively few technical classes offered.


  5. Helpful (44)

    "Enjoy the honeymoon..."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Manager, Publishing Org in Santa Monica, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Manager, Publishing Org in Santa Monica, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Riot Games full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    TLDR:
    You are surrounded by very talented people, many of which really care about our players.
    The core values of the company are truly awesome.
    Flexible Time off is great, use it.
    The regional autonomy model can be very empowering.
    Great if you are a single guy in your 20s

    Breakdown:
    Riot can be one of the best places you ever work at. Make sure you quickly understand which core values the company is living versus ones they are aspiring to (A.k.a. they are very hit or miss on) and you won't be let down. If you are working on something of high value and focus viciously on it, you will succeed. If you succeed, promote it internally through Taste-the-Riot and Show &Tell and you will be given more opportunities to do so.

    There are many amazing opportunities to learn from the best talent in the industry and if you have a role which touches the game you will feel part of delivering a great game to a passionate player base which idolizes you for the most part. It can feel really great to see how much appreciation players have for your work all over the world. If you care about making players delighted, this is the right place for you.

    Some of the benefits are great. Use them as much as you can since they are a pretty big part of your compensation. Riot is very strategic with its perks, but if you are single and in your 20s you can really capitalize on a gig from Riot. Participate in all the social clubs, spend time at the office or with your office pals, learn Kickboxing, do Yoga, learn to swing dance, go our drinking, go to the gym, etc etc etc.

    Some departments and regional teams have true autonomy. If you are in one of these places, capitalize on this and leverage your creativity and talent to make incredible things happen. The budget is more of a guideline anyway so just make sure that enough player value is delivered and you are golden. If you are not in one of these places find a way to get in with one of the decision makers (your colleagues can tell you easily who those are). Be sure to also find out which groups require you to work unacceptable hours and just avoid them unless you are a masochist.

    Cons

    TLDR:
    Like with Amazon.com, if you want the truth, look over the negative reviews and filter for common sense
    Clear nepotism and favoritism at the highest levels of the org causes a lot of morale issues
    Barracks-like harassment and discriminatory language are the norm in some groups
    Snake pits are cleverly disguised as blueberry bushes, trust no one
    Relationships are way more important than intelligence / aptitude.
    If you are looking for feedback, coaching or mentor-ship beyond entry level, wrong place for you
    Compensation for some roles is abysmal for the cost of living in Santa Monica

    Breakdown:
    Riot solicits reviews from people frequently for this site. given that your first 3 months are a great period of glee and high-fives and that they are hiring like mad, not surprised by the positive skew. The honeymoon is great in many ways, however I would suggest looking over all the negatives, this is where you can get to the meat of what the issues are. Some may not bother you or affect you, in which case Riot is perfect!

    Whether the place tries to be a meritocracy or not, having a sibling run part of your company is going to cause issues, especially when he is abrasive and unable to show anyone else who is not on the Board any professional courtesy. To make matters worse you have rude and incompetent people being rewarded and allowed to fail repeatedly while other teams have to re-explain the reasoning behind projects over and over after a proven record of success. All this leads to spotty morale for people who are passed the aforementioned "honeymoon" stage.

    If you have sensitivity to bro-ish behavior, crude jokes about gender, ethnicity, age and trolly harassment you should avoid Riot. These are part of the culture in most of the teams except data science and art.

    The organization has many people who will smile to your face and then stab you in the back when it will bring them even a slight bit of advancement. This is not a problem if you are fiercely competitive and assume this going in, however if you are not a fan of this kind of environment it can be very disheartening, especially in a culture priding itself on transparency and feedback sharing as well as friendliness.

    Figure out who the key people are, build relationships with them and make them feel that you are indispensable for their success. This will pay you way more dividends than competence or aptitude. Granted, relationship management is a key part of succeeding at a job, the skew however for Riot is far more towards relationships and popularity with the right clique.

    Finally, if you are single and willing to room with others or if you are hired as a senior leadership you may be able to afford living in the area. Outside this make sure you are not captured by the glitz and glamour of the local entertainment or you will be in debt in no time.

    Advice to Management

    Nepotism is an issue people are afraid to bring to your attention. You should probably look into that.
    Racism, Sexism and Harassment are not solved via a 3 hour class. Ticking time bomb.
    Check up on our "Feedback Culture". Demand to see what communications have happened. Put checks and balances in place. When most of your departures are surprised at the news, it should give you some clues. "Self-awareness" is not a justification for lack of direct performance communication.
    For the love of god fix the central-local model.

    You should probably be more open about projects in the works with people internally. Siloed teams and having your badge not open certain doors can make your promises of transparency and trust sound pretty hollow.
    Bring in leadership which understands how a company of your current size is run. You started to do so which is encouraging. Consider which senior leaders are doing more harm than good. If you are honest with yourselves they should stick out fairly prominently.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Interned at Riot Games over the summer, had a fantastic experience."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Intern - Anonymous Intern in Santa Monica, CA
    Current Intern - Anonymous Intern in Santa Monica, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Riot Games as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    As an intern I was treated very respectfully. I was given actual responsibilities, meaningful work and I felt like I was able to make an impact. I was given ample tools and opportunities to stand out and prove myself. The passion you feel from Rioters in the workplace is palpable, and everyone seems to genuinely enjoy what they are doing. The focus on culture, treating employees as people, as well as the vast number decisions made with the player in mind first really makes this company stand out from other AAA studios as genuine.

    Cons

    Rent in Santa Monica is quite expensive. Company structure is very flat, so people used to strict, bureaucratic type companies will likely feel out of place.

    Advice to Management

    Keep up the good work, but also be quicker to jump on and address inter-team communication issues that can lead to delays and frustration.


  7. Helpful (2)

    "My biggest dream come true."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Intern - Associate Software Engineer (Core Services) in Santa Monica, CA
    Current Intern - Associate Software Engineer (Core Services) in Santa Monica, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Riot Games as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Motivated, passionate, and extremely intelligent people. Awesome & fun atmosphere. Truly "takes play seriously" to heart; Gamer/player-focused. Younger workplace (than most others I've been at). Impactful work - as an intern, my feature will impact millions of new signups worldwide. Brilliant leadership (I can understand why this place is the best to work); most days, I don't even want to go home. The weather is always ridiculously warm and sunny.

    Cons

    Santa Monica is expensive, and everything is really spaced out. It's hard to travel places without a car or some sort of Ride-share app. Rapid and constant hiring makes it hard to know everyone; corporate culture has to be kept an eye on. Sometimes, you can get thrown in the deep end of something without context or guidance.

    Advice to Management

    Don't forget what kind of identity you want to set out for yourself. Sure, we have our culture now, and I'm sure we'll have it 3-5 years from now, but what happens after that? How big are we going to get? Once we reach the scale of Amazon, Facebook, Google, or Microsoft, how will you ensure that the culture then is at least somewhat similar to the culture now?

  8. Helpful (2)

    "Tough but very fair"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - QA Leadership in Santa Monica, CA
    Current Employee - QA Leadership in Santa Monica, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Riot Games full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Freedom to work on numerous projects. Significant autonomy. Flexible hours. Excellent facilities. Pushed to grow both professionally and personally. Great compensation. Really great benefits packages!
    The leadership here is amazing, if you understand what they are trying to do. This isn't a corporate atmosphere, and it shows in everything we do.

    Cons

    Difficult work/life balance for some people. Santa Monica is quite expensive. Some people may find it difficult to maintain their drive in the face of continuous development. Many date driven events lead to stressful releases. fairly outspoken fans can be difficult to deal with.

    Advice to Management

    Some management are a bit difficult to approach due to their somewhat 'alpha' personalities. They are great at their jobs, but having to talk to them can be a bit of a stressful moment.


  9. Helpful (34)

    "A siren song hides rocks ahead"

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

    I have been working at Riot Games full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Flexible schedule
    The hours are flexible, which is awesome. No one is actively babysitting you (unlike much of the corporate world these days). Feel free to shuffle your hours around as long as you make all of your (MANY) meetings, which in practice puts a damper on that flexibility. Better stay a couple hours late, so you have time to actually do the work we talked about in all those meetings.

    Your work can touch a massive audience
    That is, if it's in the 5-10% of things we do that actually see the light of day. Most projects are a complete mess and get rebooted constantly. It's demoralizing when players complain about needing feature or product X that we've been working on for years, but will probably never ship due to internal politics. Some Riot time might look good on a resume because of our reach, but don't plan on Riot being good for your portfolio, or your confidence.

    Play League of Legends at work
    You should, because you'll need some kind of stress relief from the insanity, if you can squeeze a game in between meetings. Again, super cool benefit but kind of hampered by the reality of Riot life. The other double-edged sword is that people get really loud when they play. If your work schedule doesn't match up to your neighbors' prepare for constant distraction as they shout profanities at each other across the room.

    Lots of free food
    Remember the freshman 15? Try the Riot 20! This is how Riot shows it's love. Catered meetings and presentations, late night dinner subsidies, adult beverages at company wide events. It's really nice for the first few months. The numerous college-aged kids at Riot get excited about it a lot longer, but it's appeal can only last so long.

    Benefits
    This is one of the few areas where Riot shines. Primarily because it is easy to throw a chunk of money at the people team and there's not a lot of politics involved. If your SO doesn't have their own coverage, Riot will subsidize them as if they are an employee, which is a very nice gesture and is probably very useful to some Rioters. 401k match is decent too.

    Cons

    Ineffective leadership
    Titles don't matter, except when they do. What passes for autonomy here is a lot of theoretical talk about possible directions we can go among the masses at Riot, but the actual decisions are all still made in closed door meetings between product owners and top leaders. Once teams observe this effect, they tend to flail around trying to please the leadership. There's a real sense that no one at the top really understands which of our early decisions caused our success and which were the decisions we succeeded in spite of, so many of our leaders are afraid to make the kind of bold decisions we need to raise quality to where we want it. Painful conversations often just get kicked down the road, so we trudge on with the status quo. Many mid to upper level managers are inexperienced and/or insensitive, causing pockets of poor morale and patterns of avoidance.

    Our values often ring false
    One example: we use that word humbitious (ambitious but humble). Honestly, I think we are starting to fail at both. There's a lack of urgency in the decision making progress, because it feels like we automatically rake in a fortune no matter what we do, so why rock the boat? The humble part is fading too. There are a lot of alpha types that dominate conversations and leave little room for healthy debate. Nobody is really keeping these people in check, and they are found in many leadership positions.

    We're overly focused on hiring over internal promotion
    The discipline leaders are so focused on desperately hiring as fast as possible, that they aren't nurturing their existing teams properly. If you are currently being wooed by Riot recruiters, enjoy it. It's possibly the last time you will feel like Riot really cares about your growth. There is no clear path to promotion, and it's rare to hear about them. We recently started a regular performance review program, but the reviews don't appear to have any relationship to compensation or title.

    Stagnant compensation
    If you join up you'd better darn well negotiate like a boss, because you're getting stuck with that salary for the long haul. Riot is so obsessed with hiring, that it is ignoring the stagnant compensation of it's existing teams. This a growing powder keg that few are talking about except in frustrated whispers, because leadership has made it clear that we should just do our work out of a passion for our players. It seems the managers below them have interpreted that literally to mean no one should talk about money. Ever. Sure, passion is our primary motivation, but passion only stretches so far when you never get cost of living adjustments or bonuses to prop up dead wages and the office is located in Santa Monica, one of the most expensive areas to live in So. Cal. Mixed messages.

    Advice to Management

    Less is more
    We need to focus our resources on doing fewer things better. A healthy network of communication doesn't happen overnight, so if we just scale blindly, we will have lots of people, but they will waste their talents because our efforts are all over the place.

    Take care of Rioters, not just candidates
    It's getting harder and harder to justify the Riot lifestyle because of location and cost of living. I understand financial incentives will not get better work out of creative people, but it will help them to stay at Riot longer so you can get more out of them. Plus, the work force is aging and more people are starting families. Eventually, it will be clear that Riot is not a healthy place to stay for the long term while trying to provide for a family, and there will be a mass exodus of top talent. I worry that we're on the brink of this very soon if something doesn't happen to prevent it. Basic cost of living increases would be a good start.

    Open door policy is not enough
    You have to actively seek out the pain within the company and solve it. Many Rioters are afraid to tell you the truth because of the concern of retribution from discipline leaders or other managers.

    Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid
    We have a massive audience. No matter what we do, some players will rage against it. We need to have strong conviction in the face of temporary anger that we have done our homework and we are confident we will make things better for the majority of players. If we cater to the small percentage of players that flip out every time we change something, we will not make the changes we need to move ahead.

    We CAN fix this.
    There's so much amazing talent locked up in this organization, I know we have it in us to fix what's broken. Communication is the key. We just have to be more honest with ourselves about what is actually dysfunctional and give more Rioters a voice in company decisions. The constant Riot cheerleaders are drowning out the voices of concern within the company, which is super dangerous. We are critical because we want Riot to reach it's potential, and with a drive to pay more than lip service to our values, it absolutely can.

    Nothing would make me happier than coming back in a year and adding stars to my next review.


  10. Helpful (3)

    "Player Focused - It Works!"

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

    I have been working at Riot Games full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    I've worked at several game studios over the past decade and can say, without hesitation, Riot is the best company I've ever been a part of.

    + Marc and Brandon (the founders) are legitimate gamers and great leaders that genuinely care about the experiences Riot delivers to players. This trickles down throughout the organization.
    + Riot is a business, but the strategy is "deliver awesome and the players will reward us" instead of "figure out how to squeeze every last dime out them"
    + There's a healthy balance of affording teams autonomy while keeping them in sync with organizational efforts.
    + Tremendous career growth opportunities for individuals, both horizontally and vertically.
    + Great compensation, benefits, and perks, and a support staff that continuously strives to make them even better.

    Cons

    - Explosive growth over the last few years has led to some growing pains related to communication, culture, and facilities. Fortunately the company is pretty good at identifying and tackling these issues.
    - Mandated crunch is rare, but there is definitely a culture of voluntary long hours.
    - Development tools, especially for content creators, are simply not a high priority.
    - The cost of living in Santa Monica / West LA is ludicrous.


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