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Sledgehammer Games

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Sledgehammer Games

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Sledgehammer Games Reviews

Updated May 11, 2021

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3.4
64%
Recommend to a Friend
82%
Approve of CEO
Sledgehammer Games Studio Head Aaron Halon (no image)
Aaron Halon
8 Ratings
Pros
  • "If you able to work on Call of Duty, it is a huge resume booster(in 18 reviews)

  • "Had" some of the most talented people in the industry(in 7 reviews)

  • Cons
  • "Crunch can be intense, but it is fairly minimal considering the entirety of the development cycle(in 15 reviews)

  • "cost of living is insane, but this is more of a side effect of having a studio in the heart of the bay area(in 11 reviews)

  • More Pros and Cons
    Pros & Cons are excerpts from user reviews. They are not authored by Glassdoor.
    1. 5.0
      Current Employee, more than 1 year

      Exciting work, great co-workers

      Nov 12, 2018 - Anonymous Employee in Foster City, CA
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      The best part of working at Sledgehammer are the people. Some of the industry’s best and most talented artists, designers, and engineers all under one roof. Everyone is very humble, approachable, and willing to help. Yes, the work required to produce one of the best-selling games of 2017 was demanding, but the excitement surrounding the process and launch is just as rewarding. Recently, the leadership change has been a huge breath of fresh air. Despite the (rather significant) challenges, the culture is evolving for the better. There are still some items that need addressing, but the Leadership team is exceptionally transparent, have all worked their way up through the ranks, and seem to be aware of the specific needs.

      Cons

      -Projects are driven by inflexible deadlines. Be prepared to work long hours to get the game out the door. -Fans can be brutal, sometimes game criticism can be tough to read. -The Bay Area is expensive. This is openly acknowledged, but investment in the people seems to be tightly regulated by Santa Monica-based Corporate. Compensation is heavily supplemented by shipping bonuses—which makes for three long years on a shoestring budget. -Finishing the game and starting over with a new development cycle is tough and has led to very senior/tenured people leaving.

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      6 people found this review helpful
    2. 1.0
      Former Employee, more than 10 years

      All the real talent is gone…:(

      May 11, 2021 - Senior Artist in Foster City, CA
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      While I was there I made a lot of great friends. Also made some good money during the glory days of cod.(which are now over)

      Cons

      This studio got run into the ground years ago by one of its co founders (whose initials are MC) It was a miserable place to work, but despite that, the talent in the studio was undeniable. Particularly at the Director level. Now of that talented crew of extremely seasoned veterans… one remains. Not sure why but he seems to be sticking with the ship till it goes down. All the real talent and leadership have moved on to other Bay Area studios.(SDS and 51st) what’s left now is seemingly people whose feet don’t come close to filling the empty shoes left behind. The contribution this studio makes to COD is small now… in fact nearly all the work we did on Cold War got flushed as the other COD studios took over. Add to that, it’s the most expensive studio that Activision owns. IMO it’s only a matter of time before it gets shut down if for only that reason… Same yourself from this place. Follow the real talent that once was here. All the great creatives went to SDS… all the great engineers went to 51st…. Choose your path wisely if you want to be happy or grow in your career.

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    3. 4.0
      Current Employee, more than 5 years

      The future has never been brighter

      Sep 30, 2019 - Anonymous in Foster City, CA
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      - Our former "head of development" and co-studio head Michael Condrey is gone. His departure in 2018 has been celebrated to this day. Probably the worst person to have lead a studio. - New studio head is great. He's about giving folks the tools to make great games and not standing in their way. - We're realigning the business and the future of development is exciting, unexpected. - New leadership is clear about their vision, is honest and transparent. Nothing shrouded in secrecy and we're finally free to build the games we want to play.

      Cons

      - There's still a lot of baggage that we have from the "old way of doing thing" and will take time to heal from former leadership. Little challenges all the time when it comes to process and streamlining - Salary is low for the cost of the Bay and can use some improvement (seems on par with all the reviews here, but worth mentioning) - Not everyone is down for the "new future", there's been decent attach rate but there are fence sitters out there. Unfair to the others when you don't fully commit. - The coffee isn't great.

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      9 people found this review helpful
    4. 3.0
      Former Employee

      A Mediocre Studio Which Despises it’s Own Culture.

      Jan 10, 2020 - Anonymous Employee 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      -Access to many toolsets. -If you able to work on Call of Duty, it is a huge resume booster. -Learn/collaborate with top-tier studios, such as Treyarch.

      Cons

      -Don’t come here if you like putting in extra effort. It will not be rewarded. -Studio despises the Call of Duty franchise, frequently using the insult "bro gamers", and doesn’t have a clear understanding of hardcore content. -Rampant office politics. -No room for growth. You will be expected to be here at least three years before any promotion, regardless of exceptional talent. -Bosses exercise favouritism and are impressionable. -Most people here are uncomfortable working on a pro-American subject matter.

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      12 people found this review helpful
    5. 1.0
      Former Employee, more than 5 years

      From Premiere Studio to Dumpster Fire.

      Jul 3, 2019 - Developer in Foster City, CA
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      "Had" some of the most talented people in the industry.

      Cons

      All the AAA talent has left. No Longer COD studio = No Bonuses to offset Bay area Cost. Most of remaining leadership is arrogant and self absorbed. They lack proper focus and guidance. Underqualified leaders. Poor leadership, the studio is a rudderless ship. Three better career options in the bay from the fallout.

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      17 people found this review helpful
    6. 4.0
      Former Employee, more than 8 years

      Lots of growth and potential

      Mar 2, 2019 - Food Eating Champ 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      The people that you work with are some of the most passionate people you will meet. The people that you become friends with are some of the best people you will have in your life. There are lots of interesting things going on and so much growth for individuals that I will not be able to see firsthand.

      Cons

      External management can get in the way.

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      2 people found this review helpful
    7. 4.0
      Current Employee, more than 3 years

      Change of leadership makes work better

      Dec 25, 2018 - Anonymous Employee 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      With the change of leadership it feels like teams have been given more creative control over their work. This has made working at sledge a much more enjoyable place. They are also taking transparency to heart and letting the team know what is happening at a higher level. Even if it isn’t always good news. This does a lot to give us facts and not circulate rumors on the floor.

      Cons

      We have lost a lot of great talent due to the change of leadership.

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      2 people found this review helpful
    8. 5.0
      Current Employee

      Changing for the better

      Oct 29, 2018 - Anonymous Employee in Foster City, CA
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Sledgehammer is a company that is turning around when it comes to treating employees better. The old studio head (it was one I am talking about in particular) ran the studio with an iron fist that nobody saw, but everyone felt. I can safely say that this is no longer the case and the little things we were missing or rules that didn't make sense but hurt the culture are slowly but surely changing for the better. Even HR has improved 10 fold since the change of studio head. I used to feel like HR was only a resource when someone messed up, but now honestly feel like I can go to them for any type of support without worry :) The bi-weekly studio all hands are wonderful for keeping everyone up to date and helps Even though you will be working on Call of Duty at Sledge, don't let that be a negative. NOTHING outside of whatever Rockstar makes these days carries the same amount of energy and cultural impact as this franchise does. It is a spectacular experience to be apart of a team that gets to deliver one of these Blockbusters and it looks great on your resume as well! Working in the bay area is awesome. As many game studios are leaving due to the cost of being here, it is nice that Activision is willing to keep a branch up here. However, you will have to find roommates to keep the cost of living down. Despite this, living in the bay as a positive. Especially if you haven't been before as there is so much to do. Crunch can get bad, but compared to previous studios I have worked for and stories I have heard at other studios the crunch is very minimal. You might be asked to stay later on launch year, but it wont be by much and it is usually voluntary. So it is possible to balance work and life here as long as you let yourself. I wish I can give Sledge a 4.5, so I will round up.

      Cons

      Lot's of people are leaving. Some people view this as a sinking ship. However, I see it as a way to come in and prove yourself early. As awesome as a lot of things are, we still don't have a lot of the perks other game studios have as far as quality of life items present in the studio. Recent decisions regarding future workloads are starting to be really, really worrisome... With more fans comes negativity among the fans. For every post about how great your game is, expect another about how lazy and awful the studio is. You will have to get used to it.

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      5 people found this review helpful
    9. 4.0
      Former Employee

      Good time for a while

      Dec 7, 2016 - Anonymous Employee 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      - Lots of talented people, had a great time working with them. - Depending on your department, the work-life balance can be good. For me it was great most of my time there, though Sledgehammer is pretty heavy on crunch for some disciplines.

      Cons

      - Pay was poor considering the cost of living. Bonuses were just large enough to keep me happy, but not large enough to help advance me financially. - Management is pretty "top down" and often feels disconnected from the rest of the employees and production. Weird requests and expectations were not uncommon. - There is an almost fascist attitude/culture regarding the work, depending on who you talk to. The higher up the person, the more they tend to advocate or expect that CoD is more important than your outside life, relationships, kids, etc. This is especially true of the COO. - This is a CoD studio. Half the people there believe CoD does everything right and the other half is frustrated at how resistant to change/growth the company is. - More or less true everywhere, but especially at sledgehammer I found that the longer a person was there, the more jaded, grumbly and unhappy they were. It is just abundantly clear that you are a disposable employee, not someone that they care about. Sledgehammer is fine for a while. It looks good on your resume, and most of the cons I described are a 'slow burn'. If you just want to be there for a year or two, I think it's good. Sledgehammer has a high turnover rate though because it's just not worth staying there.

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      3 people found this review helpful
    10. 5.0
      Current Employee

      An Opportunity to Work on one of The Largest Video Game Franchises

      Sep 25, 2017 - Anonymous Employee 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      -The people are amazing and talented. Sledgehammer is an opportunity to work with some of the most talented video game developers in the industry. -The work-life balance is better than other roles I have had (with Crunch being the exception, but not a new thing for anyone who has worked in the industry). -Charity of the Month is an opportunity to give back -We get some pretty sweet swag -Employees get discounts on Activision / Blizzard games (plus a few free ones each year) -Happy Hour every Friday -Dinner provided during Crunch time -Free Gym Membership (and an on-site fitness center) -A focus on building diversity within the studio population -There is a slide to get to the Cafe -A balcony with a great view -They throw pretty amazing parties for Holidays and when the game ships -Free snacks, coffee, soft drinks, and donuts on Friday -We get paid to play Call of Duty

      Cons

      -Crunch can be intense, but it is fairly minimal considering the entirety of the development cycle. Stress levels can run high. -Sometimes management can appear slow to make decisions. However, I have observed this as being a result of adapting for rapid studio growth while ensuring the standards of one of the largest franchises in the industry are being met--it can be overwhelming at times. -Working with an elite team that has high standards can be challenging. Those who work here need to be open to feedback and able to work at a rapid pace.

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      4 people found this review helpful
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