Sledgehammer Games Reviews | Glassdoor

Sledgehammer Games Reviews

Updated December 24, 2018
56 reviews

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3.6
StarStarStarStarStar
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Aaron Halon
3 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • "Even though you will be working on Call of Duty at Sledge, don't let that be a negative" (in 17 reviews)

  • "Depending on your department, the work-life balance can be good" (in 4 reviews)

Cons
  • "Pay was poor considering the cost of living" (in 6 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 9 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Exciting work, great co-workers"

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

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

    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.

    Advice to Management

    Keep focusing on the employees and follow through on the commitments for positive change. Maintain a confident and positive outlook. With the recent changes, it had generated visible stress and frustration amongst the leaders. Confidence breeds confidence.

    Keep being transparent and approachable. Despite the changes, the team trusts that you will continue to push for positive change.


  2. "Change of leadership makes work better"

    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 Sledgehammer Games full-time (More than 3 years)

    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.

    Advice to Management

    Keep being transparent and open

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Changing for the better"

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

    I have been working at Sledgehammer Games full-time

    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.

    Advice to Management

    We need more ways to show employees that we are awesome. Even catered food trucks for lunch or little outings can help.

    Let's not pass the work when we don't have to.


  4. "The glory days are over."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Amazing studio
    Putting Call of Duty on the resume
    Some remaining talent are the best in the industry, those same people being also the nicest, most understanding and hardworking.

    Cons

    Non-competitive pay for the area.
    Bonuses are underwhelming.
    Studio is at the mercy of shadowy corporate direction.
    The drive and passion that drove the studio to great heights seems diminished.

    Advice to Management

    Take to heart what employees are saying.


  5. "Worst time to join - Run!"

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

    I have been working at Sledgehammer Games full-time

    Pros

    * You get to work on Call of Duty
    * The people that still work here are cool

    Cons

    * Everyone that knows how to make games quit
    * Non-Competitive Wages
    * Untrustworthy Leadership and HR
    * No direction toward future
    * No real studio management
    * No perks
    * Mass attrition
    * No real culture


  6. Helpful (11)

    "A Company in a Transitional Period"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    - Dev teams are made up of mostly good people that are passionate about making the best games possible

    - Studio has a culture of playtesting and sharing feedback

    - Learning opportunity to work with a large team on the biggest AAA franchise around

    - New studio head has more trust from people on the ground. There's a lot of work to do to reform studio culture, but I think he's pushing in the right directions.

    Cons

    - Industry low pay for the area, underwhelming bonuses

    - No company pride; people bond/gossip over their mistrust of HR/Recruiting/Leadership/Activision as there is little transparency. There is often a discrepancy between our stated company values and our daily practices.

    - Contract system is predatory. Many contract employees are strong contributors, but are kept on contracts for 1-2 years and then let go.

    - Staffing per department is inconsistent and teams generally run lean due to headcount limitations; some teams have very bad crunch while others have more manageable schedules. Crunch is never "mandatory" but it's pressured by the culture, which creates the same result.

    - Management has scoping issues, which caused us to ship a buggy game with broken features and damage the company reputation. Constant content updates create a myopic mentality of cramming in changes at the very last minute rather than focusing on stability.

    - Philosophy of downsizing after every project and reloading for the next game limits ability of company to retain talent in order to make the leap from making 80% games to 90% games.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "Four years at this place and no advancement"

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

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

    Pros

    Extremely nice coworkers, very family friendly, very supportive, decent bonuses every three years, stable job, emphasis on fair and healthy work environment, no racism or sexism or homophobia is tolerated

    Cons

    will under pay you if at all possible, it's rare/ well near impossible to get a promotion, loves to put people on contract and extend the contract for as long as possible without hiring permanently- this is stressful for both the contract employee and the other employees. As soon as someone is trained and you get used to them... they have to leave.

    Advice to Management

    Fix the promotions and the pay. We've lost so many seniors and will continue to lose them without attracting any back because the bay area is too expensive to pay so little. Please stop the endless contract cycle. It's very stressful to everyone involved.

  8. Helpful (3)

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

    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 Sledgehammer Games full-time

    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.

    Advice to Management

    Growth can be challenging. Empower your teams to be able to make decisions quickly while embracing what we learn through failure.


  9. Helpful (8)

    "Attitude is important"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at Sledgehammer Games full-time

    Pros

    -really talented and helpful individuals
    -you can propose an idea and it has potential to create an impact*
    -some disciplines have exceptional synergy between each other which makes a big difference in the development process
    -starting to actively pursue a more diverse workforce in terms of ethnicity and gender
    -free food, etc..
    -good employer sponsored health insurance.
    -hard work is recognized*

    Cons

    -teams are separated in a way that makes it more difficult to function as a single studio
    -too many management positions in some disciplines while not enough in others.
    -hard work is recognized but on management's terms. Your voice will be ignored if you give off the 'wrong' attitude.
    -Ego tends to get in the way of making the best decisions for a project.
    -Last minute decisions are often made due to general indecisiveness by management. this goes unpunished time and time again and as a result causes delayed deadlines and long term damage to team morale.
    -cost of living is insane, but this is more of a side effect of having a studio in the heart of the bay area.

    Advice to Management

    -Being confident of the team is important but don't let it get in the way if there are better ways of doing things that aren't necessarily 'home grown' .

    -Make a decision and stick with it. Period.

    -Don't prioritize studio image/presentation over the well being of employees. This is a development studio, not a showroom.

    -Stay involved in the development process for the entire duration of the project.

    -


  10. Helpful (13)

    "Negative culture driven by poor leadership."

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

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

    Pros

    - The work I get to do is often very fun and rewarding.

    - It's great getting to work on such a big franchise with so many fans.

    - People I worked with directly were friendly and do good work.

    - It feels like the company culture is slowly trending upward and improving.

    Cons

    - In my experience the higher up a person is at SHG the less pleasant they are to work with.

    - Top down "my way or the highway" attitude from upper management. They seem to prioritize their own feelings over the needs of employees below them and the studio as a whole.

    - Big talk of "door always open," "trust," and "diversity," but managements' actions convey the message that speaking up is discouraged and frowned upon, that they don't trust their employees, and that they just need a diverse group to check the boxes and use those minority groups to inflate the company's image of diversity.

    - HR feels like a puppet that is used by the studio heads to do their dirty work when shutting down employee complaints or frustrations.

    - Due to how a significant portion of the leadership behaves in manipulative or toxic ways, it trickles down the workforce making it seem like the only way to move up or stay with the company is to behave the same way. (It feels like this could be related to "bro culture")

    - It doesn't really feel like there is any way to grow at SHG. There's no one I feel I can look up to nor any position I can strive towards, and the general vibe at the studio is one of satisfaction with stagnating at the level one is at. No one seems really excited to grow or expect to have those opportunities (just grumbles from the people that aren't happy with that).

    - Overall it doesn't feel like a place where creativity and critical thinking can flourish.

    Advice to Management

    Improve at communicating in healthy ways as leaders. Listen to the concerns and frustrations of employees. Don't take criticism personally, but hear it, understand the message, and try to act on what they are saying to improve the studio. Encourage dialogue and discussion rather than create an air of mystery, confusion, and fear surrounding issues.

    If the studio truly lived up to all of the cultural pillars that it says it promotes then it would be a great place. However, as things currently are, the studio falls significantly short of those pillars.