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Sony Online Entertainment Reviews

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Current Employees

2.6
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Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley
John Smedley
29 Ratings

36 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Lots of great people and artists at the company (in 9 reviews)

  • Typically the hours don't crunch very much and the day-to-day work/life balance is even (in 5 reviews)

Cons
  • Incredibly over-extended use of crunch time showed massive oversights by managers in assessing scope, staff and scheduling time and time again (in 4 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (4)

    "It was fun until it wasn't."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Programmer in San Diego, CA
    Current Employee - Programmer in San Diego, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Coworkers are awesome. Creative fun people trying to make good games.
    Relaxed dress code
    "Fun" atmosphere.
    It's game development, which has a certain aura about it

    Cons

    Company just changed owners. The future is murky.
    Compensation is below industry average.
    Projects are often over-promised and under-delivered.
    Mandatory crunch fairly often, "voluntary" crunch even more so.
    The company seems to have been rudderless for a while, drifting in various directions while trying to look good to perspective buyers.
    There is no comprehensive company plan. Large projects constantly shift direction, rendering existing work irrelevant.
    Having just been purchased by Columbus Nova, benefits are up for review. There is every indication they will be lower quality than before.

    Advice to Management

    Your people are your most important asset. The rank and file make that company run. Treat them with respect. Keep them informed of changes, especially under the new ownership. Also, better facilities and coffee.


  2. Helpful (5)

    "SOE-now Daybreak Games"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Contractor - QA Tester in San Diego, CA
    Current Contractor - QA Tester in San Diego, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment as a contractor (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    San Diego is a great city. Many times there was very little work so we just browsed the web or did whatever. The work is usually pretty easy and the environment was pretty relaxed. They did have great people working for them and I was lucky to learn from them.

    Cons

    Most employees are temps, even after years of working there. Salaries are way below industry standards. There is no job security. I was laid off twice in 3 years. Management is really bad and mostly apathetic. You are encouraged to "stay in your place." There is almost no chance for advancement. The game ideas and general direction of the company were decided by incompetent fools, at best.

    Advice to Management

    They need management to be people who actually know and care about video games. All of marketing is terrible. They have absolutely no idea what they are doing. They don't know the products and their target market. Most of their marketing stunts are total failures and quite embarrassing to the rest of the company.

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Good People, Long Hours, Decent Work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - QA Tester in San Diego, CA
    Current Employee - QA Tester in San Diego, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great people who are very passionate, close-knit groups, and generally willing to share information within the company if asked.

    Cons

    Long hours, upper management can seem out of touch, scheduling can be a mess.

    Advice to Management

    Try to avoid last-minute scheduling that results in calling people in only to find they can't do their job because they're waiting on other teams that aren't coming in that day.


  4. Helpful (4)

    "Great work environment; no room for advancement"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - QA Tester in San Diego, CA
    Current Employee - QA Tester in San Diego, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Work environment is incredibly friendly

    Cons

    No room for growth within the company
    Pay is very poor
    Very top heavy

    Advice to Management

    Hearing that I'll never get a pay increase in my first week is very rough to hear.


  5. Helpful (6)

    "Nice People Who Are Too Accepting Of Mediocrity And Nepotism"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in San Diego, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in San Diego, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The expectations are very low and you'll often be play testing games. Most people are very nice.

    Cons

    Game team leadership has an abundance of arrogance and elitism.
    Game teams hire their friends and ignore talent from other departments.
    Compensation is well below market.
    No stock options or grants.
    No opportunity for advancement (no one is let go for poor performance).
    It's easy to pick up bad habits as management resists change.
    With little to no coding standards, the game code is a mess.
    The company is continuing to downsize as players leave EQ and EQII.
    Significant use of contractors.

    Advice to Management

    Eliminate under performers and promote those who excel.
    Develop a company wide coding standard and enforce it.
    Bring back the internship program, particularly for designers and developers.
    Stop over promising to customers.
    Substantially raise hiring standards and compensation.


  6. Helpful (8)

    "Get out as soon as you get on a development team."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Game Designer in San Diego, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Game Designer in San Diego, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    - Good place to get your start in the industry.
          Promotions from QA & CS are common. If you bump into Smedley (current CEO) in the street and say something that amuses him, he may also hire you without any previous game/development/tech experience.

     - Impossible to get fired.
          It doesn't matter if you don't actually do anything, you can keep your job indefinitely, especially if you're a programmer. See: Cons

     - There are several brewery tasting rooms nearby.
          They're within walking distance so you can drown your sorrows before, during, or after work.

    Cons

    - Complete incompetence of management.
          The people steering the ship have no idea what they're doing. Nobody in charge has made a successful game this century. They also refuse to listen to the few experienced individuals who they have managed to hire.

    - Inexperienced staff.
          Since there is such a prevalence of individuals that have been promoted out of QA/CS/the street, the vast majority of people have only ever worked in game development at SOE. In several areas (particularly production) it's a case of the blind leading the blind. Nobody receives the training necessary to KNOW how to do their job properly.

     - Low turnover.
          The ratio of useful employees to useless ones skews heavily toward the latter. In addition to being plagued with inexperienced staff, most development teams have staff that either doesn't actually work, or are just straight up bad at their job. There is no personal responsibility or discipline taken against employees who continually fail to deliver. Bad employees are never let go as Smedley (and therefor all of upper management) sees the company not as a business, but as a family. Having a family is great, but this one is full of siblings you wish you could disown.

     - Too much value placed on programmers.
          In reality, they're the easiest to replace as most positions in this discipline can be recruited from outside the games industry. In every round of layoffs that the company has had, the programming department is always the least affected (often not at all affected), leading to an abundance of programmers who have no reason to fear losing their jobs and continue to underperform.

     - Unclear pipelines & muddy communication.
          The flow of information between disciplines is terrible. This is mostly due to inexperienced production staff, but is also affected by middle management never having been exposed to a functional work environment.

     - Poor games.
          It should go without saying, but all of the above is what contributes to the overall fact that the quality of games being created by SOE is terrible. The budgets are AAA, but the results are worse than most dedicated hobbyists could pull off. The structure that supports SOE allows it to create MMOs, which is the only thing that makes this company unique. This genre is dying and in need of some large changes to revitalize it, unfortunately I don't think the current incarnation of SOE is capable of doing that.

    Advice to Management

    - Complete any projects that have direction and achievable goals with positive outlook
          - Planetside on PS4
          - DCUO expansion
          - EQ & EQ2 expansions
     - Cancel everything else
          - EQ Next
          - Landmark
          - H1Z1
     - Remove C-level staff
     - Remove Franchise Directors
     - Lay off vast majority of programming staff
          - Ask senior programmers who is worth keeping
     - Ask remaining programmers, artists, designers and producers who actually WANTS to stay
          - The number is so low it may shock you
     - Change the name of the company
     - Recruit competent C-level employees
     - Restaff back up to 25% or less of the original headcount
          - Being far more selective and only hiring quality employees
     - During this restructuring time period, use the talent on hand to enter preproduction
          - A hand full of small (MMO/non-MMO & mobile) titles
          - Evaluate all projects and only enter production on few
          - Ensure reasonable scope, given this simple formula
                - cost = time * headcount


  7. "Great company to work with a little bit disorganized on the payments."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Contractor - 3D Artist I in San Diego, CA
    Current Contractor - 3D Artist I in San Diego, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment as a contractor (Less than a year)

    Pros

    You get to work on cool projects. They were very willing to accommodate my needs to work from home. Art team was really nice and helpful.

    Cons

    I am working as contractor for them. I don't know if that is the reason but my payments are almost always late and I have to keep reminding the accounting department to pay me.

    Advice to Management

    The only advice for me would be to keep an eye out on their accounting department.

  8. Helpful (4)

    "Okay start, but don't stick around"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Game Designer in San Diego, CA
    Current Employee - Game Designer in San Diego, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    It's pretty easy to get an entry level job
    You have a decent chance of getting an apprenticeship for code/design/art/sound
    It's pretty laid back

    Cons

    Management has absolutely no clue who's good and who's bad
    Takes forever to get promoted, if you do
    Nepotism rules all, so playing politics is better than being good at your job
    Be ready to be micromanaged to the teeth

    Advice to Management

    Find some way to figure out how to judge your employees properly. Nobody likes to see someone with less experience and less talent get promoted while they are stuck stagnant because someone doesn't like them for whatever reason.

    Remove the nepotism and judge based on performance.


  9. Helpful (5)

    "Good start, but probably nowhere you'd want to stay."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - QA Tester in San Diego, CA
    Current Employee - QA Tester in San Diego, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time

    Pros

    SOE is a good start to the gaming industry through their internship programs. They also seem to keep their contract workers and hire them on full-time. They provide decent project completion bonuses for the big ones, and direct management cares about their workers.

    Cons

    Certain pet projects of upper management wind up having fairly significant changes demanded left and right - even on a friday afternoon the weekend before a beta launch. There seems to be a consensus among some employees that upper management makes very questionable decisions, particularly in regards to priorities. Too often, there would be a demand for a feature that imposed significant code change which would put the project months off schedule, and yet we'd be expected to somehow keep the schedule regardless.

    Advice to Management

    Make the marketing department talk to developers and qa before they announce upcoming features and release dates. Some features they think aren't much require significant code change and provide a long stressful hassle for the development and qa teams that could be avoided, or at least improved, by better communication.


  10. Helpful (4)

    "SOE opened up many doors but"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Billing and Technical Customer Support in San Diego, CA
    Current Employee - Billing and Technical Customer Support in San Diego, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Swag, Perks, E3 and Fan Faire

    Cons

    Launch Days, Upper Management and lack of a decent break room.

    Advice to Management

    For starters it helps to know your employee’s by first name or last instead of referring to them by the project they worked on Smed. Also it seems a lot of people at SOE made promise they never intended to keep from games credits to future job openings.


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