Sony Online Entertainment Reviews | Glassdoor

Sony Online Entertainment Reviews

Updated May 2, 2017
92 reviews

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

  • Prior to the layoffs there was not much crunch time and work/life balance was well rounded (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)

    "SOE opened up many doors but"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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.


  2. "Overall, a great experience."

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

    I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    The bottom line for upper management is to make good games, retain people over the long haul and provide them with a good way to make a living. They try to make it a fun place to work, and encourage life balance. Yes, making money is important to them, but money is a means to an end. They are loyal to employees as much as practicality will allow. They don't lay people off unless they have to.

    Cons

    The company has been struggling over the last few years. The games are often too confusing and complex for the general public. The last couple of games were very expensive and did not do as well as expected. They haven't found a way to make a good profit under the new free-to-play business model. Company morale is currently low.

  3. Helpful (10)

    "An overly complacent culture satisfied with mediocrity detached from the rest of the game development community."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Programmer in San Diego, CA
    Former Employee - Programmer in San Diego, CA
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Good compensation, benefits, and some great, talented people if you know where to find them. Crunch times are rare. If you're very motivated, you might find opportunities to really improve technology. The underlying technology behind client-server communications works quite well. San Diego is a beautiful city.

    Cons

    There seems to be a prevailing culture that is content with relative mediocrity. Mediocre visual presentation quality, long loading times, poor frame rates, and frequent seconds long hitches and stalls are the norm here. There are technical reasons for these issues that are lost on the majority of the engineers who work there. Those engineers that bring invaluable experience from other game studios that produce far superior titles face an uphill battle as they attempt to explain how things can and should work better to technical leads. Some tech leads in particular are highly intelligent software engineers, but would be better suited to lead work on non gaming applications while they have little to no experience working at other game studios, and on top of it all, don't seem to even enjoy playing games very much, especially the competition. Micromanagement is often a big issue as well, and finding support when you really need it from tech leads is very challenging as they are spread too thin managing everybody else. Be prepared to be chastised for writing code that isn't compliant to an arbitrary personal standard even if it's highly legible, works flawlessly, and all but impossible to break.

    Effective developer tools are largely non-existent here. Other engineers have an air or arrogance when it comes to realizing the importance of good tools as they seem to think that they are the ones that make the games and fail to support the real hands-on developers: designers and artists. There's a real failure to realize that good tools means faster development time, and faster development time also means superior quality of output since motivation can remain high.

    Negative cash flow year after year with routine mass layoffs make company longevity outlook pessimistic. SOE employs hundreds of people, and despite working there for years, I have no idea who most of them are, and always wondered why despite there being so many people getting paid, the quality of work is abysmally low overall.

    Advice to Management

    Start completely over. Throw all the current crappy in-house developer tools away and make new ones. There are employees that are highly motivated to make great things happen. Find them and offer more incentive to succeed. Tech leads stop micromanaging engineers, and allow them to lead themselves as experts in their own specialties. Designate experts in all fields: graphics, animation, physics, sound, tools, and delegate supporting roles toward them rather than trying to be the point-man for everything.


  4. Helpful (7)

    "You won't learn much, but at least it's a game job in San Diego"

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

    Pros

    At least it's a fairly stable job that allows you to enjoy living in San Diego
    It's game development, so that's always a little more fun and laid back than other companies

    Cons

    No one in upper management had a prior job where they learned first hand how to build and run a great organization.
    The level you come in as is the level you're going to stay … forever.
    There is a core circle of friends of the president, and then there's everyone else. Keep your opinions to yourself and just accept what you're asked to do.

    Advice to Management

    Replace yourselves with people who know how to build a successful company, not just one that manages to survive.


  5. Helpful (7)

    "Reactionary circle jerk while looking to recapture faded glory"

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

    I worked at Sony Online Entertainment (More than a year)

    Pros

    - Some very smart engineers who have creative ideas.
    - Benefits package is very good
    - Filled with passionate gamers who are dying for a successful game
    - Week off of Christmas without counting as PTO
    - Lots of people in mid to lower levels that are pushing to make break thru changes

    Cons

    - They make games that are just not fun, with no long-term sustainability other than a very small niche group.
    - Weak marketing campaigns, and very low budget to do it on. Recycled ideas that show little originality. But are probably stuck there by low budgets for poorly performing games.
    - Sweep under the rug or spin poor results of promotions, campaigns, game launches, etc... without ever holding anyone accountable.
    - Finally starting to pay attention to analytics that other companies have recognized for years.
    - Struggling to find a hit game caused them to reach to purchase some truly awful games (Bullet Run, Wizardry, Dragons Prophet) which are a waste of everyone's time.
    - Way behind on technology for making and supporting games. A few key people in love with stuff they dreamed up as a "standard" that all games must use, but in reality is a poor excuse for what a modern tool or language or open-source standard could do for them.
    - Cut QA teams so much that we can't do our job to the level we all want. Very little investment in tools or processes to make this aspect of the company better.
    - All teams are on a shoe-string budget, so very little hiring to bring in help, reserves, or fresh blood. (Not sure but there seemed to only be one System Administrator in the whole company due to people leaving or getting layed off). Requests for work took a long time to get completed as the tech folks were always waiting on getting a server or support to work through legacy processes.
    - Working with teams that say they are using "Agile" processes is frustrating. Compared to what other companies do to adhere to Agile, SOE just uses a term that allows management, Smed, or marketing, or seemingly anyone to throw more tasks (with very little requirements) into the "sprint". This caused delays, or frustrations. Sometimes a key part of the system being built would be completely dropped, but not because of priorities, but because necessary requirements were changed so many times that no one knew what they were trying to build. By the time it reached QA no one was able to tell us what it was we were supposed to test in detail.
    - Bonuses are always a small fraction of what was promised as the games are not making the money they need to support the company.
    - Rarely seem to finish strategic initiatives to allow future advances on game support or underlying technology.
    - People that have innovative ideas that embrace new technologies, and who stand up to the "SOE lifers" that are protecting their archaic ways are often marginalized, let go, or back-stabbed to the point they become ineffective.

    Advice to Management

    Might be time to bring in some new senior people for game design, tech, and marketing departments. Long playing MMOs are out of style when they have no objective but to keep grinding. Consoles and mobile games with clear objectives are where the industry is heading. No one on staff (left) has any knowledge of this.
    Lots of good people are endless frustrated by the over-promises, and failure to deliver on anything.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Awesome culture, but at a cost"

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

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

    Pros

    Very laid back. Dress-code, environment, work hours, etc.

    Cons

    Struggling company, light on salaries, bonuses, raises, company events, etc.


  7. Helpful (4)

    "Talented developers, but horribly crippled development process out of their control."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Programmer in Austin, TX
    Former Employee - Programmer in Austin, TX
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Awesome kitchen, great HR and IT departments, and enough monitors for everyone to have three or four. The company is also not afraid to spend money on team events every few months, or for cake and beer after shipping a DLC.

    Cons

    Upper management is too far removed from the actual development process to understand its huge flaws. Developers are consistently forced to martyr themselves with a substandard tool set, horrendous build process, old hardware, and an unstable code base. Some departments are forced to do this with an insufficient amount of people, causing them to have to pull the weight of multiple people while still coping with all of the above. More work and projects doesn't mean more people or more forgiving deadlines, it just means more work.

    Advice to Management

    Understand the flaws in your development process and actually use some resources to fix them. I understand that it doesn't directly generate revenue, but it would go a long way for the quality of the product, not to mention employee retention rate. Movies, cake and monitors are great, and they are appreciated, but they make it only marginally less difficult to deal with the same problems day after day, with no upper management willing to allocate resources to fix them. It's a far greater motivator for people to stay if they can actually enjoy the work they are doing, and be excited about the project. But they can't do that when the development process is terrible, and they are constantly forced to ship substandard quality work even after torturing themselves trying to make it work in their favor.

  8. Helpful (5)

    "Company needs improvement"

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

    I worked at Sony Online Entertainment full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Prior to the layoffs there was not much crunch time and work/life balance was well rounded.

    Cons

    At SOE, dialog was focused on results, structural reasons for results, external market reasons for results, any reason for results that did not require an understanding or accountability for what is really going on internally with employees and effective management within the company. There is a lack of emotional intelligence to be honest about what is really going on. SOE has a management issue and it starts by nobody wanting to even talk about it. Because emotional intelligence lacks among top leadership, the problem proliferates at all levels of the organization. There are great people that can’t express themselves, can’t contribute to their potential because questioning the “reality” is not within the company’s culture. Because of this, SOE does not take the risks they need to take to be great, at any level.

    Advice to Management

    Take more responsibility for your actions.


  9. "Working hard to ship award winning games and satisfy our dedicated fans"

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

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

    Pros

    Great compensation and benefits, great co-workers, great games, and great fans.

    Cons

    Some times crunch is excessive.

    Advice to Management

    Keep an eye on the work life balance and long term goals.


  10. Helpful (7)

    "Avoid, Avoid, Avoid"

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

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

    Pros

    Typically the hours don't crunch very much and the day-to-day work/life balance is even.

    Cons

    This company is riddled with people who have simply given up, or newbs being trained by beaten down has-been's. It's like a retirement home for developers who once cared about making great games. It is truly uninspiring to work in this atmosphere and it most definitely shows in the games that SOE produces (Even though upper management and Smed say that they're so amazing..yea (cough) sure). You will probably move up in the company if you "play ball" (aka: kiss ass, keep your mouth shut, and don't rock the boat), and in doing so you're basically selling out to a corporate/political force that is very much present. The management is the most incompetent I've ever seen, they allow employees to get away with unacceptably low standards of quality and effort and never take action on anyone or anything even though it's obvious that they should. Most people who work here have families so they are simply not willing to open their mouths, send that email, or ask that question that NEEDS TO BE ASKED/DONE. Everyone has given up and it is NOT the place to be if you are interested in making great games. I didn't feel lucky to work at SOE in any sense and quite frankly felt as though I took many steps backwards in my career.

    Advice to Management

    Fire yourselves.


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