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Treyarch Reviews

Updated July 9, 2017
46 reviews

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3.9
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Treyarch Studio Head Mark Lamla
Mark Lamla
24 Ratings

46 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Considering how big and important Call of Duty is, I expected a more pressure-filled environment but the work environment is surprisingly relaxed (in 6 reviews)

  • Working on best known AAA title in the world (in 6 reviews)

Cons
  • we are the best call of duty company yet (in 5 reviews)

  • Treyarch does everything it can to mitigate the effects of crunch time, but there is still (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (1)

    "Pretty cool place"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior 3D Artist in Santa Monica, CA
    Former Employee - Senior 3D Artist in Santa Monica, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Treyarch full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    I created some of the best artwork of my career at Treyarch, and part of the reason for that was all the talented people I was surrounded by. Working at Treyarch was a career highlight for me for sure. Also, studio head Mark Lamia is one of the coolest and most inspiring "higher ups" I've ever met in my career.

    Cons

    I wouldn't say this is a "con" - but one does need to realize that COD is a multi billion dollar global franchise. And with that comes a certain level of corporate infrastructure, protocol, and priorities that can be potentially frustrating if not viewed from the right "bigger picture" perspective. But if you understand and can appreciate this sort of dynamic - both the challenges and the rewards - then working at Treyarch can be pretty damn amazing. My time there flew by.

    Advice to Management

    If I had advice for management, I probably wouldn't be posting it here. That seems kind of tacky and pointless.


  2. "Great and rewarding studio"

    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 Treyarch full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Working with incredibly talented and gifted people, across all departments and all levels. I've made incredibly close friends here. The people here is what makes this place great.
    The projects we work on are always ambitious and pushing for bigger and better then we've done before - all focused on how do we give our fans bigger and better experiences.
    There are tremendous opportunities for growth - as long as you are passionate, and PRO-ACTIVE.
    Financially rewarding and great benefits.
    Engineering and tools are pretty phenomenal. We typically get a lot of tools and tech support, allowing us to work as quickly as possible. Software and equipment always accommodated if it's needed.

    Cons

    It's definitely a hard place to work, and not a place for any industry professional. There have been some really aggressive crunch hours in the past, and I'm sure there will be more in the future. The trick is finding the right balance between what you do professionally and your personal life. The bottom line is most people here care more about making the best game they care over how much overtime is worked. Making the kind of games we make, on the kind of schedules we have, while always trying to out-do ourselves each time is tough.
    Definitely have to balance the time between quality and quantity when it comes to art and animation, to ensure the game play is the best it can be (game play is always the priority).
    Another downside - it's hard to publish your professional work on your personal portfolio. This seems like more of an Activision thing, rather than Treyarch itself. It's definitely possible to post your work that you've done here, but there's a process in place for it and a lot of red tape to get through before they allow you to post it.

    Advice to Management

    Overall, keep doing what you're doing. Every "difficult" project we get through, is usually followed by a new project where we learn our lessons and plan for those difficulties ahead of time. I just see this place continuing to get better and better.
    I do think a little more effort should be done on showing the world what kind of studio culture we have here. It's been observed by others that there's a giant "wall" around us with only negative things being heard about what's inside. I notice some facebook posts and some twitter feeds now and then - but rarely about how awesome the people are here and how much fun it is to work here.

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Great place"

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

    I have been working at Treyarch full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Treyarch has been like a second home to me. After more than 10 years here I can honestly say it is still the greatest place I have ever worked. While so many things have changed over those years, this place always adapts and evolves into an even stronger more exciting place to be. The people here are second to none, and I have built friendships that will last a lifetime.

    Cons

    The only con for me is the traffic to get from the valley to Santa Monica and back. The joys of the 405...


  4. Helpful (1)

    "Great Place To Work"

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

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

    Pros

    I've been at Treyarch for about 3 months now and cannot recommend it strongly enough. The studio has a very positive vibe. I've yet to meet anyone here who I have any friction with, which is amazing for a studio this size. Considering how big and important Call of Duty is, I expected a more pressure-filled environment but the work environment is surprisingly relaxed. Also, the financial success of the game means that the studio has the resources to really take care of employees. My salary is generous enough that moving to L.A. hasn't been financially scary. The relocation benefits made moving easier than any relocation I've had before (and I've had a few!). Everyone, right up to the Studio Head, is very approachable. And being located within walking distance of Activision HQ makes our relationship with our parent company close and productive. HR Department took great care of me from Day 1. So far, this is shaping up to be the best job I've ever had -- and I'm 50 so I've had a lot of work experiences before, both good and bad, to compare it to. Finally, the fact that the studio has such a successful track record and firm financial footing means that I'm not worried about the studio faltering, which is nice for a change! Oh, and Santa Monica is beautiful.

    Cons

    Every place has some downside, and I'm sure Treyarch must, too. I just honestly haven't encountered a Con yet at this place.


  5. Helpful (1)

    "Starting work at Treyarch"

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

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

    Pros

    A team of professional and seasoned game developers that have been doing what they do best for a very long time. Working on the number one shooter in the industry. Being part of a team where Art Direction is percieved and considered as high a priority as every other department.
    if you are a prospective employee as I was just 4 months ago, here is something that is worth knowing. I like you read the glass door comments on this company, which made me fearful to commit to signing the contract here. My experience is of a structured mature company, where strong process is in place to manage the unwieldy and sometimes daunting tasks that are involved in developing a Triple A video game. But this doesn't encumber the new guy, with fresh ideas or bringing something to the table. I had clear goals set out for me. Week one expectations, one month expectations, 3 month expectations, all in bite size chunks that made me feel comfortable in my new role in this huge organisation on an even bigger franchise. It's been the most organised and professional introduction to a company in the games industry that I've ever had, which allowed me to naturally grow in confidence rather than immediately reaching for the impact branch that can put developers under pressure.

    Cons

    no down sides yet, or on the horizon. Of course ship year will be be challenging , it should be in the entertainment industry. I've been developing games for 15 years and I've never worked on a title that I believed in that just cruised through final. If you want to make a great game, you will want to final strong.

    Advice to Management

    From what I've witnessed this game teams management is seasoned enough and confident enough to listen to the little guy. Keep doing that and we will continue to have a healthy happy crew.


  6. "The best game developer I had the pleasure to work for!"

    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 Treyarch full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    • Treyarch is a place where we work and play hard. When it's time to get serious and get work done we have the right ingredients to crack the most challenging problems. We do this with professionalism and a great desire to achieve perfection.

    • For those that leave a great mark on a project, there is often lucrative compensations depending on how the game was received. It's a great incentive, and it feels great that your manager looks at all your contributions when that time comes.

    • Treyarch IT and Operations department are proactive and try to serve you as much as they can. Sometimes they go out of their way to fulfil your requests.

    • Treyarch feels like an extended family to me, and I love coming to work to this place full of the top creatives in our industry.

    Cons

    • Although there are very few negative things I can things of about the Studio, We can get better at identifying potential risks that will end up in re-works or extended hours committing to clean up or changing direction. Sometimes we ignore the lessons of the past with the desire that it will work better this time around, and sometimes it just doesn't.

    Advice to Management

    • Management should pay a little more attention to the feedback of employees that have already gone through similar challenges to minimized repetition of same mistakes.


  7. "Challenging and rewarding"

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

    I have been working at Treyarch full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Great people who care about making the best game possible. Friendly and helpfull coworkers. Great benefits. Good pay and retention bonus.

    Cons

    Very often you work on things that are hardly worth it. A lot of resources are wasted this way. In the end there is a lot of crunch to make it up.

    Advice to Management

    We need all knowing leaders that will pick all the right things to work on and make a perfect game. In the mean time, we are doing pretty good though.

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Hard Working Passsionate People"

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

    I have been working at Treyarch full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Everyone at the studio is like family. Full of some of the most talented and passionate individuals in the industry.

    Cons

    It's good to push and challenge people, but scope is often grand and crunch is often inevitable.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to challenge your employees, but try to challenge yourselves to maintain livable hours and work life balance.


  9. Helpful (7)

    "Extreme Crunch Time, Poor Management, Not Open to Honest and Professional Discussion"

    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

    If you are early in your career and want an AAA title on your resume and ready to scarify your life, health, and relationship, go to this place.

    Cons

    - Extreme crunch time that never stop. I worked at this place for over two years. I saw cater dinner deliver every single night from Monday to Friday and lunch on Saturday. Sunday is not a guarantee for a meal, but it is more than half of my time there.

    - Brute force approach mentality prevails in this company to correct issues stem from poor decisions, processes, and tools. The majority of oldtimers and leads seem to be proud of how they scarify their lives to bandage these issues by brute force instead of having honest and intellectual discussion on how to fix them. They seemed to be all too beaten and abused physically and intellectually even to try fixing the root causes. You would think a studio which had shipped so many Call of Duty in over a decade would know how to make these samey games efficiently...

    - Management including directors, leads and producers do not react well nor want to hear best practices from other studios. They are hostile to people who think outside of the Treyarch box and learn from other teams and studios. You will quickly get blacklisted by the producers and creative leaders of the studio by simply saying honest and professional opinion.

    - Do not expect to get a good bonus here. The Call of Duty big bonus is no more. The cost for Treyarch to deliver a game every three years is too high. Not only Treyarch is unable to finish the game on its own, but it also had major help from other Activision studios and outsourced vendors. You have to question why a studio with 250+ persons and three years of time struggle so much to deliver another uninspired rehash called Black Ops 3.

    - This is an extremely cliquey studio. If you are friend with the leads, you can say whatever in your mind and criticize poor decisions and even demonstrate unprofessional behaviors. If you are not part of the clique, your career is already numbered.

    - Arrogant leadership that tries to end any suggestion of fixing bad processes, practices or tools by saying how the sale of Treyarch CoD somehow illogically justifies them.

    - Invisible Creative Leadership. Good luck if you will ever have a chance to talk to the true directors from above and try to understand the direction of the game. They "designed" and "directed" game strictly through an army of producers and their cliques.

    Advice to Management

    - Take your head out from the Treyarch bubble and look at how other teams and companies make great games without resorting to destroying people's lives and health.

    - Make your leadership people learn how to respect other's experience outside of Treyarch and engage in professional and intellectual discussion.

    - Make your creative leadership learn how to interact, motivate and direct the designers on the team instead of being a ghost that only communicates through producers or scribbles on screenshots.


  10. Helpful (1)

    "Professional and Talented Studio"

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

    Pros

    - Alot of veterans who have been with the company for a long time due to continued success. This has built a culture of trust in our processes and eachother as a team as we have proven our ability to deliver a top AAA blockbuster time after time.,
    - Ongoing attempts at improving company culture, processes, quality of life, and not to mention an awesome follow-up product.
    - Great retention bonus if you stay throughout a project and through following quarters
    - Great job stability and benefits as the COD franchise is extremely strong and the corporate environment is invested in maintaining key talent
    - Active company culture with co-workers engaging in a number of out-of-work activities such as sports, yoga, gaming, hobbies, and studio-hosted family and holiday events
    - Teams that have been working together and have a high degree of experience and refinement, our teams know what they are doing and have much to teach.
    - Company re-invests in its employees through management and communication training programs among other available resources for those motivated to use them.

    Cons

    - LA can be expensive but is workable. Takes some effort to find the right mix of affordability, comfort, and reasonable commute.
    - Senior+ titles can have much higher requirement thresholds than other studios, due to the senior staff. Upward mobility can be difficult, but is certainly possible either over time or if you really do have the exceptional skills to stand out and lead.
    - Ship-year typically is crunch. Not a death march, but steady 60 hour weeks, sometimes more depending on the individual or imminent deadlines.
    - It's a large public corporation along with everything that comes with it. Creativity is encouraged, but it is also a business with high profit motivation, deadlines, and a strong chain of command.

    Advice to Management

    - Continue trusting and investing in key successful employees who deliver the studio standard.
    - Consider fatigue as a "cost" that has real world effects on team quality->retention->product quality->financial cost.
    - Continue to communicate with employees to determine what they want and need to continue to stay happily employed with the Company.


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