Voltage Entertainment USA Reviews | Glassdoor

Voltage Entertainment USA Reviews

Updated April 5, 2019
17 reviews

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2.3
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Voltage Entertainment USA CEO and CCO Yuzi Tsutani
Yuzi Tsutani
2 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (4)

    "Great environment full of passionate people doing what they love"

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

    I have been working at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    -Employees who are passionate about their projects and genuinely want our company to succeed.

    -Open minded work place with a comfortable, casual feel.

    -A dream job for those who are looking to work on otome/dating games in the United States. There is also hints of Japanese culture around the company since our home branch is Japanese.

    -Management is extremely transparent on the status of the company. We have a company meeting every month in order to keep everyone updated of the status of the company. Questions are encouraged on a public or private platform. It's up to the employees to ask them.

    -Very convenient location downtown. Only a couple of blocks away from the nearest public commute

    -For new employees management likes to grow them and play to their strengths and interests.

    Cons

    -We need to standardized pipelines of how we ship out our titles and amalgamate the separate teams (production and art) and are currently in the process of doing so

    -Sometimes too much transparency may cause distress to those on the floor unwilling to ask questions and cause people to come to their own conclusions of the current state of the company based on the basic information that was given. DON'T be the person who doesn't ask for more information. Private meetings with management (or those who act as a medium) is always an option.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to keep an open mind of team restructuring and introducing hierarchies in the mix. Continue to move forward in bringing the separate departments and teams in the company together so we can ship even stronger more cohesive products. Continue being that opened forum that allows employees to ask questions in public or private in order to clarify current events.

    We are always improving how we do things and as someone on the floor I get the feeling management genuinely cares about their employees and wish to encourage a happy work environment.


  2. Helpful (8)

    "Hanging by a thread"

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

    I worked at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - Friendly and hardworking co-workers
    - Opportunities for creative freedom in the stories we tell
    - Monthly commute stipend
    - Monthly company lunches

    Cons

    - Toxic management. Repeated manipulative tactics.

    - Management turns a blind eye to issues in the company. If you speak up your opinions are dismissed.

    - About a quarter of the company resigned in weeks. That speaks for itself.

    - Pay is below average.

    - No room for growth.

    - Nearly zero presence from Japan side. Their private offices in SF are collecting dust.

    - Many of the strong employees that cared about the work have quit, and now there is little left to salvage.

    Advice to Management

    - Show trust, honest communication, and transparency.
    - Don't write 5 star reviews on glassdoor pretending to be someone on the floor

  3. Helpful (6)

    "Refusal to Fix Mistakes Leading to Inevitable Closure"

    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
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - Health care is comprehensive, albeit a little difficult to navigate at first.
    - Employees under management level are talented and hard-working.
    - Office is easy to commute to.

    Cons

    - Compensation is significantly under market level. Raises are difficult to negotiate and bonuses were basically nonexistant until the past year.
    - Vertical and lateral movement is limited and difficult to negotiate, and resources for growth are minimal. The only way up is out.
    - HR has no power to handle situations, which is in no part their fault. Expect HR violations and complaints to go unresolved.
    - Employees are shamed for taking time off for valid reasons such as maternity leave and health concerns.
    - The source of all these issues above is management. To call them toxic would be a gross understatement. Management is inept, actively hostile and manipulative towards employees, and has made no steps to correct mistakes. They are sabotaging the company, which has resulted in the departure of a majority of their veteran game devs and loss of profit.
    Here are some of their greatest hits:
    - Hiring experts in the field then completely disregarding their suggestions and making decisions based on emotions rather than data. When their ideas fail, they immediately turn around and blame the experts.
    - Sowed discord throughout teams by spreading false rumors and pitting employees against each other. When confronted with this, management blamed the employees for being "toxic" and encouraged everyone to "be more positive!"
    - A trend of trying to bully employees into quitting. Employees would be set up for failure by management by either throttling resources, creating impossible goals/deadlines, or giving them tasks outside of their job description and training.
    In good conscience, I cannot recommend anyone to apply to Voltage. Management has created an unsafe workplace and has made no efforts to change it. For your mental and physical health, look anywhere else.

    Advice to Management

    Find better managers. Learn how to critically think and analyze data to turn a profit. Address HR issues instead of brushing them off.


  4. Helpful (8)

    "Romance Games Missing Heart"

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

    I worked at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    -Diverse, woman-positive floor teams
    -Fun content
    -Japanese influences
    -Introduction of annual and Christmas bonuses
    -Employee of the Quarter recognition

    Cons

    -Lack of diversity in non-floor-team positions
    -Negative push to have teams compete. Small team size means this brings everyone down when everyone could cooperate and grow together
    -Little to no transparent communication
    -Little to no room for growth
    -Below average pay for the region
    -Lack of cooperation and understanding for flex hours, employees with children or special circumstances
    -Recent lack of passion, understanding, and desire to continue on making the best romance games on the market
    -Excessive overtime expected to move up career ladder

    Advice to Management

    What sets this company apart is the clear care for the content. If that continues to become less and less of a priority in hiring, there will be nothing left to sell.


  5. Helpful (2)

    "Fun working environment!"

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

    I have been working at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time

    Pros

    Super fun company to work at! Co-workers are all very friendly and are there to support you if you need any help. As a localization producer there are many opportunities to learn about not just localization but also project management, KPI analysis, cross-cultural communication, and more. The overall culture of the company is a unique fusion between American and Japanese culture. While not perfect, the company is constantly striving to improve and bring out the best of both cultures.

    Cons

    Sometimes it can be difficult to communicate with management at the Tokyo headquarters due to differences in culture and ways of thinking.

    Advice to Management

    Be more open-minded to new ideas and strategies. Do more research on competitors and trends in the US game industry.


  6. Helpful (17)

    "Avoid this company; it is on an inevitable road to failure"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Lead Software Engineer in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Lead Software Engineer in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    - Laid back atmosphere
    - Lots of exposure to Japanese culture, if that's your jam
    - It's a very small team, so you'll have a lot of input into the project
    - 100% health care coverage with no co-pays (only 50% spouse, though)
    - Despite all of the cons you will read below, I want to stress that most of the people that work here are good people; it's just an extremely dysfunctional company

    Cons

    - The founders (CEO and COO) are convinced that the formula for developing successful otome titles in Japan in the early aughts will work in the US with minor tweaks. Their first successes were on feature phones and early smart phones in a completely different culture and market, so this isn't very likely. They have tried almost a dozen titles without turning a profit but just keep plugging away with the same stale strategies.

    - The founders are checked out; they come in Tuesday-Thursday from 9-2. Rumor has it they are going to hire a Japanese GM and check out completely. Currently you can at least influence things by talking to them directly, if you can manage to get their attention for 5 minutes. After they are gone, this won't even be an option.

    - You have to punch in and out on a time clock like a factory worker!

    - Most employees are non-exempt, meaning you are an hourly worker! An exception has been made for new engineering hires at the SE level and above. Junior SEs are still hourly, however. Moreover, rather than paying a higher rate for being hourly, as is the norm in the rest of the industry, they pay substantially less. Except the native Japanese employees, who of course all get a nice fat salary.

    - If you aren't native Japanese, even if you speak the language fluently, there are major communication issues.

    - IP security is a joke; network security is a joke.

    - There is no IT staff onsite!!! Employees bug engineers for IT requests, who don't have time to fulfill them, and moreover the Japanese employees don't trust Americans, so the engineers don't even have access to critical systems like the DNS server, active directory server or firewall. The people they put in charge of IT are administrators with literally no qualifications for this responsibility, like HR managers (!), the financial officer (!!), and senior producers (!!!).

    - Despite the horrible security and lack of IT, they don't trust their employees so most people can't even install software on their computers; they disable all USB ports on PCs, so despite this being a mobile game company, you can't charge mobile devices or transfer data to them via your PC!!! Moreover, they block gmail (even though they use gmail accounts for internal accounts) for most, but not all employees. Producers, for example, are exempt for some reason. What's more, all of these kooky rules are completely inconsistent; everyone has a totally different set of permissions on their machine. It seems like there is no consistent installation image. They use a third-party Japanese-language IT contractor to set up people's machines.

    - Despite supposedly being concerned about security, they regularly use Skype, which has infected numerous laptops and PCs, and apparently the wifi router, with malware that creates MAC-address clones of MacOS, Windows, iOS and Android devices connected to the router. They refuse to stop using it despite numerous warnings from Engineering and at least one laptop's adapter settings being corrupted so badly that it no longer has a valid MAC address.

    - Because most employees are paid so little, no one wants to go anywhere decent to eat, despite the amazing food all around the location of the office.

    - Because of the hourly pay structure, most people put in the least amount of effort possible and clock out promptly at 6, leaving necessary work undone. Then a handful of schemers stretch out their time to rake in overtime. A handful of people actually work legitimate overtime.

    - Meetings are regularly scheduled during lunch hours, which for some reason aren't typically until 1:30-2! So you may end up eating lunch at 3 some days.

    - The production team isn't very effective. I can't go into detail without violating Glassdoor's review guidelines.

    - The company is incredibly cheap. They outsource even the core artifacts of the their product - art and writing - to cheap student contractors, resulting in extremely poor quality and product delays. This also means they hire inexperienced workers. Again I can't go into detail due to Glassdoor's stringent guidelines.

    - Most of the company has no clue about how game development works. As a result, some employees have on a particular teams have to constantly * teach * other departments how to do things, all the while trying to translate it into the Japanese language and culture and the unique business customs of this weird little company. The communication is not usually very effective, so it's like pulling teeth.

    - The company is leashed to a parent company in Japan from which the founders made their millions; it has about 700-800 employees, I believe. Unfortunately, the parent company looks down their noses at the US office and is the opposite of helpful in all dealings; the founders themselves even acknowledge as much. They also have a ridiculously incompetent engineering team (in Ebisu) that doesn't seem to understand how to make a modern mobile game. The US engineering team had to build everything from scratch because the tech stack was so outdated; had to fight to get keys to the server room to manage and install additional, development server infrastructure; struggle to make the case for dedicated bare-metal hosting in NA instead of Japan; explain TDD; explain continuous integration and continuous deployment, et cetera, et cetera... there are too many engineering snafus from Japan to list.

    - The company has no idea about the Silicon Valley engineering market or how to hire and retain engineers.

    There are actually many more cons that I could list here, but I've already written a book. Bottom line: stay away, no matter how desperate you are for a job. This company is doomed.

    Advice to Management

    Shut down everything but the localization team and throw in the towel; quit while you're ahead.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "Multi-Cultural Office with Awesome People"

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

    I have been working at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    -Co-workers are great!
    -Compensation is fair and equal
    -Time-off, Medical/Dental insurance, Overtime pay is good
    -Chance to learn a variety of skills, and wear a variety of hats

    Cons

    -Work-life balance needs improvement, frequent overtime, late hours
    -Sometimes it feels like you are asked to wear too many hats to excel at any
    -Sitting, all day, in front of a screen

    Advice to Management

    -Work hours could be reworked so that needing to work late for overseas communication would be balanced by later mornings.

  8. Helpful (2)

    "Getting better!!!! 3.3 stars."

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

    I have been working at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time

    Pros

    Monthly or bi-monthly lunch, holiday parties, launch lunches (sometimes) with fully paid transportation. Pretty good healthcare, and PTO. Great coworkers.

    There is a much friendlier atmosphere than when I first came here. The people who were not able to overcome the differences between the US and Japan are now almost all gone from our side. Yes, since the other reviews, we have a good time while being productive. Or try to be productive that is.

    Now we have locally hired engineers, another awesome game artist, and marketing too! I see there is an effort to make better titles that does not stick to the strict guidelines of the parent company in Japan. I think the COO is now more open to suggestions, which made the new hires possible. It might be from being cornered with the lack of success with the Japanese management and game style, but great either way.

    US producers are hard working and super, and they keep the cheer going for the rest of us.

    Cons

    It's like the COO is still a little less then half way in her bubble. I can tell she really cares and does her best for us, but I think there are good days and bad. Not sure what the CEO does, as he is frequently out of the office. They both still stick a lot to Japanese strategies, but it may be because it is the only thing they know? They are learning, but sometimes it feels like we still produce cassette tapes in this age of iPods.

    People are sent in from Japan as advisors and producers. Instead of admitting they do not know what they are doing, they try to act superior instead of working with us. They show no leadership, drive or direction and are creepy quiet tapping on their PCs most of the time. Not rarely, but they talk Japanese and diss the US hires.

    On the US side, there are still some vocal individuals that keep bringing back really old things again and again and again that was either Japan's mistake or changes they did not like themselves personally. It makes me feel nervous and negative and I keep praying HR will step up because it's annoying and counter productive.

    The best producer we have is misplaced in another department that does not deal with the big picture of the company in the US. I feel many of us think that he can really fix things.

    Advice to Management

    ☆Get the producer back!!

    ☆Improvements take so long.

    ☆Unnecessary meetings. It's a medium office, why do two long monthly meetings with similar subjects?

    ☆More quality hires. There are some who do way more than others. Why keep slackers that go home while OT for others?

    ☆Try new things. Don't discuss it for months and decide to do things when it's too late?

    ☆Stop the Japanese only closed door meetings. I understand if absolutely necessary.

    ☆Communicate better. Some things are decided on above meetings, and they assume we know resulting in last minute panic changes.


  9. Helpful (6)

    "Toxic"

    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

    I worked at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Working hours are strictly 9 to 6, no more and no less. However...

    Cons

    ...management and HR put up quite a fuss if/when you need to work overtime, even if it's to meet an unreasonable deadline that they set and refuse to push back.

    More pressing issues:

    • The general disposition of the company and its lack of respect and trust for its employees. Senior management can often be observed staring off into space, rolling their eyes, mumbling under their breath in Japanese, or outright laughing in people's faces when being spoken to — even in formal meetings.

    • Unresponsive, at times combative, HR. For example, when certain concerns about payroll were brought to their attention, HR said they knew the company practices were illegal, but they would continue with the practices per the CEO.

    • Hostile work environment, including but not limited to gender and ethnic discrimination and harassment, that pits coworkers against one another and breeds distrust. Most disturbingly, management and HR have been implicit in many of these indiscretions.

    • Unethical conduct and management-subordinate relationships, leading to overall morale-lowering perceptions of favoritism. Again, management and HR were aware / implicit.

    • Failure to acknowledge the obvious differences between business in Japan and business in the States. The company further insulates itself by only consulting with Japanese companies (from ad agencies to law firms to IT).

    • Outdated technology. Zero awareness of best practices and proper documentation in all departments.

    • Endless contradictory practices: Voltage opened an American office and presumably hired Americans for our perspective and expertise concerning breaking into the American market — but completely ignores any input from us, even as our products fail miserably. We are told flat-out that our "opinions don't matter" — yet we are pulled into countless meetings in which we are directed to present... our opinions on how to improve the company and products. The CEO has final say over ALL decisions (even the most trivial) — but we are blamed for the failures that are a direct result of his decisions. Productive employees who care enough to point out issues and suggest solutions are reprimanded for being "negative" — while those who sit back quietly collecting a paycheck are rewarded with light workloads and lax deadlines.

    Advice to Management

    To paraphrase another review — the only people okay with working at Voltage are the people who aren't actually working. They're pushing work off onto others and collecting a paycheck.


  10. Helpful (4)

    "To be completely honest..."

    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

    I worked at Voltage Entertainment USA full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Transportation compensation.
    People are nice, on an individual basis.

    Cons

    The people in this office are completely uncooperative. Most of them have never had a real job or worked in the game industry, therefore, all the horn tooting about so-called "expertise" are hyperbolic at best. The toxic atmosphere is intensified because those with the bad attitudes tend to influence one another and exponentially exacerbate the discontent felt throughout the office.
    Upper management, AKA, CEO and COO really do have micro-management issues. They really don't have any idea why the company is doing so poorly because they do not take time to investigate the foundation of the problem (lack of research, lack of quality hires, lack of leadership, etc etc.) However, they are not the only problem.
    Hiring process needs to be re-evaluated because they keep hiring problematic workers. Their unwillingness to fire people who contribute to the unhealthy environment only highlights the difference in culture between Japan and America.
    Jobs need to be more clearly defined. I understand being a start up that people are expected to do a little bit of everything, but the imbalance of work between people in the company is ridiculous.

    Advice to Management

    Re-evaluate hiring process.
    Invest in quality employees.
    Invest in quality products over quantity of products.
    Too many pointless meetings that go nowhere.
    Please send someone who understands the nuance of the English language as a middle-manager, the current middle-managers do not understand how local employees mock them on a daily basis. It's honestly depressing to witness the abuse they go through sometimes.