Wizards of the Coast Reviews | Glassdoor

Wizards of the Coast Reviews

Updated April 9, 2018
134 reviews

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3.0
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Christian Cocks
19 Ratings

134 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Work life balance is good at this company with a lot of products given for free to all full time employees (in 28 reviews)

  • Half day Fridays are probably the best thing to say about working here (in 14 reviews)

Cons
  • Some of the middle management is poor and in need of further training or replacement (in 7 reviews)

  • I've loved Magic since I was a child, and working in R&D was a lifelong dream (in 6 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (1)

    "Great opportunities"

    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 Wizards of the Coast full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Great people. Great potential.

    Cons

    Sometime management micromanages. Stress can be high at times.

    Advice to Management

    Let your employees do their jobs. We are all professionals


  2. "People more than the company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Manager in Renton, WA
    Current Employee - Manager in Renton, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Wizards of the Coast full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Free product, amazingly smart and invested employees, fun work environment

    Cons

    Opportunities for raises and advancement aren't common, lots of direction shifts on a whim, sometimes hard to get great ideas pushed up to the top

    Advice to Management

    Listen to those with boots on the ground, it will save a lot of time and money later

  3. "Great place to work on games"

    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 Wizards of the Coast full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great team
    Interesting technical work
    Amazing IP
    Cool Perks

    Cons

    Standard game industry shortcomings: working a lot of hours to reach dead lines.


  4. "Great in design, tough in other depts"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Lead Game Designer in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Lead Game Designer in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Wizards of the Coast full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    - Open and collaborative approach to the work
    - Lots of opportunity to move around to other roles
    - Passionate gamers

    Cons

    - Inter-department communication is not a priority / often dropped, leading to decisions made without proper context/info
    - Strong resistance to digital projects/innovation (this might have changed for the better!)


  5. Helpful (33)

    "Wizards can do better"

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

    I worked at Wizards of the Coast full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    - Great, smart, dedicated people
    - Wizards makes Magic and D&D. Magic and D&D are awesome.

    Cons

    - Cultural shifts
    - Layoffs
    - Lack of diversity

    Wizards of the Coast has problems. In 2016-2017 after the new CEO and Digital Game Studio leadership were onboarded, whatever culture that made WotC a great place to work was quickly undermined. The value that the company had previously placed on work-life balance has deteriorated and shifts in the management structure have made the last couple of years very difficult ones for the organization.

    There have been significant culture shifts. Instead of the "work hard, play hard" ethic, the focus became the "True 40" [hours per week]. Mandatory play tests and extra work hours on Friday afternoons, nights, and weekends were demanded. PTO requests became highly scrutinized. Leadership would walk around early (before 9 AM) and late (after 6 PM) and take note of who was working at their desks. Productivity was the mandate. While nominally still allowing "half-day Fridays" (most engineers choose to opt for the 4x9 and half-day Friday schedule), mandatory play tests are scheduled for Friday afternoons.

    Pre-releases and other company-wide events which had previously been scheduled for weekday afternoons (The goal is for everyone in the company to play!) were moved to after-work hours so productivity would not be impacted. Success criteria for performance reviews became harsh and people not meeting the bar were escorted out the door.

    Part of the cultural shift in 2017 was how engineers were managed. Engineering managers became a thing of the past. In the new world of the Digital Game Studio, HR management functions and responsibilities for performance reviews have shifted to lead or principal developers.

    In 2017 there were two significant workforce reductions in technology. In October 2017 a full third of the FTEs in the technology groups at Wizards were laid off. Unsurprisingly, most of the employees impacted by this layoff were people who had had long tenures at Wizards. A large percentage of these employees were over 40. The layoffs in 2017 smacked of age discrimination. The mean age of engineers in the technology organization has shifted significantly in the last two years as the older, dedicated remnants of the former Wizards' culture were separated from the company.

    Wizards has hard choices to make. Do they cultivate a workplace where human interactions are valued? Is work-life balance valued or are they treating resources as fungible driving toward one release after another? Do they promote a culture where diverse individuals are valued for their skills or are they a strict meritocracy? Do they value gender, cultural, and age diversity or are they a 20-to-30-something, white-boy gamers club? Is leadership invested in the career growth of their employees or are they just worried about cranking code and releasing product?

    I fear the answers to these questions do not bode well for people who love Wizards of the Coast and support the values of collaboration and diversity.

    Most people who have worked at Wizards of the Coast since its founding in 1990 believe it has been the best work experience they have ever had.

    That is no longer true.

    At the cost of shipping Arena and building a "Digital Game Studio", Wizards no longer values its employees, nor are they committed to a diverse and welcoming workplace.

    Today, Wizards is not a good place to work. I hope someday it will be again.

    Advice to Management

    - Value people. Dedicated, passionate employees are your key to success.
    - Respect the culture that made Wizards successful. Don't turn it into a Turbine or a Riot.
    - Do better.


  6. "Material handler"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    Former Employee - Mater in Grand Prairie, TX
    Former Employee - Mater in Grand Prairie, TX

    I worked at Wizards of the Coast full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great company to work for..Love the Work schedule

    Cons

    Pay not good at all..or opportunity to move up

    Advice to Management

    I have 15+years in management


  7. Helpful (11)

    "Was a good place to work until recently"

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

    I worked at Wizards of the Coast full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Work/Live balance was good except during deployment times

    Cons

    Lack of trust between the teams hindered improvements to internal processes

    Advice to Management

    The company was good at first when I started working there but with upper management changes and their subsequent change in direction led to a lot of confusion as to what the goals were and how our team was to support them. Due to this ambiguity, 30+ people were laid off recently which not only impacted the people being let go but few that stayed and had to assume the responsibilities. I would no longer recommend this company as a good, solid place to work for.

  8. Helpful (4)

    "Sales"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Renton, WA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Renton, WA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Wizards of the Coast full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Great company culture, fun environment, awesome product. The people really come together and going to work is a joy instead of a chore.

    Cons

    Leadership very secretive and reactive. Benefits, especially health coverage, is pretty bad and wages are below area standards

    Advice to Management

    Listen to subject matter experts and keep the long term health of the business in mind.


  9. Helpful (3)

    "Great Company to work for"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Renton, WA
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Renton, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Wizards of the Coast full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Work life balance is good at this company with a lot of products given for free to all full time employees. WotC is backed by Hasbro as its child company.

    Free soda and some amenities.

    About 15 days paid vacation days and 3 personal days from the first year.

    Cons

    Pay is a little below average.

    I'm sure the company is going through a change for better but a few arounds of layoffs happened all of a sudden this year.

    Advice to Management

    If the company needs people with certain skill sets, why not train the existing employees instead of letting them go and hiring new ones? Those who have been working for the company are much more knowledgeable about the systems than the new ones. I think the management should try to invest in the current employees' training so much more.


  10. Helpful (30)

    "If you value your sanity you will not want to work on Magic"

    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
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Wizards of the Coast full-time

    Pros

    The people. That's about it.

    Cons

    Over the last year there has been immense pressure from the executive leadership to churn out more and more products, marketing efforts, events, you name it and very little has been done to keep headcount at pace with the requests. Our people are exhausted constantly and overall life at work has become miserable for most. If it weren't for the great people we work with helping to keep morale up our attrition rates would be much higher than they currently are. Ever since Chris has become president there has been this lip service talking point from him, and other executive leaders, about how they want to make Wizards one of the "greatest places to work" companies in the Seattle region, however, they are going about it in the most naive way imaginable. Here's a tip to Wizards leadership: free soda, new furniture, and the occasional food truck is never going to get you on that list. You get on that list by fostering a work environment that doesn't make your employees dread going in to work because of the inevitable pain they are going to feel each day trying to deliver your insane requests. Stop making one person do the work load of an entire team. Stop ignoring your people when nearly every employee survey comes back negative. Stop telling us that the budget doesn't allow for additional headcount and then dump another new project on us and tell us to "be more flexible". But who knows, maybe the 30+ people you just let go will open up some of that budget? Probably not, but here's to hoping.

    We have lost all breathing room in our day to day. We used to be able to get in a game of Magic on the regular, you know, celebrate the IP that we love so much, but now you rarely see anybody playing games around the office anymore. The sentiment now is that if you're seen playing a game by certain people your job is in jeopardy, or your work load can handle a few more requests. It's really quite sad. The best example of this was today; Halloween. In years past Halloween has been a sacred day at WotC where every floor goes all out to make the most impressive experience they can think of and it was glorious. This year was pathetic all around because half the building couldn't afford to spend half a day having a fun festive time which has been tradition for years. Now, some exec may be reading this and thinking "the business needs vastly outweigh something like Halloween!" and from a business perspective you're right, but to us little people it's a huge part of what used to make Wizards a great place to work and now you've killed it. If nothing changes you are never going to make that list.

    Advice to Management

    Either slow down on the requests, or invest in your teams and hire more people. Give us the time to make truly great products and regain some of our sanity. Chris, go back to trying to connect with your employees and listen to them. Your ideas and intuitions are not always the right way to go.


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