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Wizards of the Coast Employee Reviews about "d d"

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16 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (30)

    "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.


  2. Helpful (10)

    "Great company to work for, if you can avoid management."

    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

    Pros

    Free product, there's really no good reason to work here unless you are a Magic
     or D&D fan.

    Cons

    Upper middle management. Whether its an inept VP or CEO, there's a lot of layers of blame before it gets to them.

    Benefits are just garbage.

    Always hiring non-diversity. It always seems like a new, over-paid white male comes through the door.

    Hire a CEO that has actually produced a game.

    Low pay. People are vastly underpaid for trying to be a "tech company".

    Promote people who actually deserve it.

    Advice to Management

    Take some classes in leadership and strategy. Keep people who actually know their job and drop those lazy managers who blame others or pile their work on to front-line workers.

    Stop bringing Microsofters in.

  3. "Good"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Contractor - Anonymous Contractor
    Former Contractor - Anonymous Contractor

    I worked at Wizards of the Coast as a contractor

    Pros

    Get to work on fun D&D materials.

    Cons

    No particular thing to complain about.


  4. Helpful (18)

    "Will look good on your resume when you apply somewhere else"

    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

    I worked at Wizards of the Coast full-time

    Pros

    Half-day Fridays for most employees, and a lot of free product. Frequent internal organized play events with catered food. On-site gym with subsidized personal trailers available to help you burn off the calories from free soda.

    Work with some incredibly talented individuals to build the games you love, which can be incredibly satisfying at first.

    Hasbro's benefits package is generous with 401k matching and other benefits, including three weeks vacation to start and unlimited sick time that doesn't come from your paid time off.

    You'll get free Hasbro movie screenings, and an occasional Disney movie.

    Cons

    There are little to no development opportunities for current employees. You will be over worked and underpaid. It's no secret that Wizards' salaries aren't competitive with the rest of the greater Seattle area. This will be a significant problem for you as real estate prices continue to rise to Bay-area levels and traffic only gets worse.

    Most management isn't out to help you succeed or grow. They're there to take credit for your talent and exploit your love for Magic and D&D. If you're not one of the 'good old boys' it will be extremely difficult to accomplish anything. Being a "yes" man and a brown-noser are the best ways to succeed at Wizards.

    There's a reason only employees who have been at Wizards for less than two years are happy.

    Advice to Management

    So long as you run an environment that fosters the rewards the mid-level managers and above for exploiting your employees and treating them like garbage you will continue to hemorrhage your best talent for Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and other Seattle tech.

    Take the charges of sexism and predatory managers seriously. It's happening, and it hurts the entire company when nothing is done.

    Changing your mind about business strategy every 6 months is a great way to waste your employee's time and effort, so you should stop doing that.

    Understand that Renton is close enough to Seattle that you need to actually pay your employees a competitive salary so they can buy a home and raise a family.


  5. Helpful (5)

    "Loosing good people"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Wizards of the Coast full-time

    Pros

    Flexible and fun job if you love MTG or D&D.

    Cons

    Not very many carrier advancements because company hires managers above long worked employees from outside. HR admits managers have no time to train or mentor employees they manage so you are on your own. (So don't complain if you don't get any support.)
    Politics in the company became more important than actual creative work.

    Advice to Management

    Leadership is not sitting on your authority. Inspire and grow people who work for you. Good souls are leaving company.


  6. Helpful (3)

    "Great creative environment, poor technical environment"

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

    I worked at Wizards of the Coast as a contractor

    Pros

    Solid creative culture working to design future Dungeons & Dragons products along with Magic the Gathering card sets. Nearly every employee deeply engaged with the products in some way. Ample opportunities to play while taking a break. Half day Friday policy allows for an easy wind down from the week. Fun place to be for any D&D or MtG fan.

    Cons

    Technology is ancient and crumbling. All the digital efforts are massive disappointments with many in denial about competitors like Blizzard. High school level politics and a strong sense of apathy among most of the teams. No real sense of ownership. Very unclear communications. Unethical managers that use and abuse contractors. Issues with theft to the point several employees have their own personal security cameras. Outdated office furniture and environment for many. Meetings that turn into who can talk over who instead of team collaborations. Managers almost always in meetings instead of leading teams. Efforts have been successful at purging the most toxic elements from the work force, however much work remains to turn the highly cynical teams into productive and good work experiences. Purely reactionary environment due to no one feeling comfortable taking ownership and being proactive. Poor support from IT that would rather enforce ancient enterprise standards rather then taking security and productivity seriously. Even Microsoft has moved beyond the 90s, it's time for WoTC to as well.

    Advice to Management

    Adopt more empowering policies for the employees instead of making demands from closed off offices. Bring ownership to the teams instead of fracturing products between full time employees and two tiers of contractors and outsourcers. Be willing to fire the most cynical people holding teams back with can't do that attitudes. Break down barriers between departments that still remain. And modernize the company, it shouldn't involve printing paper to place in someones physical inbox to take time off. Consider relocating to a more desirable area instead of in the middle of an industrial park.


  7. Helpful (10)

    "Proof that great games can be created despite embarassing management."

    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

    I worked at Wizards of the Coast full-time

    Pros

    Everyone at Wizards eventually gets the opportunity to help Magic and D&D grow (though you will not likely be credited for your efforts). There are occasional game nights, employee prereleases, and you get free product for both brands.

    A play area recently opened up on the first floor, and it's nicely decorated, giving people a cool place to hang out without having to hijack empty meeting rooms. The overall atmosphere is relaxed and almost all of the employees are very friendly.

    Wizards is great at a few things when it comes to making physical games. A few departments such as R&D, creative, and art teams have their process down extremely well. If it weren't for these departments performing adequately, creating fun and beautiful games, and sincerely caring about the enjoyment of the product, the entire company would be in horrible shape.

    Cons

    *** Compensation ***

    Salary is well below industry standards. Benefits are ridiculously poor, to the point where most employees take the bare minimum while cringing and complaining at the huge expense (nothing is done to address this).

    *** Management ***

    Extremely conservative company with rigid and inefficient infrastructure. Zero career pathing for employees. Advancement very rare, most jobs turn into dead end grinds. Many managers in key areas have found themselves in positions they are unqualified to perform, but fly under the radar because work generally goes unchecked as long as the company continues to make money. The company avoids change and risk (change and risk are basically the same thing for WotC) at all costs for fear of disrupting the Magic: The Gathering profit machine.

    *** Communication and meetings ***

    Internal communication within the company is embarrassingly poor. More e-mails are sent regarding team lunches and last minute emergencies than all project planning and progress report e-mails combined.

    Instead of properly utilizing e-mail, there's a strong meeting culture within most departments where managers hop from meeting to meeting every hour of the day, every day of the week. This is viewed as very productive work time in the eyes of upper management. Weekly held two-hour meetings are common. Nobody in the building has training on how to actually run a meeting, so they are almost always unstructured and overly conversational.

    If a decision within a meeting is somehow reached, it's because time is up and the continuation of a project depends on it. Because of the lack of communication, unpleasant surprises are a regular occurrence which are happily solved with even more meetings.

    Often times, an event or project will go poorly, but will be presented in post as a moderate success in order to save face in front of executive management. The company has no idea how to rate the success of its own projects unless they are sales related.

    If a failure is somehow spotted by executive management, there's usually a lot of buck passing until managing staff are no longer to blame and the problem is forgotten about. With a constant flow of products and game updates, the next big freak out is only days away and very little time is allowed for any real managerial upkeep.

    *** Work environment ***

    While the lobby is nicely decorated, the look and feel of the office space remains dingy. The carpets are old and stained. The only free snacks are terrible Seattle's Best drip coffee and microwave popcorn. Office furniture is years old and is never replaced, only shuffled around from cube to cube. The technology side is even worse.

    *** Digital ***

    Any Magic Online player or frequent website visitor can tell you Wizards is horrible at anything and everything digital. Internally they refer to themselves as a modern digital company, but they then pay programmers next to nothing and expect long work hours when something breaks. They insist on doing nearly all digital development in-house under these circumstances, dumping the occasional money injection into specific areas (not salary raises) that are in critical condition. Sort of like an old dying car that costs hundreds of dollars to repair every few months just to keep the wheels turning.

    *** Employee morale ***

    There are a few great teams which are a joy to witness. These are the teams that make Magic and D&D the awesome experiences they are. These products succeed despite the terrible planning, marketing, and communication efforts performed by the rest of the company. Thankfully the playerbase is much better at promoting the game than Wizards is.

    Upper management caught wind of the low morale roughly two years ago, recognizing that people were unhappy with management practices and low recognition and celebration of their work. An entire year later, after many more quit, they actually decided to do something about it. No, they didn't increase pay or benefits, and no they didn't introduce any training for their team members that could improve their management skills. Instead, they formed multiple internal committees to address specific areas of improvement. This was a very modern concept for Wizards, and was well received because it was the first time upper management seemed to care about their unhappy employees. Unfortunately these committees really only added up to more meetings made up of, you guessed it, mostly middle and upper management.

    After a year of these meetings, work was the same as ever with only a few superficial reports of progress gleaned from their efforts. Most employees now realize that the committees themselves were only a weak attempt to appear concerned with the morale problem.

    Advice to Management

    Stop filling your day with meetings and stop letting those you manage do the same. The meeting culture is destroying the productivity of several teams. Try actually speaking to an employee that's more than one level below you. Book the occasional one-on-one with them and actually find out if your subordinate managers are doing what they're supposed to be doing when you aren't looking. You'll be surprised to find that the person you are managing poorly is also managing their team poorly.

    Stop celebrating and congratulating managers who deliver sub-par work that is weeks (sometimes months) behind deadline.

    If you really care about the happiness of your employees and the success of your brand, loosen up and stop being so controlling over it. Make your employees remember why they chose Wizards of the Coast in the first place, and let them have some fun experimenting in their own space. Do this because it will make them happy, not because it will make you look good. Take your team out to lunch more than once a year and stop waiting until Halloween to have a fun office event.

    Take a look at projects with a yearly occurrence, and question why they are still happening. Stop pouring thousands into annual efforts that only exist because someone decided they were a good idea 5 years ago.

    Either stop being stingy with pay checks or stop being stingy with product. The current system is better than it used to be, but there's no reason to treat Magic cards like gold. You make millions of them a year, yet most employees have a hard time constructing a Modern deck. Considering how far the free product goes towards making up for the company's shortcomings, events centered around employee happiness (like Employee Appreciation Week) are less exciting than ever.

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Greatest Opportunity to Re-invent Itself!"

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

    I have been working at Wizards of the Coast full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    The three brands, D&D, Duel Masters, and Magic are simply the best in Hobby Gaming and who wouldn't want to work on those?!
    The work week schedule is flexible enough to provide for excellent productivity and work/life balance.
    PTO is extremely competitive, even in the Seattle market.
    The majority of the executives and directors genuinely care about employees, culture, and morale (rare in today's market).
    There are a lot of career opportunities, if you work hard and apply yourself.
    Wizards Week!!
    Sales Team has turned things around over the last 12 months.

    Cons

    Desperately need new cube furniture! (was suppose to roll out to the whole company, but cut for financial reasons)
    Onsite amenities have improved, but need free food or significantly improved selection of paid food. There is only one option within walking distance and the road is very dangerous to cross (accident involving a police officer just last week!)
    Meeting-heavy culture; "old guard" needs to leave or become contemporary (top-to-bottom).
    Renton is not a great location nor is it competitive.

    Advice to Management

    HR, Trade Marketing, Magic R&D, Sales/Game Support, and Technology departments have made significant changes and improvements in management and organization. Hold the other departments equally accountable for performance, efficiency, and especially solid leadership.

    The same leadership competencies, luck, and strategies that were responsible for the tremendous success over the last 4 years will not be the same that are needed for the digital future. This statement applies top-to-bottom in the organization.

    Invest in digital brand management and marketing (see Magic Duels issues). Managing a digital game brand is NOT the same as managing a paper game brand. Use contemporary marketing, not the same-old 10-year old tactics.

    Get creative with perks and benefits. If you cannot compete with the standard benefits, then differentiate yourself with soft benefits or more time off to pursue creative endeavors.

    PMO needs a serious overhaul.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Make the game you love better"

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

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

    Pros

    You get to work to make Magic and D&D to be the best they can be for other gamers! Every person in the company gets the opportunity to contribute to the brands in the company, and to playtest new products. There are ample opportunities for people with a good eye and a good sense of taste to make an impact on something they are passionate about. This leads to both Magic and D&D being two of the best games in the world. Without the hundreds of talented individuals at the company working, that wouldn't be the case.

    In the past year, morale has gotten better with more focus being put on keeping the employees happy, and giving them the kinds of perks that you would expect in a game company. We are still a ways off from having free food, entertainment, but it has been a step in the right direction that continues. There has also been an effort to make the salaries and other compensation more competitive, which has been another step in the right direction. I don't think everything is perfect, but there are enough people in the company that want to make it a better place to work that I feel like it will get there.

    Cons

    The parts of the work when you need to interact with people who are not passionate about the brands can be frustrating. HR, in particular, doesn't seem to value what an amazing resource they have in hiring talented people who want more than anything to work on a game they love - and they treat it as though everyone was applying for a job a desk job at an insurance company. Too much bureaucracy is involved in many areas of the company, and it has driven more than one talented individual out, and kept dozens (if not hundreds) of passionate employees who would have well outperformed their job titles out.

    Also, there have been some cost-cutting measures in relation to the health plan in the past year that are borderline insulting. The old health plan was okay, but the new one is definitely not competitive a company of this size in the greater Seattle area.

    Advice to Management

    As far as the company as come, it still needs a huge step forward in the digital age. Too much time is spent on the kinds of things that matter to Hasbro as a toy company, instead of Wizards, which should operate much more like a computer game company. I'd look to really shaking things up on the digital side to keep Magic competitive in the next 5 years. Also, make sure that the top level executives care as deeply about our brands as the people at the ground floor do. If the people at the top don't care if we are are making games or widgets, that attitude will trickle down.


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