Every Gaming Company is Horrible to Work For

That’s pretty much the theme of this post on Kotaku, which surveys anonymous comments from current and former employees from every major gaming studio and developer. The comments come from Glassdoor.com, and while they’re not fully guaranteed to be legit, there is some verification done, to at least ascertain a company connection.

There are dozens of companies described in the quotes, and the ones from (alleged) Blizzard employees are far from the most negative. That said, there are some juicy tidbits. See the article for the whole thing, but here are some of the Blizzard highlights, and thanks to Lanth for the tip:

Its too bad to find out the reality of Blizzard.
2/5 — Current Senior Artist in Irvine, CA – Reviewed Jun 05, 2012

Cons – – Really bad management overall.

– Poor communication within and across departments and teams.

– Very political. Politics over logic, professionalism, and work ethics. Whether you can do a good job, finish your work on time, or have the knowledge to do the work is much less important than you getting along with people and being liked by your supervisor and key people in the company.

– People there do not understand what professionalism is. From HR to most of management. Most of them are not on top of and do not resolve issues (production or management issues). They have tons of meetings to talk about it and only to come out of those meetings to do nothing.

– Extremely inefficient. Waste a lot of time and effort to do very little.

– A lot of “old-timer” employees that has been with the company for a long time that do not do much work but yet, because of Blizzard’s emphasize [sic] on seniority and loyalty, their jobs are very secure. They happen to be the most political as well.

– Methods used to track and measure performance is a failure. Performance reviews are pretty useless and there are nothing like a 360 review. Overall, there is a huge lack of accountability throughout the company.

– Overwork employees. (multiple all nighters during crunch time is not uncommon. Salary employees do not get overtime and it does not matter how many all nighters they do.)

I didn’t count up an actual tally while reading the Kotaku article, but most-to-all of the reports, from every company, complained about terrible hours, crunch times, overwork, lack of overtime, etc. Such features are pretty much just industry standards, it seems, and not just for the legendarily-awful entry-level QA employee experience. Kind of amazing how many young gamers still want to grow up to work in the industry.

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37 thoughts on “Every Gaming Company is Horrible to Work For

  1. Ok, this is the 3rd time in two days that I can’t login to comment. Well, it says I successfully logged in, the page refreshes, and the username and password fields are still there. *sigh*

    Anyways, I spent quite a bit of time reading these reviews on Kotaku last night; I think the main IncGamers page had a link to it. The thing I found so interesting (but not the least bit shocking,) is that there are ZERO positive reviews. Even the reviews that are entitled something like, “Good Company to Work For and Learn (game development skill)” were typically nothing but negative remarks. It’s rather convenient that Kotaku decided to only use the bad, the worse, and the worst reviews for each company. Does the company have a 3.8 / 5.0 rating? Bad reviews. Does the head / president of the company have a 86% approval rating? Terrible reviews. It’s just flat out obnoxious. Does Kotaku think that the only thing people want to hear about their favorite game companies is how horrible they (supposedly) treat their employees? Come on. What are they, the gaming division of Fox News?

        • I asked about it in the website help thread early this morning (about 8 hrs ago, in case you’re not in North America,) and apparently it was down for a security audit.

          • Numerous hacking attempts were made on the site this weekend and while Rush was blocking them and resetting things, commenting and logging in was sometimes messed up. It truly sucks how much hacker bullshit you have to deal with running a popular website.

  2. As someone who works in the game industry, this is just typical “it sucks everywhere” sort of mentality. You could literally apply it to just about any industry out there. Sure, all working sectors aren’t equal, and maybe things are worse/harder at game companies (which I admit could very well be true), but I know MANY people at major studios who are very happy.

    The people upset with their current or past jobs are going to be the vocal majority. Blanket statements like this have little merit unless you conducted some sort of survey that was actually accurate and all inclusive. Just a typical article hoping to get more hits and views.

    PS – I couldn’t login to comment, either.

    • As someone who works in the software industry, I can assure you game development is the laughing stock of software. Game developers are notoriously overworked, underpaid, and unhappy chasing a rabbit they will never catch.

      • Have to agree. Never heard anything good about working in a gaming company. Yes, it can be very stimulating to do that kind of programming/work, but working conditions have always been bad. And I think a lot of game developers are coming from a more “hackish” background. They don’t see programming as a craftsmanship. I wouldn’t dare to think how their codebase looks like…

        Having a couple of seniors doing the decisions might be necessary in order to get a lot of individual programmers to achieve something together.

  3. I mean for most of the kids and students out there who haven’t experienced the real working world yet, this might be something new. But to the rest of us, this is old news. Regardless of what industry you are in, this will be the norm.

    The complaints in the post are part of human nature. Even with proper performance reviews or better top management, these things will still happen. You just have to play the game like you play the game of life, its no different.

    • Correct.

      You could fill in the name of ANY medium to large sized company right there and not notice any difference.

      Senior officers who don’t do much, meetings that take forever about nothing, complaints that everyone needs to do overtime to meet deadlines constantly. Communications between departments that are not going true…

      Anyone working in ANY industry will give you the exact same picture.

      The odd word in the article is “political”. It is human nature to be political and stand on others with the help of friendly relations. Everyone knows that talent is secondary to networking.

      Artcile must have been written by an 18 year old.

  4. Sounds like a description of my current work place and I do not work at a games development company.

    This is not just about Blizzard, this post should be about a wider variety of bad companies in general.

  5. This seems to explain why D3, SC2 and WoW have all been going downhill. Especially D3. That overhyped fucking piece of garbage. Shouldn’t have taken more than 2 years.

  6. Lack of paid overtime = price of being an exempt employee. Maybe he’d rather be paid by the hour? Cry me a river.

  7. Hmm dunno much about Glassdoor but there is just one thing to ask with anything like this and that is, is the article by a real employee who working/worked there.
    If theres no real checks that they work for that group then it could of been written by anyone.

  8. Update I just put a fake review on Glassdoor for a random company.
    So like with all these thing take it with a lot of salt.

  9. Totally not surprised. I imagine Bliz to be the type of company you work your ass off for for many years only to be fired out of the blue one day with no reason given.

    Shameful really, but given the product they put out with the 4 years they had to make it (and that they didnt do a thing during the beta,) I really am not surprised in the least.

    • I truly hope somebody buys Blizzard and just fires most of the current team. Heads should have rolled for some of the terrible implementation of many of the games systems, and yet the very same people who released such a pisspoor product (for a Bliz game,) are the same ones attempting to make it better… yet the only original ideas coming out are the ones being given by its playerbase. Truly a joke.

  10. Lol, why isn’t this a surprise to me? It’s called corporate America! I work for a pharmaceutical which I will not mention here but let me say, every single thing mentioned on Blizzard’s end is exactly the same way my company runs.
    Seniority always keep their jobs, the new hires are completely expendable. There are tons of meetings happening that get absolutely no where with zero problems resolved afterwards and how well or how much work you do have zero reflection on your chance inside the company. It’s all about who you know and how well you get a long with the right folks. Politics rule the work place and if you don’t play the right sides, your gone the next day.
    It’s so sad but true and as you might already figured out, I hate my job aside from the pay check it provides(which sucks also but at least I have one).

  11. Doesn’t look like our friends from the former Blizzard North at flagship fared much better under scrutiny. To be fair, Flagship only got 1 review and after they folded. But a 3.0? Ouch. That is a wee bit less that I thought they’d get.


    That said, I think a lot of these reviews need to be taken with a grain of salt. Some people may not know a good job if it bit them on the butt. And, you need to think about the context they are reviewing the company on. Were they let go? Did they have a bad run in with someone high up in the corporate ladder? Maybe people need to divorce their personal feelings a little more when review a company.

    • I agree 100%. Glad somebody finally said it. There were times even at my best jobs where I would have given my company 1/5 rating.

      What glassdoor is really good at is finding the GOOD JOBS, not the BAD ones.

  12. Its hard to call Blizzard lazy when they still bother to reset the D2 ladder every 6 months. They don’t have to do that. Most companies would have probably shut down D2 ladder 6 years ago. Now if they could just make runes easier to find, and maybe a few fun cube recipes tossed in. Pretty please?

  13. Oh and Blizz migrated D2 ladder over to new hardware recently. Not bad for a 12 year old game. Thanks Blizz!

  14. I read a lot of the reviews and I rather take them seriously. Don’t just read 1 review, but read more of them and try to find common things w/ the company either good or bad.

    You are treated quite nicely if you are a developer and other developers are great to work with.

    The company is ran more like a small development house where everyone knows each other

    awesome parties and events as well as perks

    company culture – they care about their games and commitment to quality.

    nice *place* to work – meaning the facility, etc. For both Irvine and Austin locations

    Cons –

    Bad management. Management between departments are fractured and communication between them is very poor.

    Certain departments are treated poorly, namely the CS and QA departments. It’s not surprising as these people are considered bottom of the barrel compared to the developers.

    Temp agency for the CS Reps are borderline corrupt and treat people like cattle.

    Politics could make or break you. True, it’s like any job, but it comes down to social networking first and talent second.

    Bad pay. Below industry standard and they try to compensate by profit sharing but that pay depends on the success or failure of games. If the games are doing bad (like WoW dropping subs) they are paid less and employees become unhappy.

    Insane overtime, pretty standard with game companies

  15. \- Very political. Politics over logic, professionalism, and work ethics. Whether you can do a good job, finish your work on time, or have the knowledge to do the work is much less important than you getting along with people and being liked by your supervisor and key people in the company.\ That’s everywhere, its also a shame things work this way because ppl fear for their job security in tough times.

    Captcha: horse and cart

  16. Valve:
    Average Rating: 5.0 (\Very Satisfied\)

    \possibly the best game company to work for\

    Cons – very competitive internally (high standards).

    Not a bad con to have, but I’ve also heard good things about Valve.

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