ArenaNet Employee Reviews about "upper management"

Updated 3 Apr 2019

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3.8
69%
Recommend to a Friend
72%
Approve of CEO
ArenaNet Co-Founder & President Mike O'Brien
Mike O'Brien
80 Ratings
Pros
  • "Company provides great medical benefits and a great work life balance(in 31 reviews)

  • "Work environment (cool studio, kitchen with free snacks and drinks)(in 12 reviews)

Cons
  • "mediocre pay, egotistical upper management, conflicting messages on work/life balance(in 17 reviews)

  • "If you are a very experienced tester or just very familiar with Guild Wars 2 you may feel unchallenged by the work(in 8 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

Reviews about "upper management"

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  1. "Wonderful Culture"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Cinematic Artist in Redmond, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at ArenaNet full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Wonderful people & culture Life/work Balance Amazing talent Good compensation Fun events throught the year Great facility I had a lot of autonomy and ownership over my work. I also had great mentors which lead to a lot of growth. My team was wonderful and I will miss working with them.

    Cons

    While I'm aware of some complaints with upper management. In my personal experience, I don't have real cons to offer here. ArenaNet was the highlight of my career.

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  2. Helpful (3)

    "Good Devs, Bad Leadership"

    3.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at ArenaNet full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    good benefits, great developers, strong positive team dynamics, passionate people, great career development opportunities, good middle management (team leads)

    Cons

    mediocre pay, egotistical upper management, conflicting messages on work/life balance

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  3. Helpful (2)

    "Good culture, bad managers"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at ArenaNet full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    The employees are nice and fun to work with. The social atmosphere is relatively relaxed for games.

    Cons

    The upper management is old and set in their ways. A few technically competent, but managerially incompetent people got promoted to director and it makes the professional atmosphere unstable.

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  4. Helpful (10)

    "Massive Potential Talents Wasted by Management "Yes" Men"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bellevue, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time

    Pros

    ArenaNet has some of the best and most creative people that put in a maximum amount of effort. The collaborative effort that exists in tackling issues and problems is next to none. Like any game company, times can get rough around crunch time, ArenaNet is no different. However during all other times ArenaNet has the most flexible stance when it comes to your schedule. Work/Live balance (while not on a release deadline) can be fantastic. Perks are slightly sub par for the area, however candidates looking to move to the area from other areas may find that they are very below what other companies may offer in other parts of the country. The ArenaNet brand is strong, as not many can say that we still run a successful MMORPG.

    Cons

    Advancing at ArenaNet is mostly done through feudal succession. There is no vertical mobility, performance reviews are heavily ignored, and almost no room for expansion as the company refused to expand for years. While the company has refused to expand, it has also refused to replace lost talent, opting to rely on current staff to pick up the extra work. Some teams can accommodate it, some can not, and it becomes apparent in the quality of the product. Normally this is where management would come in, unfortunately this is where ArenaNet has it's largest problem. Normal and Senior Level management seems to be constantly in a battle between each other on which one can make their team make them look better at the expense of their own team's longevity. This causes burnout and mistrust which has lead to a revolving door of talent. Some very long term employees and upper management seem to be kept around regardless of their performance or usefulness while their rule is law. Firing of employees based on performance is very rare, and normally only occurs when you have upset one of these people.

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  5. Helpful (6)

    "Filled with "Yes" Men"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bellevue, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    There are some passionate people here, and some truly great people. Few of them are also good at their jobs as well as being passionate and great, but you can make some awesome friends. Work life balance is great for almost everyone with studio hours, just do your 8 hours and be in the office between 10-4... except for the large group of people that only come in from 10-4 and take a 2 hour lunch.

    Cons

    Upper management is run by Yes men. Deadlines don't mean anything, good for you if you're always late because you won't get any adverse action taken or be fired. Bad because the game has slid in quality and stability. Every team has a different process, making it hard to move between teams or to figure out what is going on with the entire project. There is a lot of blame slinging and service teams such as marketing, QA, and CS get all of the blame. CEO is a great person but is either in over his head or just doesn't care to hear anything that isn't positive. QA was cut by over 75% and designers were told to test their own content. Scapegoating is rampant and you're constantly told to shut up. Amazing people leave because there is no growth, 2-4 people weekly since before expansion launch. Some bad eggs are kicked out but if you can be enough of a "Yes Man" you can rise up and be given a lot of leadership. Pay is a joke compared to the area and the industry. Part of the local industry chat is that you're expected to do twice as much for half the pay. Management tells you to factor your profit sharing into your salary, but it is at least 3 years before you're eligible for a payout and then when you can't pay your bills management tells you not to expect to get profit sharing payouts.

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  6. "Passionate Employees, Horrific Management"

    3.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Contractor - Anonymous Contractor 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I worked at ArenaNet

    Pros

    - The people are overall friendly and dedicated to their job. They all want to make something amazing, and will give their hearts and souls to their projects. It's very rewarding, not to mention infectious, to be around that kind of emotion. - A good percentage of female employees - The studio itself has a great atmosphere - Access to the complex's gym for all employees - Generally has good Work/Life balance, especially for the game industry

    Cons

    - Upper management neither listens to major concerns, nor communicates out their plans and ideas. - Over-reliance on contract employees and interns. They throw people into very stressful situations, often with little oversight or support, and very few departments will make efforts to hire those employees full time when the contract is over. - The company is very cut off from their QA company. Very few employees know what conditions their QA are working in, who the QA employees are, or what major concerns and issues the QA team is having. QA is, due to a myriad of reasons, treated as lesser than ArenaNet employees, leading to sub-par turn-over rates in QA, bad feelings on both sides, and overall low morale. - While there are many women at the company, there's very few of them in management positions. - It's a very high stress company. There are constant fires to put out, constant emails that need ASAP responses, and very little time to get to what becomes a growing backlog of work. - There's a serious bug fixing problem. People deem fixing bugs inferior work to new development, leading to hundreds, even thousands, of bugs that need to get fixed in a very small timeline. - Pay is laughable for games, especially compared to the tech industry as a whole.

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  7. Helpful (14)

    "Bright past, solid creatives, uncertain future"

    3.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
     
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at ArenaNet

    Pros

    In my time at ArenaNet, I met a lot of talented and dedicated people: incredible artists, some really devoted designers, talented writers, clever programmers, & some of the best QA staff in the business. If you're really excited about sinking into the lore & mechanics of a world, Tyria (the source for both Guild Wars & GW2) is lush & fascinating, & the majority of the people working there are deeply devoted to that source material. Their interaction with their community is stunningly positive, it stands out as one of the best in the business. I was proud of how ArenaNet was really on the hunt for internal talent. I know many people there who climbed the ranks from QA to art, production, programming, and design. Such a practice is all too rare these days & I applaud them for their efforts to cultivate promising talent from within.

    Cons

    The unfortunate part of working at ArenaNet really came after Guild Wars 2 shipped. The company folded into a lot of smaller teams, but refused to try to establish any kind of hierarchy. This led to a lot of "fake" titles, confusion, and jostling for position. Seniors felt undervalued & unable to advance to a leadership position, intermediates felt confused about how to develop their careers. Only juniors really benefited from an environment that emphasized generalist work. Shifting schedules & trying to adapt management led to weird positions where "coordinators" could be from an department, so suddenly a senior designer might find themselves answering to an animator, or a prop artist to a programmer, and so on. An interesting experiment on one level but mostly bewildering and frustrating. In addition to this, major focus started to be spent on developing the Chinese version of Guild Wars 2. In fact a recent patch, adapted to that system, caused major outcries in the GW2 community in the rest of the world due to it adding mandatory tutorials & mangling story content. It was a concern for me while I was there how a different country was essentially pushing around the design direction for the rest of the world (& I felt weird that all game content had to be approved by the Chinese government before being released). I understand how big of a market it is but it felt like it pushed an entirely separate agenda. If you're not an artist at ArenaNet, it is understood that your department is not the one in charge. I found many art assets were not even open for discussion, let alone debate, even when the community reaction against such was super negative. Don't get me wrong, ArenaNet has some of the best artists there that I've ever worked with, but the upper management has made the decisions of the art leads unimpeachable & very inflexible when it comes to adapting to feedback. This is a major departure from working on GW2 & even with individual artists on post-release content. It's a departmental issue not a cultural one. One thing I found out after the fact of working at ANet is that the salaries are below industry standard by a lot, even to the point when someone I knew outside the company called it a "local joke." Programmers will likely secure a more solid wage because of local competition, as will artists, but seniors of multiple departments will likely be disappointed at their offerings. I have heard since that upper management is trying hard to bring salaries up to industry standard. This is nice to hear but it is definitely something to consider. & although the new expansion is looking interesting it's not clear if ArenaNet will continue to be GW2-ONLY, or if they'll be able to open up development to other projects. The setting and game are cool, but without alternatives to offer, it's a fair bet that talented individuals suffering from thematic burnout will leave.

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  8. Helpful (7)

    "A studio on the cusp of greatness hindered by poor management decisions."

    3.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    * The studio is filled with talented and passionate people everywhere you look. * Good benefits if you are full time. * Healthy, supportive atmosphere among the employees. * Great hours for some departments, especially given the industry norms. * Good career opportunities for many departments. * When everyone on a team is in sync they can produce amazing results. * Some key management figures truly care and it shows in the success their teams have.

    Cons

    * Severe reliance on contract/outsourced positions completely tanks morale across virtually every department. * Resources are spread too thin. Nothing seems like a real priority, and many teams cannot meet unrealistic expectations because of it. * Most of the upper management seems disconnected from their employees and the customers. There are a few definite exceptions, however. * Upper management seems to be unable or unwilling to change, either because they are ignoring reviews like these or not seeing them. Employees certainly aren't telling them these things, because they do not want to risk getting on someone's bad side and losing the political game. * Poor compensation for most departments. * When problems are presented to HR they seem to ignore them. If these problems are not being ignored it seems they can do nothing about them, which is even more frightening.

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  9. Helpful (11)

    "Overworked in the trenches, mismanagement at the top"

    3.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Content Designer in Bellevue, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at ArenaNet full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    * Crazy-talented developers who are passionate and clever about what they do. * You'll never not be amazed by the artists and sound team. * "Flat" team structure. Got a question? Roll your chair a few feet and ask away. * Good collaborative environment. Good ideas and solutions can come from anyone and anywhere. * Good insurance package. * Profit sharing can give vested staffers a nice bonus. * Annual Christmas gift in the form of a nice piece of tech or cash. Last year, all staffers got a PS4.

    Cons

    * Morale is dropping, veterans are departing. * Company feels rudderless. Upper management are virtually walling themselves off from the rest of the company. * Decision to move to Living World (with content updates every two weeks) was not well thought through and poorly implemented. Long hours, meddling from upper management, poor communication from the top who expected epic Hollywood production without investing in new technology or manpower. * Inexperienced producers. Some are struggling but doing great work, others will ride their teams into the ground. * Long, brutal crunches that can last months. Burnout is becoming commonplace. * Petty senior personnel who will throw people under a bus if they don't get their way. * Poor pay, hard to attract and keep talent. Especially programmers. * Growing reliance on temp talent. It's a long, hard slog to get converted to full time. Unless you get hired on as full time, expect to be on a temp contract. * Willingness by upper management to let designer vacancies stay vacant at a time when talent is sorely needed. * Hard to take time off without feeling like you are abandoning the team. * Everything seems one step away from crisis mode. * Buggy internal tools. * Problematic staffers who should have been fired long ago are still employed because of seniority/who they know. * No incentive to reward clever thinking or hard work.

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  10. Helpful (9)

    "Amazingly talented, passionate people; failing company culture and incompetent management."

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
     
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at ArenaNet

    Pros

    - The majority of people are very talented, dedicated, and passionate about their work as developers and fans of the game. - Work hours are flexible and there are daily catered lunch options you can order. - There are lots of fluff benefits (free snacks, drinks, open game room).

    Cons

    I'll start off by saying that the company has gone downhill alarmingly fast in the past year, and in addition to the points below, I'd agree with everything else other glassdoor reviews have highlighted about the current cons of working here. - Compensation: ArenaNet has always paid below the industry standard for most, if not all, of its positions, but this didn't matter as much in the past for many people because there was an amazing company culture to make up for it where you felt that your contributions mattered and that there were opportunities to advance. This is no longer the case, and salaries have not only lagged behind, but opportunities to advance have also been greatly reduced. - Upper Management is poor: Some directors and design leads pay more attention to graphs and data then what people both in and outside of the studio are saying, and this often ends up with projects either being poorly prioritized, scoped beyond what a team can handle, or just driven in the wrong direction. The majority of the people driving the studio are severely out of touch with/don't care about the people in the trenches and the players. - HR doesn't care: After GW2 launch, the company started bleeding talent, but there was no visible effort to fix this problem. Instead of hiring (very qualified TFTs) internally for openings, there was an increased focus on bringing in new contractors instead and outsourcing the QA department. This had a substantial effect on company morale as everyone started to question their job security. Multiple people raised concerns about this situation with HR, but no concerns were addressed. - HR won't make hard decisions: There are a number of people in the studio who don't perform, but because of their personal connections (as friends, spouses, etc), they aren't fired. - Production doesn't schedule teams well: Crunch time lasts far longer than it should, projects end up far out of scope, and deadlines are frequently treated as movable guidelines. Despite the desire to make quality content, a lot of teams are forced to quickly move from project to project, which has resulted in releases far below the quality they deserve.

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Found 17 reviews