Hothead Games Reviews | Glassdoor.co.uk

Hothead Games Reviews

Updated 19 September 2018
44 reviews

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2.9
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Ian Wilkinson
33 Ratings

44 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (1)

    "10 year veteran of the mobile industry"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Designer in Vancouver, BC (Canada)
    Current Employee - Senior Designer in Vancouver, BC (Canada)
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Hothead Games full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Good work/life balance - there is no 'expectation' that you will be doing OT. I've found myself doing it because I want to get specific things into the games I work on, but that is completely because of my passion for the things I feel will make a better game. Note, this type of initiative is encouraged (not the OT, the experimenting with aesthetic choices to make a more personal experience)

    Good, non-insular teams - if you're on one of the 'core' teams (KSB/HH), chances are high you will be in high demand on that team. However, you have probably also worked closely with people on other teams that you either came from, or they went to. Cross-team discussion and assistance is absolutely encouraged, and I find myself engaged in that A LOT

    Good benefits - both the provided benefits package and the on-site (massage/RMT, gym usage, trainers, snack food/drink, free lunch once a week) are a definite welcome. Nothing over-the-top relative to the rest of the industry, but enough that it makes you feel like you are appreciated without being these benefits setting up some _expectation_ of more work/time spent

    Cons

    Currently, unclear direction - the business and artistic direction has generally been fairly transparent, and easy to set a course by. At the moment, this path is being discussed as open for change, so some people may find this to be distressing (despite no indicators to any negative outcome)

    A downturn on team-building exercises has led to a more stagnant 'getting to know you' feel in the office. For example, some of the team days in the past, including gun range visits, movie days, company picnic, etc... are not only a morale boost, but they offer a chance for employees to connect completely removed from the workspace atmosphere

    Advice to Management

    Set the current goals in a concrete fashion to settle any outliers that see things as 'unstable'. This is one of the better companies I have worked for (I'd argue the best in the local mobile, and I've been at 5 studios in the last 10 years, including HH), and getting a handle on unsettled people would be the only thing really needed right now to stay the course on what is a very good place to work.

    A course-correct on this would bump the 'culture and values' rating up to 4 stars ;)


  2. Helpful (1)

    "One of the best companies I've ever worked for"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Programmer in Vancouver, BC (Canada)
    Former Employee - Senior Programmer in Vancouver, BC (Canada)
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Hothead Games full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Competitive salary.
    Good work life balance, opportunity to work flexible hours and can even work from home occasionally if needed.
    Transparent management, regular town halls, and staff have the opportunity to raise questions for execs at lunch & learn each week.
    Great office near Stanley Park (used to be Facebook's Vancouver office).
    Rooftop deck with bbqs.
    Beer (and wine and cider) Fridays.
    Lunch provided once per week (lunch & learn).
    Good benefits (extended health, dental, and life insurance, free gym on site, $1,000 RRSP match).
    Free snacks, fruit, and drinks.
    Espresso machine.

    Cons

    Uncertain future.
    The tech stack isn't the best. Hothead use a in-house C++ engine maintained by a very small team. May be a downside to some.
    Annual reviews aren't very unified (feedback is down to whatever team you're working on).
    Lack of innovation.
    Poor planning and documentation can be a blocker.

    Advice to Management

    Keep going, and stay transparent.
    See if there are opportunities to take design risks (on smaller titles perhaps) vs copying economy models that aren't fully understood by the studio (looks like this has already started to happen).
    3rd party publishing is difficult to do effectively and time consuming. Make sure that Hothead's own games are getting sufficient focus moving forward.

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Great work environment with amazing co-workers"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Lead Game Designer in Vancouver, BC (Canada)
    Former Employee - Lead Game Designer in Vancouver, BC (Canada)
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Hothead Games full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    - Amazing co-workers
    - Flat structure meant the ability to speak directly to any lead/owner in the company
    - CEO do regular town halls, speaking directly to each team along with showing exactly the status of the company (Profit/loss, short and long-term company goals, etc).
    - The work environment is relaxed and great work/life balance
    - "Full stack" mobile studio: Every aspect of game dev is done in-house (marketing, audio, art, designer, code, QA, etc). As someone on a live product team, being able to sync with and collaborate directly with marketing to understand and manage budgets was tremendous
    - Weekly lunch and learns to learn/present what is going on in the company and or the industry
    - Lots of perks: large free gym with daily free classes (yoga, cardio/strength training, tryitout! ), yearly education budget, snacks (some healthy) and coffee, solid extended befits, pays MSP, RSP matching
    - Good location, rooftop deck (with BBQ) with a great view of North Vancouver. Tons of great restaurants within walking distance.

    Cons

    - Unwilling to kill underperforming projects hurt overall company morale as the mantra at the time was "Fail fast and learn from mistakes" (This mindset looks to be changing as of late for the positive)
    - Handfull of high performing legacy games must be worked on with dated tech (lack of solid tools, means longer than normal task times for event minor changes)
    - Heavy emphasis on KPIs (Good), but one-off manager requests for unique data lacked direction ("What would be the action to take if we look at the data that way")
    - Lack of clear career growth chart rolled out for each discipline
    - At times would get differing direction from multiple owners on the same subject. This meant confusion and wasted time going back to each owner to sort confusion (This issue has been acknowledged and looks to be changing as of late for the positive)
    - Growth opportunities and or salary increases should come directly from an employees manager, not one of the studio owners Not coming from your direct report (the person that knows your work the best), makes the opportunity/salary increase feel a bit hallow. At times it could feel like only a retention plan instead of acknowledgment of hard work/success in your role

    Advice to Management

    - Continue driving for studio wins while having an open door/town hall policy for employees to voice issues and be heard.
    - Surface the total monthly studio costs in the financial dashboard and or in town halls for everyone to better understand the weekly/monthly financials of the studio to reduce any confusion of "The last month we made X, but with the month we made Y, is that good or bad". If your job isn't tied directly to the KPIs, fluctuating values without context can breed anxiety.
    - If projects are underperforming you must cut them, learn and take the added savings to drive other/new projects. Stick by the mindset of "fail fast and learn"


  4. Helpful (1)

    "A great company to work for!"

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

    I worked at Hothead Games full-time

    Pros

    Awesome people, good salary, nice benefits, excellent location and office environment. Highly creative environment! Lots of autonomy and flat hierarchical structure. Good managers.

    Cons

    no apparent cons at Hothead for me personally.


  5. "A bright future is ahead!"

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

    I have been working at Hothead Games full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great people, great perks, CEO is caring and inspiring, weekly lunch & learns, fitness/yoga classes, charity and social committee

    Cons

    I'm the new (and first ever) HR Director for Hothead, and there is alot of work to be done here. The foundation is pretty solid, and I think the leadership team really does try their best to be transparent. Lots of changes, lots of mistakes have been made but I do believe they are making strides to improve. I joined Hothead because the people are really great and the CEO truly cares about his people. I knew a dozen people here before I started and they all seem pretty happy to be here. The game industry is tough, working in a creative yet technical environment can be challenging for anyone, but I have high hopes that we will rally together and succeed! Anyone who knows me, will know that I always do my very best to help make people feel safe, appreciated and happy.

    Advice to Management

    We're heading in the right direction!


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Avoid!! Beware of Fake Reviews. Don't make the mistake I made!!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Hothead Games full-time

    Pros

    - location
    - perks: gym and snacks
    - flex hours
    - transparency

    Cons

    I never really write reviews but had to do this one.

    - weak leadership team - wastes time on things that don't matter and does not focus on things that drive results
    - have to play teacher's pet to survive
    - archaic infrastructure that is not up to industry standard and is not willing to change
    - very poor management - creates a hostile environment that does not allow differing opinions - does not see the benefit of having more than one perspective
    - management uses intimidation as a control/persuasion tactic as oppose to logical appeal
    - low job security
    - high turnover, at least 5 people have quit in the last few months - most were high performers
    - overall, just a mess with a negative outlook (goes back to point about job security earlier)
    - Fake reviews all around, read them carefully and you can spot them from the honest ones

    Advice to Management

    Listen to your employees.

    To quote other reviews:
    " You lose lots of top talent because you force people to "fit in or get out" rather than create an inclusive company culture that promotes including a diverse group of people. This results in in a myopic view of products that you deem viable, which leaves dollars on the table."

    "You are on top, you have no reason to be aggressive towards employees or assert your dominance."


  7. Helpful (8)

    "Best Avoided"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Vancouver, BC (Canada)
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Vancouver, BC (Canada)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Hothead Games full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - The majority of people at Hothead are pretty great. I can't deny that.
    - Employee benefits
    - Free drinks/cofee in the kitchen
    - Employee gym

    Cons

    - The company lacks innovation. They just try to rehash successful ideas from other games and hope it makes money.
    - Much of the senior management creates a hostile and unfriendly work environment. You learn quickly that it's not in your best interest to question how things are done. If they don't like you, you're often singled out.
    - Very little job security. The turnover rate was crazy. When I worked here, it seemed like every other week they'd send out an email letting you know somebody was let go.
    - Little room to advance. They don't want to or have time to help you with that.
    - Average salaries. Nothing special.
    - Very noisy. It's an open office with no privacy.

    Advice to Management

    Start working towards making innovative games instead of just copying other studios with mediocre titles. On top of that, fix your senior management problem. Nobody wants to work for a company when they're put down and made to feel unimportant. Fix your internal problems instead of asking your employees you give you 5-star Glassdoor and App Store reviews.

  8. "Anonymous"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Comp & Benefits
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Hothead Games full-time

    Pros

    Lots of perks and benefits, Good salary.

    Cons

    I could not think of any.

    Advice to Management

    Poor decision making.


  9. Helpful (10)

    "I’d look elsewhere"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - 3D Artist in Vancouver, BC (Canada)
    Former Employee - 3D Artist in Vancouver, BC (Canada)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Hothead Games full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    There is occasional snacks and unlimited coffee

    Lots of restaurants nearby, easy to get lunch

    Awesome location downtown, a really great place to walk

    Cons

    The direction in the company seems to be lacking, we really don’t know what’s going on or if there are any long-range plans

    Heavy emphasis on analytics and KPIs, though we really don’t often actually see much of the data

    Poor outlook. Multiple products have performed badly.

    Open concept office; lots of noise so headphones are a must at all times

    Advice to Management

    Try to be more open about how the games and the company are doing.


  10. Helpful (9)

    "Not an innovative company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Engineer in Vancouver, BC (Canada)
    Former Employee - Engineer in Vancouver, BC (Canada)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Hothead Games full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    - Big gym
    - Unlimited coke, sweet and caffeine.
    - Most people are nice.

    Cons

    - Boring
    - Not embracing new technologies
    - Game design not innovative at all, just copy others or re-skin previous games.
    - Promotion is rare. People who can talk, cry or get along with management will get promote.

    Advice to Management

    Don't trick their staff with so-called stock option.


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