2015's best (and worst) game companies to work for: A review of employee feedback
We all love our video games, but the awesomeness of the game doesn't always translate into an awesome experience for the game's creators.
Back in 2013, we ran a ranking of the best and worst game companies according to employee feedback on Glassdoor.com. This is our 2015 update on the best and worst game companies to work for!
How this rating system works
Each company is rated out of a possible 5 points, and each CEO is rated out of a possible 100%. The number of votes cast is listed next to each rating.
Some smaller companies are included here because their Glassdoor.com presence is separate from their parent company. Other larger companies, such as Microsoft, do not have Glassdoor portals for their subsidiaries, and are therefore excluded.
For CEO reviews, N/A simply means that the CEO is too new to get an effective rating.
Enjoy, and comment below if you have a video game company that you feel was left out!
|Company||Rating: 1-5||Numbers of Company Reviews
|CEO Approval %||CEO Reviews|
|Nintendo of America||3.4||121||100%||3|
|Sega of America||3||33||60%||6|
|5th Cell Media||3||9||33%||3|
Riot Games is still OP
League of Legends' creator Riot Games came out as the number two game company to work for in 2013, but they took the number one position this time, just barely beating Valve.
The number of ratings implies that Riot employees might be asked by leadership to rate their own company, but even so, the rating comes out sterling. After all, other companies with even more reviews, such as Electronic Arts, still got rated much lower than Riot Games.
My speculation: Riot Games is happy because it only has one title and no formal release dates. When Riot wants to put out a product like a new character, skin, video, or gameplay change, they don't have to predict a timeline for consumers and distributors. If the product isn't ready, there's no "crunch time" where employees get hammered to make a date and put out an inferior product.
Even then, Riot Games must be doing something right. The culture and leadership climate must be genuinely focused on the best interests of the employees for so few of them to end up disgruntled and spewing hate about working at Riot.
In fact, many of the things employees said, good or bad, focused on culture:
"Riot believes in its cultural manifesto. Culture drives everything."
"The people and the culture are top of the line at Riot."
"True gamer culture."
"Strong culture means that if you're not a gamer or have high player empathy, you will likely have some issues fitting in."
Outside of culture, a lot of people emphasized the non-pay benefits:
"If you like to play games and work a lot, you'll love the office."
"If you want a comfortable life, good pay for developer standards, free food, and playing video games at work, then this is the place to be."
"Perks are incredible and competitive with top tech companies."
Average ratings went up!
In general, most companies either saw an increase or a standstill in ratings numbers. This could bode well for the gaming industry, implying that game companies simply treat their employees better than ever before. In fact, the best way to increase positive ratings is to simply give employees a more positive environment.
In addition to the real experiences of employees is the fact that the majority of game companies have become hyper-aware of public opinion. Most companies are probably encouraging or pushing employees to rate their own job. We can safely assume that negative ratings will not be tolerated, either. From reading the reviews, anyone can also see that senior leadership is going to Glassdoor.com and rating their own companies as well.
At least there's no evidence of payola, where outside people are being paid to make false ratings.
The worst gaming companies are all foreign-owned
Now, before you take that to mean that we actually believe that foreign companies are inferior, hear us out: Bandai, Atari, Konami, and CCP might actually be worse to work at, but this type of anomaly probably means that a number of offshore companies aren't worried about improving their Glassdoor ratings.
American companies may incentivize employees to leave positive ratings. On the other hand, Tencent Holdings, which owns Riot Games, is foreign too. We can't lump them all in together.
But it's okay for them to be indifferent. Not only are the foreign competitors probably not using Glassdoor for their hiring process in other countries, but there is probably also less trust in the rating system, as most of the rating is driven by American opinions on what work should be like. Foreign leaders simply might not care what their American employees think.
Of course, it could also be a cultural thing. Foreign gaming companies may not have the same emphasis on a relaxed culture or concern for public opinion as American ones. There's also the battle between offices in remote countries.
Bandai got our lowest rating, and among the many complaints of former workers, the international issue came up more than once. Here is what a couple of Bandai employees said:
"Great properties if Japan would let the Americans actually develop games."
"Setting up a studio in Romania that performs the exact function as us in San Jose ... isn't exactly a show of confidence in our long term employment status."
And yes, even though the other top companies like Obsidian and Valve are 100% American, it could all just be a coincidence.
Player hate doesn't equate to employee hate
While gamers may revile game companies like Electronic Arts and Konami, that doesn't stop the employees from saying what they really think.
EA has rated well for employees despite being the worst company in America for consumers in the past.
Konami, on the other hand, still earned a tie for second worst game company to work for. Surprisingly, a lot of the criticism was that the company's corporate leadership was stuck in the past.
Not exactly what you'd expect to hear as a game creator's biggest issue, especially when Konami has a nearly-universal reputation for hating video games and gamers.
Typical Konami reviews went something like this:
"Konami uses a lot of out dated methods."
"Management is stuck in the old times."
Welcome to 2015, where Konami doesn't care about video games, and the employees don't see that as the biggest problem.
A few companies have started over
Some of the companies from our last list have been absorbed into larger parent companies, making them defunct in terms of new ratings.
The former lowest scorer, 5th Cell, altered their company name to reset the ratings on Glassdoor.com. Their new, higher rating is inaccurate compared to the other companies that have weathered both good and bad times on the ratings.
Also, a few of the company CEOs have changed over the years, which effectively resets the CEO rating.
Trust your own values
If you still want to work for a low-rated game company because you truly love the titles they work on, then do it! There are certainly those of us who don't mind working extreme hours under pressure as long as the product is something incredible.
Plus, a lot of these companies will still be appealing to industry newbies, as any AAA business really boosts your résumé.