Hothead Games Reviews | Glassdoor.ca

Hothead Games Reviews

Updated 16 April, 2017
26 reviews

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Ian Wilkinson
19 Ratings

26 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (2)

    "One of the best video game companies in the world; certainly the best I've ever worked for."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Lead Designer in Halifax, NS
    Current Employee - Lead Designer in Halifax, NS
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Hothead is company that clearly wants to be among the best in the world, and I admire their passion for making great products that connect millions of players across the world.

    The main strengths that I've seen in my 2 years here are many, but to summarize:

    - Hothead is unafraid to take risks with projects and target emerging trends in the market. This has led to a suite of titles poised to release in 2017 that are at the cutting edge. The main example of this fearlessness is its long-term commitment to real-time multiplayer technology and PvP. This decision alone, I believe, will secure its place in the market for years to come.

    - Hothead believes that anyone can contribute in a meaningful way to the company's current and future direction. This is the first and only company I've worked for that genuinely takes the opinions of its employees seriously; and even better, it acknowledges and rewards those employees. I have seen this firsthand, many times, over my two years here.

    - Hothead believes in hard work, but it truly knows how to unwind and have fun. It's an awesome place to work with great perks.

    - Hothead can own up to its past mistakes and use those moments as an opportunity to reflect and learn. That level of humility is critical to growth and success. Most leaderships teams that I've worked with suffer from a kind of institutional arrogance. It is simply not the case with Hothead - they could really have a big head about their past successes in the mobile market, but the leadership of this company is remarkably clear-eyed and grounded.

    - Hothead is unafraid of making tough decisions for the betterment of the company. They do not make these decisions lightly, and they can sometimes be painful, but they always do so for the right reasons. These decisions can range from shutting down a project to letting employees go that are not up to their standards. These are never easy decisions to make, but to Hothead's credit they go about these difficult moves in a classy and professional way.

    Ultimately, working at Hothead is like working for a professional sports team that is hungry for a championship title. If you share that passion and hunger, and can back it up with results, you will LOVE it here. And you will be rewarded for your efforts.

    Cons

    No company is perfect, and Hothead has a few things to focus on improving:

    - I think most teams would admit that the pace of work can feel overwhelming at times. Hothead is an ambitious company that wants to succeed, and it demands a lot from its teams. Simply put, if you don't have an internal drive to succeed and make great games, you may feel like the pace is too much at times.

    Having said that, I believe that the company is aware of this, and they're actively seeking to course-correct here.

    - I don't know if this is a "con", per se, but Hothead has a lot of strong personalities at every level, from leadership right down to each game team's junior programmers. This is a natural consequence of creating a "fighting spirit" in the corporate culture that wants to win. I've seen it rub certain people the wrong way, and that can admittedly be uncomfortable for some types of people.

    Is it a true "con"? I don't know. I think it depends on your perspective. I personally love it. It's a refreshing kind of change for me. But be warned: if you don't like confrontation or having your ideas challenged, you may not feel comfortable working here.

    - There are, admittedly, certain key areas in the company that are not quite world-class yet. It's an ongoing challenge to determine how we can improve them, and sometimes it runs against the dev teams' work. Having said that, the company is aware of where it must improve and is CONSTANTLY trying to improve them.

    Advice to Management

    This company is by far the best I've worked for. It genuinely wants to achieve global success, and I feel privileged to be a part of it. I don't know that I have any advice to impart to the leadership team that they're not already aware of, honestly.

    Instead, I'll just say that focus is going to be the key for this company moving forward. We need to find ways of eliminating the distractions that can surround our dev teams, and enable them to identify and hone in on the work that truly matters. I believe that the team I work on currently has enjoyed most of its success through eliminating distraction, finding a clear focus, and executing against it at a high level. I truly believe that if this company can incorporate an almost-Apple-like focus into its products, it will be met with worldwide success. And it's up to us as Hothead's employees to speak up and point out where and how we might direct this focus.

    There's a lot of great, talented people working here - it's a really amazing group of skilled game devs. We have all the pieces in play that we need; focus will help us to make the right moves.

    I felt obliged to write this review as a defense against some of the negative reviews I've read on here. No one asked me to write this review. I just think that some of these reviews are grossly misrepresentative of the company, and that bothers me a lot. This is a truly great company.


  2. Helpful (4)

    "A solid company that is getting better."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Lead Environment Artist in Vancouver, BC
    Current Employee - Lead Environment Artist in Vancouver, BC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Hothead Games full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Good co-workers
    A nice office
    Thursday lunches
    A sense of ownership in projects
    Talented employees
    Transparency with management

    I'm writing this review in response to a lot of other reviews for Hothead. In my 8 years working here I've never experienced any bulling or had a sense of toxic culture, so I was very surprised to read about it on Glassdoor. I've come out as transgender at work and felt nothing but acceptance and encouragement.
    This is a really good company that expects a lot from its employees.

    Cons

    Projects are over managed
    Games are all shooter based
    Overtime is normal
    Socializing between teams is rare
    Lower than average pay

    Projects that don't meet expectations tend to be shifted and re-worked on almost a monthly basis, which can be really hard on the devs. Some times the projects can feel either aimless, or have too much micromanagement from the top down.

    Hothead has gotten better every year I've been here, but it still has a lot of room to grow.

    Advice to Management

    I know mitigating loss is important, but it shouldn't be the driving factor behind the choices we make as a company. It feels like we're playing it too safe some times and that our games end up designed by committee, rather than letting the talents of your individual employees shine through.
    I want to restate that I think this company is better now than it ever has been, and I do see it getting better, slowly but surely.

    Hothead Games Response

    28 Mar, 2017 – HR Generalist

    Thanks for writing us a review! We certainly agree with you that we have an amazing bunch of talented professionals at Hothead - they are the backbone of our company and we recognize that by offering ... More


  3. Helpful (1)

    "Fantastic place to work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Vancouver, BC
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Vancouver, BC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    I enjoy working at Hothead Games because management is very approachable at all levels, including the CEO. They're always open to hearing your opinion on a topic and seem to honestly want to hear what you have to say. Makes you feel like you're really part of the solution.

    Cons

    Only 5 sicks days is very low, which leads to lots of sick employees coming to work which then gets others sick as well. An increased amount of sick days, or even unlimited days, but anything more than 2 days would require a doctor's note would be a wonderful change.

    Advice to Management

    See the Cons section.

    Hothead Games Response

    28 Mar, 2017 – HR Generalist

    Thanks for writing us a review! At Hothead, we encourage an open and frank atmosphere where fair and honest treatment to everyone is expected - we value what our employees have to say and believe in ... More


  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. Helpful (6)

    "Poor Executive Team - Known to do fake reviews here"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Developer in Vancouver, BC
    Former Employee - Software Developer in Vancouver, BC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Good perks for staff. Coffee, paid lunches, etc. Most low level staff are very friendly. Its the executive team that is the issue.

    Cons

    Exec team encourages workers post fake reviews here on a regular basis to bury bad reviews.
    Executive infighting led to lots of work being done multiple times or poor design decisions are made because of one executive just wanting to get their way.
    There's a glass ceiling. Executives are all waiting for a sale or a payout so promotions are not going to happen.
    Very bro-culture and not female friendly. Only a handful of females working there.

    Advice to Management

    Happy workers and therefore good reviews come from the top down. 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.


  6. Helpful (9)

    "keep on your toes"

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

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

    Pros

    Many very skilled employees work for Hothead. There are also a lot of very active and fit people around. Most of their games are fun to play so it is not a chore to keep up with what is going on with company product

    Cons

    There is an expression at Hothead: "There is no HR". You are expected to fend for yourself in a hostile environment. The best way to survive is to suck up to the management as many or them have fragile egos. Do not go to management for help as you will appear weak. If you are not able to take some bullying then you do not belong with the guys.

    Advice to Management

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

    Hothead Games Response

    21 Mar, 2017

    This is Mike Inglehart, Creative Director at Hothead Games and first off thank you so much for taking the time to send in your review. By receiving your feedback, we can only make Hothead Games an ... More


  7. Helpful (3)

    "Was not all bad for me till the end"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Vancouver, BC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Vancouver, BC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Hothead Games full-time

    Pros

    Many talented people
    Free drinks
    Free food
    Summer BBQ's
    Beer on Fridays
    HR tries hard and is approachable
    Good location for food drinks downtown

    After reading all the reviews and talking to current and previous employees I had to write a review when I really wanted nothing more to do with Hothead. Before I get to the cons the happy people seem to be the long term employees and not the people hired in the past couple of years. Also it appears to be certain departments and teams that have the main issues. I know as former QA that we are not valued and not treated as valued team members by certain team members but no all. To judge Hothead as big bad place is not fair when it can be traced to a few people in power and 1 or 2 teams that are bringing down the reputation of the studio. When you have many long term people who are set in their ways (and allowed to be) the clash between new staff that want to improve the studio and make changes will lead to studio issues. I would bet most of the people that have left or been terminated where from 3 years and under for the most part.

    Cons

    QA is not used in a effective way. No time estimates for testing features. (learned about this from someone that left)
    Knowledge in QA is lacking as no new ideas are brought in.
    Hired a person to be new QA manager, he identified many areas of improvement. He taught us more in 3 months then I had learned in over a year. He upset a game team by showing us new tricks and was complained about openly about in meetings for our extra 1000 bugs we entered. He was rough around the edges but he knew how to do the job and put the team first. (Not Really a con except for losing him)
    His ideas are being used but not fully implemented (as no one knows how to)
    If on a certain team you will get in trouble for entering too many bugs. QA's job is to enter bugs and should never get in trouble for doing the job hired to do.
    People in QA are dismissed without cause.
    Current QA leadership has a system of protect their jobs and keep managers happy. Not much mentoring as they are not growing themselves so how can they properly mentor us.
    Everyone but QA can be late.
    QA held accountable for late features that have bugs when they did not have enough time to test. ( By this I mean late fixes on items that should have been pushed maybe to another release)
    For some games the mentality is get the game out and do hotfix latter.
    Upper management only talks to QA when in trouble or to tell us we need to work on a weekend.
    I know off many people that have been let go for no real reason.
    1 on 1's not useful and often rescheduled or rushed through.
    When doing something wrong not told or given a chance to correct.
    Games will have new features added the week of submission.
    Complaints and termination appear to go closely together.
    Most people say low pay.
    Caring too much is not rewarded.

    Advice to Management

    Use the data for all the people that left and been fired and see how long each person was with the company, what teams they were on and what manger signed off on the termination. This is one easy way to get hard metrics on some of the issues and take control of Hotheads image. Glassdoor has become the way the people that cared and left on a bad note to critique the company. This can be viewed as all bad or as a chance to really look at the current culture that is being built and projected. I have heard the saying we want to be better than Super Cell in many meetings, to do that you have to not just say it but follow what they do internally. It is easy to protect the long term people, but it is the new people that will take you to the next level.

    I truly hope that things get better.


  8. Helpful (3)

    "A really good company with great people."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Data Scientist in Vancouver, BC
    Current Employee - Data Scientist in Vancouver, BC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    - interesting, smart, and engaged people to work with
    - projects are well-planned and suit the individual's expertise
    - much food and drink provided throughout the day/week
    - modern office reasonably close to nice restaurants on Robson

    Cons

    - a bit of a walk from Waterfront or Burrard stations
    - parking limited and may be expensive because of the location in Coal Harbour

    Hothead Games Response

    21 Mar, 2017 – HR Generalist

    Thank you for taking the time to write us a review! We pride ourselves on the quality of our work and it certainly doesn't go without notice the amazing people you get to work with at Hothead. We ... More


  9. Helpful (7)

    "The Reality of a Revolving Door Mentality"

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

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

    Pros

    - Coworkers are typically great.
    - Emphasis on team building activities like Lunch & Learns, team events.
    - Buy-in Poker Nights were fun and competitive.

    Cons

    - Management culture was built around sink or swim, everyone is replaceable.
    - The staff is frequently dismissed without offering the chance for coaching, improvement, or warnings.
    - Rather than addressing undercurrents of bullying, management would rather just spend dollars to make it seem like there was a positive culture. No amount of expensive ping pong tables or free lunches makes up for the lack of human connection.
    - Management has publicly stated that they eventually want to just sell the company so they are in it for themselves to make money and leave.

    Advice to Management

    Old School Management techniques might work in the short-term to create economic growth, but if you want to actually build a team that's worth buying (and it's obvious they are here for the money), you'll need to ditch the ex-Radical corporate elitism and make an authentic human connection with your employees.

    Hothead Games Response

    21 Mar, 2017

    Hello, this is Mike Inglehart, Creative Director at Hothead Games and like all of our reviews, I wanted to first of all thank you for taking the time to send in your comments. We appreciate all ... More


  10. Helpful (3)

    "Biggest mistake of my career"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Dev in Vancouver, BC
    Former Employee - Dev in Vancouver, BC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Many talented employees who work hard and care about the product
    nice office
    good product

    Cons

    Poor management accountability
    toxic environment
    bullying not discouraged
    Your enjoyment will greatly depend on which team you are in

    Advice to Management

    If you want to be respected treat your employees with dignity

    Hothead Games Response

    21 Mar, 2017

    Hi Mike Inglehart the Creative Director of Hothead Games here and I wanted to say thank you for sending in the review of our company, we appreciate the time invested to write up your feedback ... More


  11. Helpful (8)

    "Great studio for some but not all"

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

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

    Pros

    - Amazing studio space
    - Industry-leading gym equipment
    - Competitive pay
    - Good work/life balance year-round
    - Great, AAA-level senior developers for questions and ad-hoc learning
    - Great benefits package
    - Annual golf tournament, no skill required!
    - in-progress greenlight system for new ideas
    - Looking to get acquired, and will get there soon

    Cons

    - pseudo-political corporate structure
    - no attempted mentorship structure
    - "new ideas" and product decisions decided by management
    - to-date reliance on obsolete game engine (Torque 3D)
    - Looking to get acquired--business before culture
    - (minor) doesn't currently give Christmas break off
    - "Pads its stats" by actively campaigning its happiest employees to write glassdoor reviews

    Advice to Management

    - Let small dev teams organize and pitch their own games
    - Shut down the studio between Christmas and New Year's
    - Repeat and grow your "experiment week" that happened last year


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