NCSOFT Employee Reviews about "studios"

Updated Feb 26, 2019

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3.1
47%
Recommend to a Friend
40%
Approve of CEO
NCSOFT CEO Songyee Yoon
Songyee Yoon
52 Ratings
Pros
  • "The specific studio I am/was at had an incredible office culture, and a really admirable adherence to keeping a healthy work/life balance(in 10 reviews)

  • "In the golden years, NCsoft (Austin/West) was a great place for opportunity and learning(in 9 reviews)

Cons
  • "No control over the products they support, everything must get approval from HQ (Korea)(in 21 reviews)

  • "This whole experience gave me the impression that HQ is pretty clueless about how to manage their western studios(in 10 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

Reviews about "studios"

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  1. Helpful (5)

    "Really good at giving you a ton of rope to hang yourself with."

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in San Mateo, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    * Little intervention from the HQ in South Korea meant we enjoyed a surprising amount of freedom and agency in making our game. * Pay was barely competitive with the rest of the SF market * Benefits were good * The specific studio I am/was at had an incredible office culture, and a really admirable adherence to keeping a healthy work/life balance. We're getting shut down, though, so I don't know what surviving studios are like.

    Cons

    * All that freedom I mentioned came at the cost of upper brass decision making feeling really distant and opaque culminating in our studio getting canned just when we thought we were about to launch with a (hopefully) successful game. This whole experience gave me the impression that HQ is pretty clueless about how to manage their western studios. * Rev share was promised (more like dangled at the end of a stick) and now is just moot because we (the studio that made the game) aren't going to be around when the game finally launches.

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  2. Helpful (20)

    "No logic, no communication"

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

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

    Pros

    This was the best group of people I've ever worked with. Everyone put their heart and soul into each days' work and it really showed. Together we grew and made some amazing things.

    Cons

    Nobody knows what the hell is going on upstairs. Nothing passed down to us made sense. Either management wasn't telling it to us straight, or they simply had no information (I suspect mostly the latter, though don't doubt some of the former). The incredibly talented team at Carbine was put through the wringer over and over to meet expectations that were not clarified. There were 'failures' that were given no explanation as to why exactly it was perceived as a failure. Where the team achieved great success with the impossible demands over and over, the goons up above looming over the Approve Button wouldn’t be able to find a sofa in their own living room with a map, Siri, and road signs, let alone a great game. The team delivered on EVERYTHING that was asked of them and more. It seems clear as things have been changing that NCSoft is moving into a more publisher-only realm with little interest in putting money into studios to develop their own content. You'll see them scavenging GDC looking for great ideas that have been independently funded that they'll eat up and take credit for. Seller beware, your greenlight process from here on out will just be a series of red lights at intersection after intersection with no one else on the road but you. Look out for the cliff at the end of it. And oh yes, the offboarding fiasco. What an embarrassment. Trying to be 'hip,' the NCSoft's portal webpage is skinned as an RPG experience. After being laid off, you have to go through this circus, which lists your Unemployment Benefits under a category called "Loot," and agreements you have to sign before receiving your severance are called "Quests" you have to complete. A little NCSoft robot mascot comes on screen to seemingly taunt you with a 'thank you' for working there and good luck on your next adventure.

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  3. Helpful (8)

    "Steer Clear"

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

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

    Pros

    Some genuinely great people attempting to make this a functional and rewarding workplace and (before Carbine was closed) make some compelling new games. Competitive-to-high base compensation. Some 'modern tech company' type bonuses like weekly donuts/fruit, company outings, holiday parties, etc. etc. Contract to publish Harmonix' next game could hold some compelling new opportunities for success. Ability to put in minimal effort and make a decent paycheck.

    Cons

    The running joke, which may not actually be a joke, is that NCsoft (U.S.) is run at a loss purposely to avoid taxation of the money sent over by the profitable Korean company. It's the only plausible explanation for the bizarre and at times schizophrenic decisions, questions, and demands that are made. Execs are out to lunch. The primary executives running the company don't have a clear direction or intent for the company. They let clear profit drivers go or take on clear profit-losing projects. Or they read a Newsweek article about Fortnight and then ask why our games don't make billions of dollars. Seriously. Wholly owned subsidiary = licensee nobodies. The entire NCsoft game publishing division are treated like drones. There's little-to-no agency, no chance to improve products, and very little allowed to help adapt products to their market. From what I'm told games are essentially changed only so much as to avoid outright negative backlash, but that's all. There are no developers in the U.S. offices that touch any PC titles, so we just put out whatever they give to us. Although NCsoft in the US is a part of the NCsoft company in Korea, it might as well be a third party licensee. Lack of passion/desire for excellence. If the executive leadership communicates with the employees (which is rare) it doesn't provide any framework for how to be successful, and it sends a signal of being ok with mediocrity. Stringing people along. The CEO of NCsoft U.S. (the wife of the CEO for the Korean HQ) will send an email once every few months with generic platitudes on how they're working to make things better, or how our employee survey results are being taken seriously, but of what little substance those emails have or plans to improve things have all been empty promises. HR projects are stopped after months of development, manager training programs are shelved, and small little blips that give anyone hope that things might actually be improving are just one-time blips or never materialize at all. "Never Ending Change" is one of the core company philosophies. It's also a running joke because it's obviously a bad translation from Korean, but it's a "funny but true" statement. This is a company that doesn't know what it's doing, so it constantly changes hoping it'll find a combination that works. Or maybe it doesn't want to find one! (see Con #1) 401k matching is a joke. They put in a percentage of what you contribute, and don't match your full contribution. The two other studios I've worked at matched up to a percentage (3-4%) of your total pay, here they match a percentage of the percentage you put in. It was funny to get emails celebrating how they raised contribution matching up to 6% of what you've contributed! So if you divert say 1% of your take home which ends up being $100 from each paycheck, they'll put in $6. They don't even match your 1%. It's a percentage of a percentage. Puzzle-piece company. Some leadership is in Austin, some in OC, some in Seattle, some in San Francisco, etc. This is from years of the company moving their HQ from state to state (curious if those moves match with changing state tax laws...) meaning that there's leadership spread all over the country. That leaves entire departments with no direct leadership in their office, and even less of a reason to perform positively in their roles. It's a Korean company. This might be a Pro if you're Korean or used to it, but if you're from the U.S. and are used to working in U.S. studios this can be a big shock. Koreans run businesses very differently, and in my experience it leads to a lack of clarity or direction. Title and hierarchy are everything. If you don't have a specific job title there are levels of people that won't even speak with you. Koreans don't say "no", it's considered rude, so communication issues are constant and can lead to months of wasted time and effort. Saving face (chaemyeon) is everything. Many conversations are "pretend" because they are being polite or saving face. What you do is not as important as what you appear to be doing. Lack of direction for game production. A CDO was brought in to help right the ship in relation to Carbine and the San Mateo mobile studio, but the result was Carbine was closed, we were all let go, and San Mateo still hasn't actually launched a mobile title after 3+ years. The smart people there have already left or are leaving real soon. I think most employees are hoping for a success, but no one expects one because no one has clear direction of how to achieve one.

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  4. Helpful (9)

    "Honest Review"

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

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

    Pros

    Good Salary Little Crunch No weekends, at least while I was there

    Cons

    Studio management has very little power/control over what they make. Every thing has to be approved by Korea which making the Studio heads more like middle management. One of the worst annually review systems I have ever seen in a company. Everything is subjective without guidelines to be judged against. No Free Snacks Get the feeling the NCSOFT does not trust their studios and things go from very good one minute to very bad the next. Not transparent at all. NCSOFT likes to tell the studios one thing and then do another based off of knee jerk reactions. Very hard to plan long term because the studios are always in a "reaction" mode when feedback come back from Korea. Financially motivated company that wants to follow instead of lead.

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  5. Helpful (1)

    "Current employee motivated!"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Lead Game Designer in San Mateo, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I have been working at NCSOFT full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    I think management is finally getting it. We have leaders in right roles finally. If we take bad leadership out quickly we will be in good shape to meet goals. Road show is such a great idea to share more and get leaders out in front of employees what a great idea. place now at the studio that will hopefully make a difference. Benefits good especially in my location has Kaiser.

    Cons

    We are one company NCSOFT and ArenaNet is part of the team. Please include them more. Had no idea who studio leader was until recently. Why keep them separate? We should all know the products we are working on. It's exciting stuff for gamers to share across studios.

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  6. Helpful (4)

    "Interesting Experience"

    3.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Design Department in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    - Gaming - Creative Work - Flexible Hours - Downtown - Great Pay

    Cons

    - Leadership = Dictatorship - Horribly Run (from a business standpoint) - Promoting people just to keep them, not because they are qualified - Favoritism (to many 'besties' and not enough honesty) - Lack of knowledge of how to run/direct their own studios

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  7. Helpful (2)

    "Great people but no leadership, no direction and doesn't understand Western values."

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee -  in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great western studios and games with great potential. The people I worked with were great and despite the negative company culture we really enjoyed working together and tried to do the best we could with what we had.

    Cons

    Lack of western leadership and no long term strategy or planning make this company a frustrating place to work. They can't seem to keep any executive leadership in the West and have no idea what their doing. It seems that as a publisher they have no long term potential and will rely on the individual studios to find their own way.

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  8. "Morally Bankrupt"

    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 NCSOFT

    Pros

    Individual studios (ArenaNet, RIP Paragon, Carbine) offer a pleasant enough experience, and to the extent that you can be shielded from the executive shenanigans in Seattle or Seoul you may think everything is just fine.

    Cons

    Lack of direction. Inability to think differently and try new things. Poor use of shared services bogging down the individual development studios. Misleading bonus structure and shady payment practices resulting in a severe lack of trust and commitment at the highest levels. Terrible communication from HQ to NA studios, with an unfathomable reluctance to clearly voice disappointment effectively often resulting in massive amounts of wasted work and confusion among all parties. Almost blatant disregard for the long-term well-being of its employees.

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  9. Helpful (2)

    "The company seems to publish good games, but it is poorly managed."

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I have been working at NCSOFT full-time

    Pros

    The Seattle facility is in a good location. Owns studios, like ArenaNet, that are actually making good games.

    Cons

    Unclear direction from management. Management downsizes everyone except for people that are actually causing problems. People that are in charge of the Western game ports don't understand the market; they expect that what worked in Korea will work here.

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  10. "NCsoft was a great company to work for."

    4.0
     

    I have been working at NCSOFT

    Pros

    NCsoft had good benefits, a good culture, and it was awesome to be part of a large network of game studios.

    Cons

    Being part of NCSoft west... sometimes it felt as though they didn't cared as much about us as they did their Asian companies.

Found 12 reviews