If you want a comparison, watch the movie CASINO. After 2014 was the last few minutes/scenes from Casino.
Some of this I’ve known for 20 years as have many others but to others, some of this information is a shock:
KEEP IN MIND THIS IS EVEN BEFORE THE INFLATION ISSUES OF TODAY
- They bait the BEST employees in the world because they are interested in games or the content. They’re straight out of college (or dropouts of high school in 1 case I saw) and are excited to work on GAMES, a life dream. It certainly was my dream since 1980. In the beginning, there just used to be this room with piles of job applications back before switching to emailing job applications. Who knows if they got through every application.
- Because they hire the best in the world and can literally choose through 100s, 1000s, of applications, that puts in a very hostile environment where the best of the best of competing with each other, f-ing each other over for their piece of the pie and to climb the ladder. The benefit is you get to work with the best and maybe learn a lot (huge opportunity), (or you get fucked by it), or more positively you get your name on a product or work in a product with millions in sales.
There was a tesla job that had 800 applications in 2021 to give you a comparison.
- Now typically you avoid this corporate backstabbing and ladder climbing nonsense by joining a company that is about honor and achieving a shared goal instead of $$$ but that wasn’t really the case at all in the final years. However, in the first 10-15 years, at least until 2005+ when that one game exploded, it was an honorable place where people just wanted to make games and were proud to do so. (if you didn’t get harassed or weren’t a woman). The success of one game and the parent company buyout in 2007 is what really started toward the downhill path but the bonuses were great until 2014 at least.
- People hiring at other companies used to super care if you worked there and if you left, you would get jobs with huge promotions and raises until the scandals started. haha. This QA nerd took off and became a vice president and that was pretty common for people leaving. “If you work at X, you can get a job anywhere!” Some people would leave, get promoted several times then come back because they couldn’t get that done at the company (common).
WORST PAY EVA
Luckily I got rich by 401k and buying my house otherwise I would have been left with nothing. Day to day wise I never have cash because you can’t use your 401k until age 59 and you can’t get money from your house value.
- They pay the worst in the industry (which was known since 1990s) because they count on you to be so excited about the games or content you’re working on. OMG! I get to work on game X. And for many people that’s fine and they don’t care about the money. It’s great to not care about money and just care about how fun and enjoyable your job is (and they exploit that) but long term, especially for families, inflation, and retirement, you NEED to be making decent money or once your job concludes, you have nothing.
- People shortly realize just how bad you’re getting f-ed on pay. Typically they’d work there a year or so and then wake the fuck up about their situation. At the same time, the company would tell you nonsense about how they’ve done studies and worked with 3rd party X to make sure that salaries and benefits are competitive. Such bullshit. I must have been lied to at least 100s of times in my time there. Just go to glassdoor. I spent hours laughing at the reviews and collecting them.
- NEW: To give you an idea on how bad the pay was, the poverty rate was $87,000 salary for Orange County in 2018. The average salary in Irvine is $137,000. Now this place paid you sub $100k for most people (check glassdoor). I gave my bosses a spreadsheet of costs, inflation, raises, and the drop in profit-sharing. They passed me to HR. HR told me, “here’s how pay works”, you’re in the X part of the payscale), DO YOU HAVE ANY MORE QUESTIONS? In no way did they say hey you might get a raise or we realize we’re paying you jackshit. It was like a GM talking to you, not solving your game problem, and then going is there anything else that I can help you with today? (you never helped me in the first place). I had proven their pay is shit and they didn’t have any plans on doing anything about it. It was then I began to plan to leave. I spent many months on my resume and a website portfolio. This was quite challenging because it’s hard, to sum up decades of work into short bytes for a job.
- My first job offer out of college was from Western Digital for $50,000 in 1997. I turned down that offer and chose this place. I was in love with the game that made me famous over the previous 2 years and was willing to work for less to get a chance to work at the BEST video game company. But this place gave me $10 an hour and in their defense, I started at the bottom of the company, QA (anyone crying about QA in the industry should realize QA, while necessary, is at the BOTTOM). But I only got $10 because I talked them up from $8 an hour which all the other employees were paid (in QA). They had no idea I was getting $2 more an hour (I felt elite knowing that). I actually had a degree that was related to the industry completed shortly after joining unlike most of the 8-10 QA people, however, 6+ of them went on to great things and be bosses and far more successful than I and deservedly so. One made that CARD game that has made $1 billion. I did 6 months in QA at $10 an hour driving 3 hours a day to reach the office and return. I then threatened to quit. I said I couldn’t afford to drive 3 hours a day and $10 an hour to work here when I can’t even rent an apartment (1 bedroom was $950). Even In-N-Out was paying $10 an hour at the time. It was then a famous boss got me a job on the website (which was ONLY updated like every 6 months other than news or map of the week post). The moment I joined I said hey, would you like your website to be updated MORE OFTEN? But they said they “were very happy with their current webmaster” (who never updated). But when I joined the web and they finally put me on salary, they gave me fucking $29,000! I had to get raises until 2005 to reach $50k base salary. One day 10 people quit and they gave me an instant $4,000 raise and 2 free games (ever after that). They created a free game library. I was able to make slightly over $50k with overtime though in my first year.
- Used profit-sharing to make up for the shitty salaries. Your salary would blow and each paycheck would suck and you’d struggle but then you’d be gifted with a good bonus 3 times a year. But you could NEVER count on it. They would tell you to NEVER COUNT ON THEM. Some years it would be there while years went by where it was too low. But overall everything worked out when profit-sharing combined with the shit salary until 2014 when they decided to no longer pay old-timers a bonus % based on their years of service. Newbs would complain that lower-level people (but long-time employees) would get a better bonus than them, but that was because they FUCKING LITERALLY built the company with their work. The only reason these newbs had a job was that the old-timers had built something for them to join. Zero fucking respect. Fucking Millennials/Gen Y. However, post 2014, without the good profit-sharing you were just left with the shitty salary.
Cut to 2021 where the newbs want all the old-timers dead IRL.
It was after that point in 2014 that the place started clearing out. The idea was to pay new people those bonuses (they hadn’t earned them), but the problem with that idea was that new people didn’t care about the company or what they were creating. They were just people applying to a job at a company they didn’t especially care about. They only cared about the money and so often they would wait until a bonus payout and then quit. The old-timers (except for a die-hard list of 25-30) had no reason to stick around anymore if they weren’t getting paid and could get much more elsewhere. The profit-sharing redistribution idea turned out to be the worst idea and literally destroyed the place. They shouldn’t have given into the newbs. “We want to be able to hire the best people!” (who don’t care about games or the company).
The funniest shit in 2021 was someone started and quit only 3 weeks later. I wish I was around to see if someone beat that record. Let’s try for 1 week. haha.
My hobby for the last 3 year was documenting and counting how many people left and laugh each time. (because there’s nothing you can do about it). Everyone left on a Friday. I’d be like oh shit it’s Friday why has no one quit today. (then one would come in). Or random people would quit on a Tuesday or something and I’d be like, what an idiot, wait until Friday.
- They told you for 7 years, that next year is going to be a bad year but after that, things were going to be better! (bait and switch) We’re hiring more people. We’re going to release more products! BUT THAT NEVER HAPPENED! Anytime they did do better (record profits) they never passed it down. If they had just not hired those people everyone would have had a decent salary but instead, the money went ALL to the top. Only the top got stock while the majority of people got ZERO STOCK. I had more BAD years in a row than people who have career years. Working 7 years at a company is a major achievement for most people. But the next year was always worse than the previous year, represented by a continued nosedive or downward trend on the chart. You wished you had the previous year when you got to the next year (for 7-8+ years). I thought last year was bad but the next year was even worse! (each year).
- When you complained about pay or cost of living, they told you OH they’d look into the cost of living increases (a 1 bedroom went from $950 to $3000+ in 20 years). But they never did do anything to address the cost of living in 5-7+ years. Imagine working there this year with 10-20% inflation? Then this leader guy that kept telling that lie about researching the cost of living got fired. hah. Even when 1300+ people complained over 2-3 years, they still never did ANYTHING for anyone. They didn’t even come in and say sorry or we understand. They had no problem hiring people UNLIMITED and never put a cap or slowed it down. All those new people got the $$ that should have gone to the existing employees. They let people complain and did zero to help them even when it was 1/3rd of people. They required you to live in the richest area in California but would never pay you to live there. (as mentioned below). People continually saw that they were never paid and left en mass (along with 3-5 other reasons).
- They force everyone to live in the most expensive area in America short of San Francisco or downtown NYC, but that’s common in the tech industry until “the pandemic.” Originally that was because all of the bosses had houses on the beach they didn’t want to leave. Sorry peasants. Had an office in Texas but wouldn’t let people move there. Only some web people were able to trick the system to move there. (then quit 1-3 months later after arriving haha) Would not even come up with a remote policy for existing employees from 2020-2021 while at the same time hiring NEW People from fucking everywhere, including bosses. I had a boss in Texas, who quit pretty quickly after. He never even saw the campus or a building or a real person but they had no problem letting HIM work remotely. A new person got more money and remote work while existing people got fucked. Existing employees were told they can’t move. Total bullshit. I could have lived in Texas for 2 years in a giant house that went up in $400k in price over those two years (2020/2021). If I just did what most other existing employees did: ignore those fux and move anyway. That was the biggest mistake. I tried to go through official channels and do the right then and I got burned for it.
- Horror: They decided to save millions by picking RANDOM people and declaring them bad workers even if their reviews were great. The idea was to flag them as bad (regardless) and give them worse raises or pay. They went in and modified their reviews to downgrade them to a bad review. Some people never figured this out and it never spread. Only a few teams or bosses knew. I had that happen to me. The people lying to me were expert editors but they didn’t hide their tracks well enough. You could clearly tell it was a good review that they later came along and modified to turn it into a bad review. They were so lazy they just put a line between the old “good review” and the new “bad review.” They were so lazy that one complaint was something that had happened THAT day (late to a meeting, boss proceeds to be late to 50 other meetings). Once someone ratted out to me that the TOP of the company had directed everyone below to arbitrarily declare people bad workers to save X% and X million, it was clear that my boss had chosen me out of my group for that purpose. There were only 4 of us, and he already didn’t like me because I mentioned to him that some employees had privately messaged me that they didn’t want to return to the office if vaccines were required.
- They would pick lots of people and give them $0 raises. 0%!!! Inflation was 3-4% (now 20%). The people working there were LOSING money each year. Who the fuck gives people $0 raises. Then they would say it has nothing to do with your performance.
- NEW: They go, hey if you quit leaving, we’ll give you stock. Which was everyone’s dream. I immediately figured out that was a delaying tactic and my joke was “it’s going to be like grandma gives you stock.” Two months + later they finally gave the details. It was confirmed that the stock amount was fucking laughable considering their wealth or even compared to regular bonuses. They publically quote some insane number and act like they’re doing people a favor. It wasn’t even a typical Christmas bonus (10%). It WAS in fact, grandma gives a child a stock share. You’d get stock but ONLY if you stuck around until March 2024. Given the state of the company from 2019 on, who would expect to last that long? On top of that, they bought the stock on the WORST TRADING day. It was hilarious to see all the people who quit after they saw the stock amount. My boss lied (pretty much everything they said was a lie) that everyone got the SAME AMOUNT. I thought immediately that was bullshit and quickly confirmed via chat that some other people got more. They might have picked higher-level people for more $$ or game developers specifically but the point is, THEY LIED. After the “hey we bought the stock for you at the worst price.” the amount immediately dropped $700 from the initial number they quoted us. Then with further scandals and bad markets, the number continues to drop. I found that I made that same amount myself by just selling a few items online. Such a joke.
- NEW: Thanks to Obamacare, healthcare costs skyrocketed and I only recently discovered pouring over my paychecks that the company passed all those cost increases on to the employees instead of helping out. And they never pointed that out.
- If you left the company (within or outside the game industry), you get more pay, better benefits, better events, a better work-from-home budget, and don’t have to be ashamed to wear your company shirts. Everyone bailed in 2019-2021 especially once they realized that. This one girl I liked told me she now gets full remote work and a $30k raise. Who could argue with that? 1/2 of the people I know went to work for the competitor. The other half went to the founder’s new companies.
- While I was still there, I found out they posted my same job position online for $50,000 less. I happened to find it though. haha. They were so dumb that they go here’s a list of your job requirements. But they were so lazy that they were using a document for both a job listing AND my job requirements. When clearly, it was a job posting they intended to post later. Having worked on the jobs site for decades it was CLEARLY a job listing. They’re such morons. Unless it was some veiled attempt to threaten me, which might also be the case. I’d guess MORONS. Luckily I was already planning and working all that year to leave. Took them like 6 months after I left to hire for it though. Good luck living there on those dollars. I’d love to find that new person and tell them I was getting $50k more for that same job. haha.
- So while I definitely got f-ed past 2015-2016, so did everyone else except the execs, and whoever they gave the stock to. Even my friend (who no one knew he was my friend) had a douche boss (that is exposed in online news reports) that decided to remove his stock just to be a dick to him. When I joined the company he was their best player and challenged me to a 1v1. I won on sea and he won on land.
- Our main boss was an “editor-in-chief” who never posted ONE article that anyone could read publically. Online says he was someone in the past 2 decades but I never saw any evidence of it. He never did anything at all but go to meetings and “act like a boss.” or name drop every 5 seconds. His only job was being a boss sucking up $$$ and getting in the way of any accomplishments. As he lost almost his entire team of 9 people in a 1 and 1/2 year period, in the weeks his employees were quitting or leaving, he’d give them some massive bullshit project to work on in their final days on his team. They’d just delay and bullshit until they got off his team. What a sack of shit. He’s the type of person who literally ruined the company. He didn’t care what anyone was creating or accomplishing, he only cared about looking like a boss and getting paid. He came from SONY. He sure wasted their money @ director level. I had a lot of great bosses (over 24) and only this guy was bad but I ended on a down note with bosses.
- (5) people on my team under one boss NEVER got promoted over many years. They took off to other departments or companies just to get promoted. One moved to a community team and got 3 promotions in a short amount of time. I swear the boss was being paid to NOT promote people. While he would tell us he’ll always promote and go to bat for people if they deserve a promotion. Doublespeak. One friend gave him 1 BILLION pageviews (his work is still live), which anyone would literally kill for, and they would not promote him, past associate. He had succeeded more so than even I had, and they still wouldn’t promote him. Now he’s promoted a ton and makes 3x more elsewhere. haha. Plus he was secretly conservative and they never caught him. I would often rant about this to other employees.
- The “cool” campus wasn’t actually that cool I discovered. There are 50-100 better buildings even in the same city with cooler things. So they use the campus as a major selling point to work there (which I for sure SHILLED myself), but then it’s not actually that cool. Maybe it was cool in 2005. That was mind-blowing for me. I feel cheated. The only real benefit is the weather or safety of the city.
- There were no politics until the end of 2015 when Trump won. The day at work when Trump won, it was like a funeral. I was laughing my ass off. I was trying to not bust up laughing. It was the worst day of THEIR life. Before that, every person was together and working toward a common goal. After that point, they still were altogether only anyone who wasn’t on their side politically had to hide in the political closet. There was no politics mentioned in chat until 2021. But If you wore any other political side stuff or even let people know, you’d be gone that day. I saw 3+ people fired the same day for their political beliefs. I still know 3+ that are hiding. (They say: “I SAY NOTHING ANYWHERE”).
- Been thinking a lot about when I should have left and that date was 2014. Everyone goes, ah you can’t do anything about it now.
Smartest businesses ignore all politics and just make sure their product is open to ALL CUSTOMERS, which is TRUE DIVERSITY. Don’t exclude anyone. Don’t say hey I don’t want you to buy my product if you’re this race/class combo or political belief, or even from this new “banned” country.
The smartest businesses ban all politics at work. It only divides people and adds nothing to the business. However, so many businesses in the last 2 years have made political stands and you can go to their profits or stock and sort by those years and see how that cost them (haha). “get woke go broke.”