Hey, Trainers! Ever wondered what it’s like to work at Niantic, the company behind your favorite game, Pokémon GO? Well, we’ve stumbled upon an eye-opening review from a former Niantic employee that gives us a glimpse into the inner workings of the company. Hold onto your Poké Balls; you’re in for a ride.
First, let’s talk about the bright side. The former Niantic employee couldn’t stress enough how incredible the work environment was in terms of the team spirit. The people at Niantic are described as “lovely,” “kind,” and “helpful.” Plus, if you’re a Pokémon fan (which you probably are if you’re reading this), you’ll find yourself in a community of like-minded folks. It’s genuinely an energizing atmosphere, especially knowing that Pokémon GO still has such a passionate following.
But what about leadership? Ah, here’s where the plot thickens. Despite the pleasant work environment and passionate fanbase, the employee was less than impressed by the company’s leadership. During their year-long tenure at Niantic, the individual regularly proposed various quality-of-life improvements for Pokémon GO, ideas that were neither demanding nor costly, requiring no new art or designs.
And what happened? They were shot down. Every. Single. Time. And not by external forces, mind you, but by their own product manager or some business executive. What’s more baffling is that these rejections were not based on any hard data. Nope, it was all about a “gut feeling” that the new features would somehow harm the company’s bottom line.
What’s even more frustrating is the lack of opportunity for testing these ideas. Our frustrated former employee wasn’t even allowed to test their improvements on a small player subset to either validate or refute these so-called “gut feelings.”
Want to know more? You can check out the full review on Glassdoor, or check it out below.
“If you’re a passionate game dev, avoid working at Niantic
- People were genuinely so lovely and kind and helpful. Lots of passion from fans around Pokemon Go so many years later.
- Great environment if you’re also a Pokemon fan!
- Some of the most misguided leadership (especially at the exec level) and a lot of poor product managers. Working on a mobile game (no matter where you work) is soul-sucking. The entire premise of a mobile game is to intentionally leave in friction to make players pay to avoid. It’s scummy and awful.
- I worked on Pokemon Go for about a year and I really do believe PGO is one of the “better” mobile games out there and it still made me never want to work on a mobile game ever again. Multiple times I pitched new quality-of-life improvements for the game that were small, easy, required no new art/designs, etc. And got stopped every step of the way by either my OWN product manager, or a business person, awaiting approval from partners. All of their reasons were also on “feel” no on any actual data to support the claims they made that my feature was a bad idea or would hurt revenue. They wouldn’t even let me test it on a subset of players to prove my claim.
- This happened at least 2-3 times before I just said forget it I’m not coming up with, prototyping, demoing, and pitching new unique ideas at this company if they don’t want to hear my ideas. It was outstandingly infuriating.
- If you are a game developer who cares a lot about making quality video games that respect and care about their players I don’t recommend working here or at any mobile game studio.
- If you’re pretty indifferent about it but like games and Pokemon you might be fine here.
Advice to Management
- Do, like, a LOT better. Pretend like you make a globally played product with tons and tons of players counting on you to make their favorite game good. Just because you lost favor with them a while ago doesn’t mean you should dig the hole deeper.“
This observation aligns well with the general perception that Niantic often seems disconnected from the Pokémon GO community. The power to instigate change lies in the community’s hands, by playing less and remaining strictly free-to-play, players can send a strong message.