How Everything Has Changed for the Games Industry

Kirstin Whittle (Sr. Manager, Business Development) talks about how the games industry has changed – for good. 

A fundamental shift has occurred in the games industry over the past few years. This may seem like an obvious statement in an industry that thrives on continual technological innovation and re-invention, but it goes far beyond the games themselves. The old retail model – put your game in a box and ship it to the stores – has transformed into a world where everything is live all the time.

Working as one

One of the most significant changes is how services that were until recently a relatively sequential process – design, then development, then QA, then localisation, then post-launch customer support – have begun to overlap and bleed together, to the point where everything now needs to work as one.

Where QA was once a pre-launch service, it is now an essential requirement throughout the life of the game as new DLC and updates are routinely developed and released.

It goes beyond isolated tests on new content to include verifying compatibility with all existing content and making sure it all works together in real-world conditions. This is also true of localisation and support. Most high-profile games, and even many true indie titles, have some level of these services happening all the time. Outsourced services have really become 24/7 processes.

This shift is driving a change in the relationships between content creators and outsourcers, and a change in the mindset of how both do business. The new always-on environment and the global reach of our products means outsourcing providers need to be true partners with developers and publishers, not simply vendors.
Smart outsourcers are bringing more value to their clients through flexible, innovative solutions.

For example, the cyclical nature of QA and live game operations – as the need for one rises, need for the other recedes – is creating opportunities for hybrid solutions that integrate these services and allow a consistent, manageable level of resources and support. Everything from localisation to global beta testing and community management is increasingly more tightly integrated.

We are truly a global industry now – anyone can publish globally because distribution is no longer reliant on companies with physical presence in other regions.

Player support

For the games industry, that means increasingly direct relationships with our customers and the need to be responsive to them. Because direct customer communication is outside the core competency of many developers and publishers, a strong partnership with an outsourcer that specialises in community engagement and player support enables each partner to focus on what they do best.

One thing is certain: the industry is not going back to the old model of development and publishing. Changes in player behaviour and expectations, twinned with the continuing advancements in technology and the increased capability of flexible global production support services, have resulted in better games. There are so many new opportunities for forward-looking publishers, developers, and outsourcing partners, and it’s exciting to be on the leading edge of all this change.

How Everything Has Changed for the Games Industry

Five Common Outsourcing Mistakes

We asked VMC’s Kirstin Whittle (Sr. Manager, Business Development) to identify the top opportunities many companies are missing with their outsourcing. 

Considering how much the games industry has changed in the last few years, you should be concerned whether your company’s outsourcing engagements are taking full advantage of their outsourcing capabilities.

Here are five critical factors for getting more value from your outsourcing and delivering better products to your customers:

You See Outsourcers as Vendors, not Partners

If you’re treating outsourcing as a commoditised process and keeping your vendors at arm’s length instead of embedding them in the process, you may be missing a lot of opportunity.

Creating a seamless partnership with your outsourcers and strategically involving them in your process enables you to build stronger collaborative relationships and ultimately deliver better products.

You Aren’t Retaining Core Competency In-House

You want your outsourcers to be partners in your projects, but you don’t want them being the brain trust for managing portions of your development process.

Certain activities may not be your team’s core competency, but you need in-house people who have a clear, in-depth understanding of the critical work your outsourcers are performing. This protects you if your outsourcing partners can’t accommodate your workload or your relationship with them ends.

You Have Too Many Eggs in Too Few Baskets

Every business is continually evolving, including yours and your outsourcers. What will you do if your product takes off? What if your QA outsourcers with multiple clients can’t ramp up for more testing on your timeframes? Building strong relationships in advance helps you be prepared when you need to be, and allows you to identify which partners deliver the best performance.

You Aren’t Considering All the Options

Your outsourcing options go beyond having tasks performed at remote locations. Explore how other types of outsourcing – onsite staff augmentation, managed services, co-managed services, and pure outsourcing – could be more effective solutions for your needs and schedule.

You’re Choosing for the Wrong Reasons

Production support services are best measured on six key factors: quality, experience, cost, speed, scalability and process. In reality, many companies select their outsourcers based on the familiarity of working with a particular person or organisation and accept any limitations on the other five factors.

“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” isn’t a good approach to outsourcing. Make sure your business decisions are driven by proven performance, not personal preferences.

Outsourced services are an essential part of your development process, and strong partnerships enable your team to focus on what they do best while your partners provide expertise for QA and support. By building on your strengths and leveraging your partner’s capabilities, your products and customers will benefit.

Five Common Outsourcing Mistakes