So, you have an idea for a game or maybe you’ve just always wanted to work in video game production. Maybe you’re a programmer and you’ve got friends who are always coming up with off the wall ideas for new games. You saw the success of Among Us and thought “I could have done that better”.
Starting your own game production company seems like the perfect idea.
And maybe it is! Indie games are more popular than ever these days. Smartphones have provided another platform outside of traditional console and PC gaming that is ideal for smaller, less complex games. Even the rise of iGaming has provided new opportunities for developers.
Starting any business has its challenges, however. There are unique challenges that any creative company faces as well. Some of these are expected, while others seem to sneak up out of nowhere. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the major unforeseen issues that can arise when setting up a game production company.
Video games are hugely popular, and the market has responded by producing an ever-increasing number of games. This can make it difficult for a game from a new studio to get any attention in the media or from gamers. Without a huge amount to invest in advertising, it’s even more difficult to be seen by potential players.
A potential way to build a reputation before going mainstream is to start out in iGaming. Creating online slot machine games for an iGaming platform is a great way to build a cohesive team and get some practice under your belts before aiming for the traditional gaming market. Online slots have a huge audience internationally and they thrive on the constant appearance of new games.
Crowd and investor pressure
One of the expected difficulties that any and every game production studio will face is that everything takes longer than anticipated. No matter how well you plan, there will always be changes that need to be made, bugs that appear and development delays. You can build time into your release dates to try and accommodate for this, but it is a difficult thing to estimate.
What many young studios don’t expect is how intense the pressure from investors and people who want to play the game can be. Even a veteran studio like CD Projekt Red was unable to cope with the pressure to release Cyberpunk 2077. They tried to delay release long enough to give them time to finish the game, but in the end, they caved and released a game that was unplayable on some platforms and nothing like what they had promised.
Having an open dialogue with fans who are waiting for your game — and not overpromising — can help you avoid the massive misstep that CDPR made. Using a platform like Kickstarter can be a great way to generate funding but it also leaves you beholden to all your backers, so think carefully before using it.
The legal stuff
There are two areas of game development that can require a lot of legal paperwork. The first is fairly obvious. If you want to create a game inspired by an existing intellectual property (IP), you will need the consent of the company or individual that owns the rights to that property. In this case, there may also be expectations set by the IP owners that you will have to adhere to if you don’t want to lose those rights. It can be a delicate balancing act if you’re trying to push the envelope a bit with an established character.
The other area is if you’re creating your own IP. There is an established legal process in every country for licensing a new IP. While you can potentially navigate it yourself, it makes sense to have a lawyer on your payroll to make the process as simple as possible and to deal with any unexpected legal hurdles.
Starting up can be very exciting, you’ve found the developers and creative minds that share your vision for a gaming company and the investors have come through with the initial capital needed. It seems like everything’s fallen into place and it’ll be smooth sailing from here on out.
In reality, one of the big issues that game companies face are the competing egos on their teams. Many game designers, whether they work on the creative story-telling side or on the programming side have enormous egos, Richard Garriott is a great example. They’ve had to work hard to get where they are since game design is a hugely competitive field, but it can make them unwilling to compromise or listen to others.