Want your game project to become award-winning, like Angry Birds or Fortnite? You should find a reliable team of game designers and developers who will be ready to bring it to life in full. You can try the internal resources available in your country, but today you are not limited to only internal teams. Due to access to global expertise, you can significantly expand the capabilities of your business by outsourcing projects to different companies. Game development outsourcing services are growing rapidly to eliminate a lack of skills or qualifications, meanwhile reducing operational costs.
When you are looking for a suitable game development company, you will likely to have many options to choose from – company #1… company #2… company #150… So, how to contact a game development company that really deserves your attention?
This article is devoted to the questions – how to choose a reliable game design company, how not to get into an unstable company with poor performance, how to distinguish freelancers from true experts, and so on. Have the checklist on hand when choosing partners for game development and ultimately get quality design services!
13 Questions to Ask When Choosing a GameDev Company
The following checklist will help you out in case if you’re still hesitating – which company to choose and why? Let’s see what questions you should ask before signing any contract.
1. Which Companies are Most Active in the Market?
Good outsourcing studios never sit idly by – they strive to share their expertise with the largest possible audience. To collect a primary list of candidates, you need to do some preliminary market research. Of course, you can go to Google, but search results can only tell you for sure about those who are very active in SEO. Where, then, to look for a partner?
The optimal option is independent data-driven platforms like Clutch, GoodFirms or DesignRush. These resources allow you not only to filter companies by rating, rate, country or number of employees, but also to see real reviews of real customers of these companies. The huge advantage of these portals is that they check all reviews very carefully for authenticity, so that no studio has a chance to post a self-made praising ode there.
After you have compiled a list of outsourcing studios that interest you, you can directly go to their sites and study them in more detail for ease of navigation and the availability of comprehensive information on the areas of work you need. On the site, you can also familiarize yourself with the section “About the company”: there are always important insights about the values, principles of work and advantages of this team. They will help you better understand the ethics and vibe of the company, their goals and approaches to various types of projects.
2. How Long Has the Company Been in the Market?
It is not always true to believe that the more years a company has been operating in the market, the more reliable it can be considered. Indeed, 20 years in business may affect the final project cost, but nor the level of reliability and quality. However, there is a consistent pattern in this issue – the more a company is on the market, the more services it may offer to customers. Most starting companies do not quickly turn into large enterprises that can cover any aspect of successful game development. For this reason, most of them are initially relatively small teams that build up the internal potential for developing competitive products in the industry. As a result, the company can bring together more experts to work on large projects, a richer portfolio for a considerable period of time.
What is this suitable period of existence in the market when you can fully rely on the services of a company? In general, companies with more than 5 years of experience can offer you highly valuable services. During this time, they may have specific achievements and results, with which you can get familiar and make the final choice.
3. What Do the Company’s Website and Portfolio Look Like?
The first thing you can come across is the company’s website. The way it looks and what it includes, moreover, if there is any website at all, will determine the search progress. You can read a lot about the company on external platforms, but without a proper presentation on the website, any business will not win out. This is especially true for the gaming industry, where corporate visual image plays an important role in gaining an excellent reputation among potential customers.
What to look for on the gamedev company website? Pay attention to what it includes and how everything is organized there:
- Firstly, you need a brief description of the company and its team. Often this information is located right on the home page.
- Secondly, a good site should present you with all areas of competence in which the company specializes. A company profile should provide you with details that allow you to read and understand without contacting anyone else.
- Thirdly, it’s better when you can explore the portfolio with completed projects, which serves as a visual display of works of art, games and other products.
- Last but not least, a website should not lack creativity and stylish design when it comes to professional game development companies.
It should be said about the portfolio separately. Studying it is the best way to check the expertise, described not in words, but in specific projects. However, remember that the portfolio does not contain all of the company’s projects. Works can be placed in the portfolio only if the client has given permission for this. Most projects in the gaming industry are protected by a non-disclosure agreement and cannot be shared with site visitors.
It is also important to understand that a portfolio cannot take hundreds of pages, and if a game studio has a huge number of projects under its belt, then they will not be able to place all of them on the site. They only post selected samples.
If you have not found the type of work you need in your portfolio, but you liked the rest, do not rush to give up this studio. Ask about the company information about the direction you are interested in. Ideally, the team can provide you with a separate presentation on this topic. This way you can understand exactly whether the team will be able to complete your tasks.
Selected works from a wide variety of game art and development directionsOur portfolio
4. What Is the Company’s Team and Who Is There?
A company with a well-deserved reputation cannot have 2 or 3 specialists on board to implement projects. Depending on the company size, the number of specialists may vary from at least 20 to 1,000+ specialists. Game development is completely team work, requiring a lot of knowledge and skills to achieve positive end results from concept development to testing and marketing.
When you’re planning a fully featured game from scratch, you can’t limit human resources to several specialists. You may need the core team of:
- Art director,
- QA specialists,
- Project manager, etc.
In most cases, the team is supposed to be flexible in accordance with the requirements of the project. So, look for a game development team that is ready to meet the specific business requirements and goals.
As a rule, a trustworthy outsourcing game design company has specialists that can bring ideas to life at a high professional level. Alternatively, HR managers update huge databases of specialists eager to work on new projects to find the best specialist for you quickly.
It is also important for you to know the technical level of proficiency of the tools for the artists, animators and developers of the selected company. Usually this information is posted in the appropriate sections on the website, but if you did not find it, you can request it additionally from the company representatives. This is especially important if you need to continue working on an existing project that was started in a specific program.
5. How Are Specialists Recruited for the Project?
This is an important question you should find an answer to before cooperating with one or another company. For successful results in the project, the recruiting process must be well-organized and effective from the standpoint of a customer. Successful recruitment requires more than just posting a job advertisement on LinkedIn or any other job search engine. Finding and hiring the right specialists requires special skills, tried-and-true hiring methods along with inside knowledge of game development.
By managing the hiring process and operational management at Kevuru Games, at the same time using our extensive experience in the industry, we are creating a group of candidates that you can select personally or rely on our expertise. Once the experts are approved by you, they will be hired and ready to work on your tasks under the direct supervision of an art director or team leader.
Kevuru Games has a dedicated recruiter in the HR department who is ready to find the most suitable candidate from a 60,000 database of artists, designers, developers, project managers, business analysts, etc.
6. How Is the Work Process Organized in the Company?
Most outcomes depend on the way the workflow is organized. The proper organization provides a comprehensive and dynamic picture of business development. Otherwise, it will look like a mess. Management behavior covers assigning tasks, grouping tasks by departments, delegating authority, and allocating resources throughout the projects. Managers must coordinate employees, create policies, and provide procedures to achieve the business goals and smooth-running workflow.
You can ask the following questions:
- How does communication take place?
- Is it possible to change the composition of the team?
- How often do approval and feedback sessions occur?
- What standards does the team follow?
- What project management tools does the team use?
- Is there a dedicated project manager for the project?
- Is it possible to contact the team in addition to scheduled calls if necessary?
- How is quality assessment carried out?
For example, the procedural features of Kevuru Games look like this:
- Deep project management. Each project is assigned to a separate project manager, who ensures timely communication with clients and the exchange of all necessary information between them and the team. Also, each project has its own account manager, who additionally controls the fulfillment of all the company’s obligations to each client.
- Full control over the project life cycle. Double checking allows the team to work autonomously without additional client supervision. We provide planning, cost estimates, setting tasks for performers, ideas for optimizing work and improving the project.
- High capacity recruiting model. The client can change the direction of work at any time, and if we do not have the necessary in-house specialists, then we undertake to find and hire them for this project at the right time in the required quantities.
- Clear internal standards. All artists, up to leading specialists, are supervised and checked by the art director, who guarantees an impeccable quality of work in accordance with the wishes and needs of the client.
- Flexible team selection. We form a team depending on the specifics of the project. We have specialists in different areas of art and animation, as well as experts in various game engines who work in accordance with the highest standards and current trends.
- Effective project development methodology. We work according to the Scrum method. During the weekly call, the team reports to the client about the work done on the sprint, accepts changes and discusses further plans. The next stage does not start until all edits have been implemented. Thanks to this, the work proceeds smoothly and smoothly, the client sees all intermediate results and fully controls the process.
Companies can be structured in various departments that may determine how they work. But the relationship between job positions that exist at different levels must be clearly defined and put into practice. For example, Kevuru Games is divided into smaller teams by specialty (art and design, gamedev, sales, finance, HR accounting, marketing). These functional areas are managed horizontally, which allows assigning employees in accordance with the needs of the project.
7. What is the Communication Level of the Company?
Good communication skills are the key to successful collaboration. You need to make sure that communication with your chosen team is quick and easy. To do this, invite the team to make a test call and talk to representatives of different departments: project managers, programmers, leads, and artists. Unlike sales managers who always provide you with the perfect pitch but cannot give you precise guarantees, specialists in specific areas will be able to accurately guide you whether they will be able to complete your task.
In addition to acquaintance, the call will give you the opportunity to assess the level of the English team, especially if it is from some distant country. The absence of a language barrier ensures complete understanding and transparent communication at all stages of work. By talking to different team members, you can gauge how well they understand you and how comprehensive their answers to your questions are.
8. Does the Company Give Any Guarantee?
What do you need to get from a reliable game design company? These may be guarantees of:
- High quality,
- Timely delivery,
- Confidentiality, etc.
When you address the team of game designers, you expect to see total dedication to the project and high levels of professionalism. Both conditions are included by the tacit agreement. But before starting a cooperation with a company, set your own standards that will be covenanted.
For example, one of our clients that offers world-famous entertainment projects imposes special conditions of cooperation – the highest security standards to prevent unauthorized persons from accessing confidential information. So, discuss any of your owncondition to find out if the potential team is able to meet all the demands.
9. What Price Models Can The Company Offer?
There are three main pricing models:
- Fixed Price. This model assumes that the team is working within the originally approved budget. It works well for you if you have a list of clearly defined requirements, goals, workflows and tight deadlines. Fixed Price is also a great way to implement a short-term project while checking the qualifications of a new vendor you are working with for the first time.
- Time & Material. If you cannot say in advance exactly what kind of game you want to see and assume that many details will appear during the development process, then this model is your choice. It involves the formation of the price in accordance with the time spent. Also, you can pay for the work of the team to complete a specific task as you like: immediately after the sprint, monthly, once a quarter, etc.
- Dedicated Team. This is the most flexible model that is ideal for long-term collaboration on a project whose scope and requirements are not yet entirely clear. It implies the free attraction of additional resources and the use of new technologies, a change in the priority of tasks and methodology, and so on.
Check with the company if they work with these models and if they’ve even heard of them. If the answer is no, then it is undesirable to deal with such a partner: you will have no way to understand how they form the price of their services.
10. What Is the Cost of Services?
While considering several options, you’re likely to compare costs from the perspective of your project budget. Right? Thus, you can find out the average rates of game developers and plan your budget accordingly. However, they can vary from company to company, from market to market.
For example, a game development company in the United States will differ from a game development company in Ukraine in terms of the ultimate cost of services. This is a key advantage you can get when outsourcing to Eastern Europe. But keep in mind the average rate in each market, be it America, Europe or Asia. They cannot fundamentally differ from most other market offers in each country. Let’s see what some countries may offer you below in the table!
Average Market Rates of Game Development Companies by Country
|USA||$150 – $199 / hr|
|UK||$100 – $149 / hr|
|Germany||$50 – $99 / hr|
|Ukraine||$25 – $49 / hr|
|India||< $25 / hr|
(Data taken from Clutch.co – 2020 Reviews: Top Mobile Game Product Designers – through filtering by location and analysis)
What does it mean for you? Think twice before working with a team in each country that sets lower or higher rates than the average market rate! If it is lower, you risk getting unsatisfactory results in relation to the quality, delivery, and other points that we mentioned above. If you are faced with the high cost of services, there must also be questions. But then again, the final cost depends on the scope of work anyway and the level of qualifications of each specialist. If you’re ready to work with junior, the rates will be lower, and vice versa for senior game developers.
For example, the variation in developer hourly rates by skill level in the United States is as follows: a senior game developer gets an average of $ 60 per hour, a middle developer gets $ 45, and a junior developer gets $ 30. Remember that this is only a programmer’s rate, and the process of creating a game requires the participation of a large number of people. You can learn more about the average salaries of game artists by region and the best ways to hire them for your project in our research.
In any case, you should get a detailed estimate of your project and decide if it is within your planned budget or not. We’re ready to offer you a free project estimate at Kevuru Games.
11. Is the Company Ready to Complete the Test Task?
A test task is a fairly common practice for selecting not only individual employees, but also entire outsourcing teams. For example, this method of selection is often used by large publishers who want to immediately test a potential partner in business.
The test can be paid or not, depending on different conditions and factors. if the test is the way that can convince you the best, then be sure to ask whether the company is ready to take on it and under what conditions. Usually good and experienced teams do not refuse the test, but only if there are currently available specialists.
12. What Are the Specifics of the Company’s Country?
Be sure to study in advance the specifics of the country where your chosen outsourcing company is located. This will help to avoid possible misunderstandings and to properly establish cooperation. In particular, check with the company representatives if they have any problems with the Internet connection since timely communication is essential for effective work.
It is also important to learn about national holidays and weekends in order to understand when the company will not be in touch. Some studios agree to work on their weekends if the deadlines are tight, but charge double the fee for doing so. If you think you will need overtime from your partners, ask them right away.
13. Are There Any Real Reviews From Previous Customers?
What previous customers say about the company can also help you with the choice. The section with reviews is an integral part of any website as this is one of the factors that influence the decision of the client to place an order from the company.
So, don’t forget to look at what is said about the company’s expertise in the corresponding section. Even if you are skeptical of some very “positive” reviews, you always can contact the mentioned customers and find out their impression about the services provided by any company. At the same time, you’ll identify if they are real, existing people who turn to the given services.
So, How to Understand That the Company Isn’t Reliable?
Imagine you find a game design studio but face some strange challenges. So, what are they?
- Company representatives don’t react to your requests quickly;
- They put off meetings or calls;
- They can’t estimate your project precisely;
- They don’t connect with specialists who are supposed to work on the project;
- They miss deadlines and can’t explain reasonable reasons, etc.
In any case, this unreliability will be costly to you and your product. It wastes time, money, and energy. First of all, you need to make sure that you will work with the team with true professionals who will come to work and do what you need. You must be sure before making a final hiring decision.
Overall, choose a partner who values long-term cooperation in the field of business development and does all the best to ensure game development products are successfully realized in your project with full value.