Outsource Game Development: Pros and Cons of Outsourcing
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What is Game Development Outsourcing?
Ready to Outsource?
Why should you outsource game development if you can take care of the entire process in-house? Outsourcing offers many and varied benefits, but meeting demand and minimizing costs are two major reasons. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of outsourcing game development.
What is Game Development Outsourcing?
Outsourcing game development (aka Game Process Outsourcing or GPO) is the act of collaborating with a third party for different parts of the game development process.
Partnering with third-party experts makes you agile. You have on-demand access to top talent, and when you’re loaded with work, you know the agency will help you finish on time.
A Newzoo report reveals the gaming industry grew by 23% during 2020 — the highest since they started tracking revenues in 2012.
Game developers need to respond to the demand-supply equation by rolling out games faster or risk losing market share to competitors. Hiring more talent is one way to prepare for the demand surge, but there’s a more cost-effective alternative: outsourcing.
Benefits of Outsourcing Game Development
Outsourcing offers various benefits to game devs. Here are key benefits of outsourcing game development to a third party:
Outsourcing allows you to tap into specialized teams when you need them. You don’t add operating leverage to your business, so you have the option to scale up or back quickly — no interviewing developers, spending money on onboarding, or paying for benefits. For example, outsourcing can be a perfect solution when you’re already overloaded but want to work on an exciting project.
Access to Specialized Teams
Your team might have several specialized skills, but may occasionally need to work on a project that requires a different skill. For example, your team might lack Flutter expertise. Outsourcing flutter development can offer a lean way to complete your project without cost overruns. Sure, you might need to spend some time finding the right Flutter development agency. But the payoff can be significant compared to if you had to hire a Flutter developer in-house.
Outsourcing allows you to meet tight deadlines without spending on hiring internally. The best game development companies have robust processes that enable quick turnarounds, so you can always rely on them to meet deadlines.
Things to be Mindful of When Outsourcing Game Development
Outsourcing game development also comes with a few risks. But they’re manageable risks. As long as you’re mindful of the do’s and don'ts of managing an outsourced development team, you’ll position yourself to get the best out of your outsourcing strategy.
Incompatibility of Processes and Outcomes
Incompatibility of the outcome, quality standards, or processes is an inherent risk of outsourcing game development. Young employers are especially prone to these risks given their lack of experience working with freelancers or agencies. The solution? Good communication and transparency. As an employer, you must communicate your expectations. On the other hand, the freelancer or agency should be transparent in their work and provide regular updates to the employer.
Outsourcing requires sharing information with contractors. You’ll need to occasionally provide concepts or solutions you built internally. You might also need to share project-specific secrets, which can sometimes result in unfavorable consequences. The best way to dodge this bullet is by selecting a reliable outsourcing partner. The likelihood of a well-established agency is far lower than an and coming freelancer.
What Parts of Game Development Can You Outsource?
You should assess your resources and needs before you decide which parts of the game development process to outsource. Outsourcing firms can collaborate with you on creating art assets, work on quality assurance, or take up a project right from conception.
Agencies typically offer the following game development models:
Full-Cycle Game Development
Full-cycle development involves outsourcing the complete game development process. It’s a perfect model if the game is not your primary product and you lack in-house development capabilities. The agency is responsible for defining the tech stack and art style, coding, quality assurance, and post-release support. Your involvement in developing the game is minimal.
Co-development works best when you either need to fill expertise gaps or the resources to support the development workflow. The external team or freelancers work closely with the product team and focus on specific parts of the game in a co-development model. It’s critical for teams to stay in sync and understand each other’s working styles for a favorable outcome.
Outsource Art and Animation
After you’ve finished coding, you’ll need to refine the game’s visual elements. Your game might require a large number of art and animation assets — including characters, vehicles, and other animations. Share a list of art and animation assets you need and a set of guidelines about the overall look and aesthetics you want to aim for. Outsourcing art and animation works well for teams with extensive programming expertise, but few members support the creative side of game development.
Once you’ve created the entire game, you’ll need to test it to identify and tie up any loose ends before the release. Outsourcing game testing can also translate to a faster go-to-market. If your team is already loaded with projects, it makes sense to outsource testing to an external agency. Agencies can help you verify if the objects are rendering as they should across screen sizes and use frameworks like Appium and Calabash for automated testing, among other things.
Ready to Outsource?
When you outsource game development, you significantly trim the costs of developing the game. Strategically selecting the parts you want to outsource can help you fill resource gaps without worrying about missing the deadline or compromising the outcome.
When hiring a developer, you should ensure that they’re qualified for the job. For example, if you need to hire a Flutter developer, you should follow all the best practices for hiring Flutter developers.
Q1. What is game development outsourcing?
Game development outsourcing is the act of hiring a third party to work on one or more parts of the game development process. The objective of outsourcing is typically to minimize costs, meet tight deadlines, or use external expertise for game development projects.
Q2. Why do game companies outsource?
Game companies outsource for various reasons, including scaling up while retaining flexibility, tapping into a team’s expertise that the company lacks, or a faster go-to-market. Many companies, including the likes of Electronic Arts, Sony, and Microsoft outsource their work to offshore agencies to benefit from lower labor costs.
Q3. Who is the largest game developer?
Sony is the largest game developer in terms of revenue, with $24.4 billion in annual gaming revenue. Sony is followed by Nintendo ($15.9 billion in gaming revenue) and Microsoft ($15.37 billion in gaming revenue). Interestingly, a large portion of Microsoft’s gaming revenue comes from selling Xbox. However, Microsoft also develops games and owns other game development companies like Mojang, which also contribute a substantial amount of revenue. Here are more game developers that follow these three giant gaming companies in terms of revenue:
- Tencent: $13.9 billion
- Activision Blizzard: $8.8 billion
- Electronic Arts: $5.6 billion