Game development outsourcing: what is it for?

Game development outsourcing: what is it for?

Principles of the video games development outsourcing
Alex Head of Development

Printed 2021-04-10

In September, Ubisoft announced a remake of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and in a press release, the French boasted that the game was being developed by the Indian studio Ubisoft Pune. In the Ubisoft system, this team has been in a support role since its inception, like many other similar units. However, outside the ecosystem of the French giant, there are many more commissioned studios.

Judge for yourself, when Super Mario 64 came out in 1996, the closing credits took about three minutes to list thirty-two people. In Grand Theft Auto V, credits are fifty-two minutes long!

Did all the thousands of names on this list work directly at Rockstar studios? In fact, of course not The overwhelming majority of the people listed in the credits of modern blockbusters are commissioned by a major studio somewhere outside of it. And such almost unknown contractor companies are called "outsourcers" from the English abbreviation "outsource" (outer-source-using) - the use of an external source. This is also called game development outsourcing.

In 2009, Electronic Arts laid off nearly two thousand six hundred of its employees. Then-CEO John Richitello said the company had invested too much in internal development and promised to focus more on outsourcing. “Expensive studios are so out of control that the best we can do is keep our core design team and use support elsewhere like Montreal or South Korea,” he told investors at a 2009 launch event.

The outsourcing boom came at a time of growing uncertainty in the video game industry, with software sales declining year after year since a peak in 2008. A survey of game developers in a survey that same year found that 86% of game studios have outsourced at least one aspect of development. And in 2012, Square Enix admitted that both Tomb Raider and Hitman: Absolution, even with more than three million copies shipped worldwide, fell short of the company's sales expectations, leading to the resignation of its president.

What is outsourcing used for

Bungie co-founder, currently at Industrial Toys, Alex Seropian explained the outsourcing concept as follows: core game design and execution are maintained internally, while lower priority rehearsal work is done elsewhere by a contractor. A f

undamental part of our business model is that we have a core staff of full-time employees, to whom we connect the additional workforce needed to carry out all production work outside the company.

Many developers believe that the main advantage of outsourcing is not necessarily in saving money, but in using the company's resources in the most efficient way.

At the same time, Andy Cheren, president of Production Road in Los Angeles, claims that none of his clients told him they intended to simply save money by cutting jobs. He cites a 120-person Southern California-based developer as an example.

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