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Game Dragons创立者给独立开发商的商业计划制定建议

发布时间:2019-08-29 09:02:02 Tags:,

Game Dragons创立者给独立开发商的商业计划制定建议

原作者:Philip Oliver 译者:Vivian

Game Dragons公司的菲利普·奥利弗(Philip Oliver)谈到制作成功的独立游戏过程中一项至关重要却经常被忽视的工具。

许多创业者都认为商业计划可有可无,有也不错。它常常被视为一层额外的管理,阻挡你享受制作游戏的乐趣。事实上,无论你的业务规模多大,或者你的目标多崇高,商业计划都将起到至关重要的作用。它促使你思考想要实现的东西,帮助你保持专注,同时又允许你在必要时改变前进的方向。毕竟,计划好路线的前提是知道终点在哪。

我们的计划是制作优秀的游戏

1986年,我们决定把对游戏的热爱转化成一项事业。此前我们已经发行了几款游戏,但都挣不到什么钱。高中毕业后我们立下目标,在空档期内收入超过父亲,这样就不用去上大学,继续制作电子游戏。因为当时大学里没有任何与游戏甚至计算机绘图相关的课程。

我们申领了政府的创业补助,创业第一年每周能拿到70欧元,但这笔资金是有附加条件的。我们每周必须到学院里上经营管理课。刚开始我们抱着怀疑的态度,心想他们能教我们什么呢,他们又不懂游戏。事实上,他们对电脑也一无所知。

复式记账法起码有助于我们记录花销和发票(但愿吧),可制定商业计划(包括现金流量分析)似乎是毫无意义的课程。我们的业务没有任何框架,现金流量更是无从谈起,因为收入是没法预测的。

不过我们还是按照要求制定了商业计划,并很快发现它不像学校作业,没有绝对的正确和错误之分,还能帮助我们面面俱到地考虑问题。我们做了一些合理预测,事实证明这是一项很有用的练习。至今我们仍保存着那份计划——它并不出色,但读起来很有趣,令人十分怀念。设立计划后的六个月里,我们还持续更新了进展情况。

Guns of Boom(from pocketgamer.biz)

Guns of Boom(from pocketgamer.biz)

有计划总比没计划好

如果你想认真地创办一家工作室,你需要一份商业计划。制定商业计划需要付出一定的精力,但肯定比你日后经营企业和开发游戏的付出小得多。它将帮助你以结构化的方式考虑各项事务。你很快会发现除了制作游戏,还有许多工作要做,这正是一名独立开发者肩负的任务。如果你只想制作游戏,我建议你到现有的游戏公司找一份全职工作。通过沉浸在行业中,你将学到很多东西,并提高日后创业的成功率。

制定计划,把它写下来

记住,商业计划没有绝对的正确和错误。你要做的是记下所有关键信息、你的计划和预测。你不是在参加文学创作比赛——保持简明扼要,记录每一份文件的日期、标题、作者和合作者的名字。

公司名称一定要独特,能够反映你们在短期、中期和长期希望彰显的个性形象。我们见过一些稀奇古怪的名称,在创业阶段或许合适,但取得成功后继续使用它们就不妥了。上谷歌搜索你的公司名,确保它和其它公司名有所区别,特别是同行业的公司。如果可能的话,拿下该名称的.com域名。如果已经被注册,那就试试其它结尾(.co/.uk/.net,甚至.tv/.game)只要拥有.com域名的公司和游戏没什么关联就行。

此外,商业计划还应该包含SWOT分析,列举公司的优势、劣势、机会和威胁。

一些必须明确的要素

以下内容不一定包含在商业计划里,但你必须明确它们并做好记录,无论是记在计划里还是董事会纪要中。

1. 每位创始人为公司带来的资金、设备和知识产权,以及它们的性质是“借贷”还是“给与”。

2. 每位创始人的股权和收益权,利益分配变动该如何决定,合伙人退出该如何处理。讨论这些问题时应抛开感情因素,确保达成公正的方案。你还应考虑如何处理合伙人(无论出于什么原因)不出力的情况。

3. 重大事项的投票方式,以及什么决定算重大决定。我们建议将涉及金额超过1万欧元的事项视为重大决定,但你可以根据自己的情况来定。有限责任公司一般以股权大小决定投票分量。

公司结构

公司是个体经营、合伙企业还是有限责任公司?对于创业公司,建议采取有限责任制。尽管创立有限责任公司需要一定的注册资本,但在法律上有诸多好处,你能够进行早期融资,(如果你在英国并符合条件的话)可以申请电子游戏税收减免。无论你决定采用哪种形式,你都需要建立一个独立的银行账户,并同意官方的撤资条件。

最好在公司成立初期就聘请一名财务和律师。大多数律师对创业公司开价很友好,并且能提供许多领域的帮助。如果他们之前和游戏公司合作过就更好了。你应使用软件包(比如Xero或Quickbooks)收集整理好所有收据——你聘请的财务可能有自己的偏好。

明确的商业目标

你的商业计划应包含短期(三个月以内)、中期(五年内)和长期目标(三五年后)。制定一些灵活条款,比如,完成两个项目后考虑自主发行。记录替代目标,它们不是非得执行不可,只是你在创业初的设想。

现金流是关键

商业计划中应包含一份至少未来一年的现金流预测。以表格的形式,在顶端列出月份,左侧列出现金流类型。

第一大类现金流是收入,包括每一款游戏的销售收入、版权收入。单独列出一项“其它收入”——即与游戏无关的收入,例如变卖旧设备所得。预测尚未开发出的游戏的收入相当困难,但尝试这么做是很重要的。这将促使你们对预测结果及目标进行讨论,我的建议是在做预测时趋向于保守。

第二类是预期成本,包含工资/股东权益,承包业务支出,税款和养老保险。在你预测产生足够的收入抵消成本之前,这一部分大概为零。如果你租了办公室,那么还要加上租金以及设备费用。一些其它的成本包括公关和营销支出、硬件支出(电脑、开发组件、服务器等等),软件支出(工具/引擎)、保险费、维修费、交通费、住宿费、活动费、订阅费、会员费、消耗品费用(纸张、墨水、电池、咖啡、牛奶等等)、法律服务费、金融和银行费用。如果你有招聘计划,还应对这块成本进行拆分。记录下引入的股份资本及董事,或者其它借款。

在预测成本和收入时,关注银行结余是很重要的。你绝对不希望陷入负债状态,因为这意味着你必须在早期进行集资。现金流对任何类型的企业来说都至关重要。即便你预测最终收入将大于支出,并且你的预测是正确的,仍可能出现某一时间段内收入无法覆盖支出的问题。

独立开发者刚开始选择与发行商合作的主要原因是,开发商能够为他们提供开发资金,并负责公关、营销、本地化、质量监控和提交文件。开发商带来的专业知识和资金支持是极为有用的。

寻求建议

把你的商业计划和现金流量预测展示给你信任和尊重的人,寻求他们的建议。向一名商业经验丰富的非执行董事征求意见是个不错的选择并且,显然最终决策权在你手上。这是你的公司。

与竞争对手的首次交锋将打破你的计划

公司和游戏真正建立和开发出来后,计划将会有所变化,这是完全正常的。每三个月更新一次计划,反思计划和执行结果的偏差,更新数据,调整未来的战略。

未来

但愿几年后,当你们回顾这份商业计划时,将看到它如何铺筑了你们的成功之路。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

A business plan is a concept that many startups think is either unnecessary or just a nice-to-have. It’s often seen as an annoying extra bit of admin that’s simply keeping you away from the fun of making games. The reality is that no matter how small scale your business is, or how great your ambitions, it’s a vital document that will stand you in great stead for the future. Thinking about what you want to achieve helps keep you focused, but it will still allow you to change course along the way if you need to. After all, you can only plan your route if you know your destination.

Our plan was to write great games

In 1986 we decided to turn our hobby into a business. We’d already had several games published, but few had made much money. Our goal was to earn more money than our father during our gap year, so we wouldn’t need to go to university and could carry on writing computer games. Back then there weren’t any university courses related to games or even computer graphics.

We signed up to the government’s Enterprise Allowance Scheme, which would pay us £70 a week for the first year but came with some strings attached. We’d have to attend college classes once a week to learn how to run a business. We attended sceptically, wondering what they could teach us, given that they knew nothing about games. In fact, it turned out they knew nothing about computers either.

Double-entry bookkeeping was relevant for recording our expenses and (hopefully) invoices, but the modules on writing a business plan (including cash flow forecast) seemed fairly pointless. There weren’t any frames of reference for our business, and the cash flow seemed a work of fantasy since sales were impossible to predict.

We did as we were asked, however, and soon realised that, unlike school work, there were no right and wrong answers, and it was useful to make sure we’d considered everything. We made some reasonably educated forecasts and it turned out to be an extremely useful exercise. We still have the plan — it’s not great, but it makes for fun and nostalgic reading. We even made a six month update to reflect on how things had panned out.

A plan is better than no plan

If you are serious about starting your own studio then you need a business plan. It’s going to take work to prepare, but nothing compared to the work you’ll put in afterwards running a business and writing games. It will help you discuss, in a structured way, all the things you need to think about. Very quickly you’ll realise that there’s a lot of work that isn’t making the game, but that’s what it means to be an indie developer. If all you want to do is make games then we’d recommend working in a full-time job at an established game studio. You’ll learn a great deal through being in the industry, and if you start a business later it’s more likely to succeed.

Have a plan and write it down

Remember there are no right and wrong answers. You are just capturing all the key information and your plans and predictions. You’re not aiming for a literary prize — keep everything clear and concise, date every document, title it and add the authors’ and contributors’ names.

Your business name should be unique and reflect the personality you wish to project short-, medium- and long-term. We’ve seen some bizarre names that might be appropriate during the start-up phase, but wouldn’t work if you have the success you are aiming for. Google your proposed name to ensure it isn’t too close to someone else’s name, especially if they are trading in a similar industry. Secure the domain with the .com if possible. Failing that, go for .co.uk, or .net, or even .tv or .games, so long as the company that has the .com is not in any business close to games.

Start with the overall vision of the business, keeping it concise and timeless. Perhaps include a mission statement. It’s not written in stone, and can be updated later if your business pivots. Describe your background, why you’re doing this, the people involved, the team’s experience and the skills they each bring to the venture. Agree who is responsible for each area of the business.

Include a SWOT analysis to identify your strengths and weaknesses, the opportunities open to you and the threats you face.

Things to be clear on

Not all of the following will appear in the business plan, but it’s important to be clear and make a record of these points, either in the plan or in Board Minutes:

Recognise what each founder brings in terms of money, equipment and intellectual property, and whether these are loaned or given.

Agree what ownership each person has of the business and what remuneration they will receive. Agree how any remuneration changes are to be agreed down the line, and what happens if someone wants to leave. Having this discussion at this point takes the emotion out if it actually happens, and ensures a fair resolution. You should also consider and decide how you would approach the situation if one of your team members is not pulling their weight, for whatever reason.

It’s a good idea to also work out how you will vote on major decisions, and what actually constitutes a major decision. We’d suggest it’s any commitment that could amount to a cost or income in excess of £10,000, but it’s whatever is right for you. The default in the case of a limited company is that voting is proportional to share holdings.

Company structure

Is this going to be a sole trader business, a partnership, or limited company? It’s usually advisable to start as a limited company. While this carries some set-up costs, it has several legal advantages and will allow you to take seed investment and (if you’re in the UK and qualify) you can claim Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR). Whatever you decide you will need a separate bank account, and you’ll need to agree what authorities are required for withdrawing money.

It’s good practice to sign up an accountant and lawyer (solicitor) at the beginning. Most practices have fair rates for start-ups and can provide useful advice in many areas. It’s ideal if they’ve previously worked with games companies as they will understand your business better. You will need to collect and record all receipts in a software package like Xero or Quickbooks — the accountant you choose will likely have a preference.

Clear Business Goals

Your business plan should include goals for the short-term (less than three months), medium-term (within the first year), and the long-term (either three or five years). Allow for some flexibility; for example, after two projects you may want to consider self-publishing. Record the alternatives; they are not commitments, just a record of thoughts you had when setting up the business.

Cash Flow is King

Include a cash flow forecast for at least one year. Use a spreadsheet with months across the top and categories down the left side.

The top section is traditionally income rows and should include sales and royalties broken out per game, with a miscellaneous ‘other’ row for income unrelated to specific games — for example, selling old equipment. Predicting sales of games you’ve not yet made will be tough, but it’s important to attempt it. This will force you to discuss your predictions and targets. We’d suggest you err on the pessimistic side.

The next section should cover all your anticipated costs, including salaries/remuneration, contractors, taxes and pensions. These will probably be zero until you predict there will be enough income to cover them. If you are taking on office space, add in rent and associated utilities. Other expenses include PR and marketing, hardware (PCs, dev kits, servers etc), software (tools/engine), insurance, repairs, travel, accommodation, event costs, subscriptions, memberships and consumables (paper, ink, batteries, coffee, milk, etc), legal, financial and bank costs. If you plan on taking on staff it’s useful to break out recruitment costs too. Record Share Capital introduced and any director or other loans.

The most important thing to keep track of is the projected bank balance. And you really don’t want this dipping into the red, which will almost certainly require cash injections early in the life of the business. Cash flow is vitally important for a business of any description. Even if you can predict correctly that your earning will exceed your costs, the timing of the money can cause serious issues.

The main reason indie developers often start out using publishers is to provide cash for development and take care of PR, marketing, localisation, QA and submissions. This is useful for the expertise they bring as well as finances.

Seek advice

Show your plan and cash flow forecast to people whose opinion you trust and respect and take their feedback. A non-exec director with serious business experience can be useful to advise also, although obviously the final decisions are yours. It’s your business.

“No plan survives first contact with the enemy”

As you develop your business and games you’ll find things change, and that’s absolutely fine. It’s a good idea to update your plan every three months. Reflect on what you’ve done against what you planned to do, update the numbers and adjust your strategy and plans going forward.

The future

Hopefully in a few years’ time you too will look back on this early business plan and see how it set the course for your successful business. (source:Gamesindustry.biz

 


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