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从管理者的角度谈游戏公司如何避免失败

发布时间:2020-04-22 08:58:56 Tags:,

从管理者的角度谈游戏公司如何避免失败

原作者:Matt Binkowski 译者:Willow Wu

你可能不喜欢我接下来要说的话:经过我多年来对游戏行业各个领域的观察,我总结出一个事实:公司倒闭往往是因为高层没有做好他们的工作。

就跟其它行业一样,电子游戏开发公司也需要一个发号施令的人带领大家前进。如果你担当的是这样的角色,那你就不是开发者。你的任务不是做游戏,或者参与到项目的细节制作。你有更重要的作用,职责范围也更广。制定短期&长期策略、建立用户基础、决定要为他们开发什么样的产品、关注你的收入来源、现金流,当然还有你的团队。

而在公司规模很小、人们期望你身兼多职的情况下,出现意见分歧时不要只顾着拼命摇头,了解不同职位的需求仍然是至关重要的。

建立强大的基础

在制作过程中,你和你的开发团队会不可避免地遇到各种决策困境,这时你必须担起领导者的角色,做出决定。有时候,你所做的决策是基于个人意见和偏好的,而不是真正考虑到什么对玩家才是最好的从而为业务的长期发展带来积极影响。结果就是,预算超额、进度严重落后,团队中的成员可能会感到沮丧、气恼,他们不得不加班。

Marvel Strike Force(from pocketgamer.biz)

Marvel Strike Force(from pocketgamer.biz)

这一切可以避免吗?简单回答是:可以。但是这需要公司的管理者在第一天就给出清晰的项目目标,这样当困境出现时,大家就有指南可以参考,同心协力解决这些问题。

如果是自筹资金、自主发行的公司,这一点就更为关键了。首先,你要确定在哪一段时间发行游戏、具体的开发时间线——这需要根据市场的评估情况、合作机会、公司现金流状况来规划。

确定了日期后,接下来你要考虑的是第二个关键因素:项目的预算。决定一个数额看起来是挺简单的,但是众所周知,实际开销还是很难控制的。如何确定自己的可担负数额,这要根据你的商业模式、产品价格和预期收入来判断。

你也应该认真思考下游戏的质量是否匹配你的目标,要着眼于现实,避免不切实际的幻想。谁不想胸有成竹地地说“我们会挣上1亿美元的!”但问题是,你真的做得到吗?历史上有哪些游戏收益达到九位数的?分析一下他们的制作水准、视觉效果、内容量。你有条件做出类似的产品吗?

如果你的第一个独立游戏预算超了两倍,开发过程中你一直在超负荷工作,最后游戏只延期了一点点发行,这就已经算是很厉害了。不管你之前有多少团队合作经验、游戏开发经验,你需要拥有相当丰富的知识才能在那个神圣的日子顺利发行。

构思产品愿景,并为整个团队提供清晰的方向,这是很多人都做不好的一件事。还有就是预测和控制创新&制作风险的能力。最后,你需要学习如何让团队运作——让所有成员发挥自己的角色作用。实际比看起来的复杂很多。

从金融角度上说,把处女作的目标设定为实现收支平衡,这才是合理的。第一个项目带来的经验教训肯定会为你未来的工作打下基础,不管成功与否,你的努力都绝对不会白费。

又或许,你在熟悉的领域有丰富的经验、有拿得出手的作品,但你正在进入一个新的小众市场或激烈竞争的市场。在这种情况下,你同样不应该期望能够立即盈利。然而,你可以专注于在市场上建立一个稳固的立足点,并为以后的进一步扩张打下基础。

即使你相当自信,准备成为这一领域的主宰者,在整个过程中也要坚持对自己和你的团队始终坦诚——明确传达你的目标,确保每个人都理解项目的规模和质量要求,以及你作为团队成员对他们的期望。只有这样,你们才能真正有意义地讨论细节和计划的可行性。

在有限的时间、预算内你能达到理想中的质量标准吗?技术、工具、渠道你都有吗?在开始的时候就一起制定计划,这样大家能更好地应对一些无法预见的困难。

计划业务增长

所有的公司经营者都想提升公司的价值——或者是通过发行一款大制作、高水准的产品,或者是同时开发多个产品来扩大规模。但是,我们大部分人都明白,增长是一个过程,它不会突然神奇地出现。

预先讨论和确定团队的增长目标是确保每个项目都朝着正确方向迈进的关键一步。为了完成项目你需要学习什么知识、技能?开发这个游戏需要什么工具、技术?你还需要哪些人才?就比如,你需要知道Steam/Epic平台的发行流程,或者你需要开发新技术才有资本跟其他人竞争。又或者你想给游戏设计一个非常具有标志性的画风,那就需要一位优秀的艺术总监来指导你的画师了。

提前考虑两至三款游戏有利于制定更加合理的计划。要达到你理想中的执行水准,你需要拥有特定技能的人才负责不同的工序、工具和技术。你肯定不想花上若干年的时间开发一个赛车游戏所需的技术和工具包,然后又突发奇想把注意力转移到开放世界RPG游戏上。不同的游戏类型有不同的难点以及微妙之处,随着电子游戏市场越来越成熟化,无论在哪个类型领域,激烈竞争都是无可避免的。踏踏实实积累相关经验、充分利用团队的优势是保持领先地位的唯一途径。

品牌以及工作室的目标也是需要一直强调的。你想让自己声名远扬吗?如果是的话,你代表的是什么?哪些东西是不可或缺的?如果开发陷入了困境,你愿意牺牲哪些内容或技能?确定内部的品牌目标能够帮助团队保持讨论的透明度。所有的决定都需要解释,每个人都喜欢正当的理由而不是“因为这是我决定的。”

为销售做好准备

对于工作室负责人来说,游戏的实际销售是一个看似肤浅但非常重要的话题。然而令人心痛的是,现实中几乎没有人会在意——除非他们不得不在意。为了获取粉丝、合作伙伴、网红和媒体的关键支持,你需要明确地追求销量。

问问你自己,想和谁合作,你希望用户看到什么。如果你是初出茅庐的新手开发者,让用户知道你的存在是一个不错的开始。塑造出一个值得信赖的形象,这样你能获得一些原本遇不到的机会。记住,重点在于付出而不是索取。思考他们为什么想跟你合作,你能提供什么样的帮助。也许你的游戏很好地展现出他们的硬件性能或者你提供的内容跟他们的用户需求契合。

另一个需要考虑的关键事项是要不要自主发行。你知道怎么在目标平台上充分展示游戏特点、撰写吸引人的介绍文吗?你是营销能手吗?如果答案是否定的,花些时间寻找合适的合作伙伴——或许一家发行商——告诉他们你的目标是什么,让他们助你一臂之力。

你能在没有商业目标的情况下,依靠直觉和个人观点做出一个成功的游戏吗?是有可能。但是想让你的游戏业务长期而成功地发展下去,这需要很多努力和远见。你需要借助强大的合作力量在这样一个遵循帕雷托法则(即大部分的市场份额是由一小部分人掌控的)的市场中存活下去,这是一场战争。

未来有很多的不确定性,但是拥有一个好的计划和适合的战略同盟,你成功的机会自然也会变大。谁都无法保证你会成功,运气也是所需条件之一,但就如Louis Pasteur的那句名言:机会总是留给有准备的人。那你正在等什么呢?是时候集结队伍,构思计划了!

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

You’re not going to like what I’m about to say: I’ve observed enough reality across all areas of the video games business to know that more often than not, companies fail because the people at the top aren’t doing their jobs properly.

Fundamentally, like any business, video game development companies need a commander-in-chief to lead the charge. If you are that person, you are not the developer. Your job isn’t to make the game, or get involved in the production details. Your role is bigger, broader. Defining the short and long term strategies, establishing a customer base, deciding what product to build for them, looking after your revenue streams, cash flow and, of course, your team.

For those furiously head-shaking in disagreement because your business is small and you’re expected to wear multiple hats, it is still crucial to understand the requirement of wearing each of them.

Build a strong foundation

Throughout the production process, you and your development team will inevitably face tough decisions that require your input as the person at the top. At times, you may end up making calls based on personal, unavoidably biased opinions and preferences — rather than deciding what’s best for the gamers and, ultimately, your business. As a consequence, budgets get blown, timelines are delayed, and people on your team become frustrated, overworked and resentful.

Can this be avoided? The short answer is yes. But it requires your company’s top management setting clear business objectives for projects from day one, so that when those tough decisions do arise, there are guidelines on hand that allow you to address them properly as a team.

This is especially key if you are self-funding and self-publishing your products. You’ll firstly want to aim for a specific release window and production timeline — which you should decide upon by assessing the situation in the market, partnership opportunities, and your company’s cash flow.

Once you’ve picked a date, it’s time to consider the second significant factor: your project’s budget. Seemingly easy to decide, yet notoriously difficult to stick to. The amount you can afford to spend should be judged against your business model, product price, and expected revenue.

You should also, critically, consider the game quality required to justify the above. Stay as close to reality as possible, and avoid wishful thinking. Who wouldn’t love to declare they’re going to make $100 million, but ask yourself: can you deliver it? Which games have historically made that kind of money? Consider their production value, visual quality, how much content they have. Are you equipped to build a game like that?

If you’re producing your first independent game, shipping it without significant delay, tripling your budget, and almost dying in the process is a phenomenal achievement. Regardless of your experience with other teams and games, you’ll need to acquire vast levels of knowledge to reach that Holy Grail release date.

One essential thing that is rarely done right is establishing your product vision and providing clear direction for the whole team. Another is the ability to anticipate and manage creative and production risks. Finally, you need to learn how to function as a team — with all members working effectively in their roles. It’s tougher than it seems.

In reality, aiming for your inaugural game to break even, financially, is an entirely fair ambition. What you learn the first time round will undeniably set you up for any future projects, so your efforts will be far from wasted.

Perhaps, on the other hand, you have more experience and a few games under your belt, but you’re entering a new niche or a fiercely competitive genre. In this case, you equally shouldn’t expect to be instantly quids in. You can, however, focus on establishing a firm foothold in the market, and building foundations for further expansion later.

Even if you’re at the most confident end of the spectrum and feel ready to dominate the market, remain honest with yourself and your team throughout the process — defining and communicating your aims clearly, and ensuring everyone understands the scope and required quality of the project, along with your expectations of them as a team member. Only then can you truly have meaningful discussions about specifics and their viability.

Can you achieve the quality you want within the timeframe and budget? Do you have skills, tools and pipelines in place? Make a plan, together, at the start, and you’ll be better equipped to conquer unforeseen hurdles later.

Plan your business growth

All business owners want to grow their company’s value. Perhaps by building a single large-scale, high-production product, or by scaling to develop multiple products at the same time. But, as most of us can already guess, it never happens magically.

Defining and discussing your team’s growth goals up front is key to making sure each project is a step in the right direction. What do you need to learn to complete the project? What tools and tech should you develop? Who else should you hire? For instance, you may want to learn how to get published on Steam or Epic, or you need to develop geometry streaming technology to keep up with the competition. Or perhaps you want your games to have a signature art style, for which you’ll need a fantastic art director that can lead and coach your artist.

Thinking two or even three games ahead would make for sensible planning. Because to operate at the level you desire you’ll need specific people, with particular skills, operating distinct pipelines, tools, and technology. The last thing you want is to spend years building the tech and skillsets to make racing games, only to decide on a whim that you’ll now focus on open-world RPGs. There are too many complexities and nuances in every genre, and with the video game market getting more mature, you can expect fierce competition everywhere you go. Carefully building relevant experience and leaning on your team’s collective strengths is the only way to stay ahead of the game.

The goals of your brand and studio are also something to cement along the way. Do you want to consciously make a name for yourself and, if so, what do you stand for? What could you fundamentally not exist without, and what offering or skillsets would you be willing to sacrifice if things get tough? Defining internal brand goals will help team discussions remain transparent. All decisions need explaining and everyone will appreciate a concrete justification in the place of “because I said so.”

Equip yourself to sell

An often trivialised yet all-important topic for studio heads is the actual selling of your game. The heartbreaking reality is, nobody cares about it — until you make them care. To gain the crucial support of fans, partners, influencers and press, you need to explicitly go after it.

Ask yourself, who do you want to partner with, and how do you want to be seen? If you’re nobody from nowhere and just getting started, making sure they know you exist is an excellent place to start. And if you can render yourself as someone reliable and trustworthy, it can open you to opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise get. Just remember that it’s about giving not taking. Think about why they would want to partner with you. How can you help them? Maybe your game makes a fantastic display of their hardware capabilities, or perhaps you provide content that is relevant for their audience.

Another critical thing to consider is if you can publish yourself. Do you know how to adequately present and position your products on the platforms you want to be seen on? Are you a dab hand at marketing? If the answer, in reality, is no, take your time to find the right partner — perhaps a publisher — and tell them where you want to be and let them help you get there.

Can you create a successful game without having business objectives, following only gut feelings and biased opinions? It could happen. But establishing a successful gaming business, long term, takes a lot more fight and foresight. It’s an immensely cooperative effort, in an immensely competitive marketplace which — like many creative entities — follows the brutal Pareto principle of a small percentage commanding most of the market share. Which can only mean one thing: this is war.

There’s plenty of uncertainties, but with a good plan and the right strategic allies, you have a decent chance of success. A chance of success. There are no guarantees. You will need some luck to win, but as Louis Pasteur famously said: “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” So what are you waiting for? It’s time to rally the troops and draw up the plans.

(source: gamesindustry.biz


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