What Makes a Winning Game Development Team?

The video game industry is stronger than ever before. Statistics indicate that the industry has growing rate that is four times faster than the present overall U.S. economy growth. However, there is always potential for chaos with such rapid growth and game development companies know the importance of making informed decisions, particularly when it comes to personnel.

The game development industry is changing; games are more often purchased online than they are in person. This and the growing popularity of smartphone apps has allowed numerous independent game developers joining the party.

This popularity and positive mass response is to be attributed in partly to the modern online distribution channels and easily accessible cutting-edge development tools like UNITY.

Data suggests that there are certain parts of the world where more indie game developers hail from. As you might have guessed, US and Europe leads the pack, however Asia and Australia are also catching up as we have seen a lot of fantastic games published by Naver or Line Games from Asia and by Australian companies like Halfbricks Studios (Fruit Ninja) and The Mascoteers (360 Degree) etc.

Recipe for an awesome game development team

More often than not, making a successful app is about ideas and execution; both of which depend on your team greatly. In fact, it’s probably the most important factor in determining how successful the games are going to be. But getting a good team together is by no means straightforward.

The team will cover everything from programming, design and art, sound engineering, business development and project management. What is required is to pick out the right individuals and bring them together. Leadership and mentoring are also necessary.

While developing a game team, members with following characteristics are proven to be more suitable in context of better productivity and results:

Shared vision & purposeful dedication

When everyone on the game team understands the purpose and vision behind the game and dedicatedly works towards the goal, it’s more likely to be realised.

Complementing skill sets among team members

The concept of team comes from the idea of one member of the team contributing his/her expertise, which covers for another member’s limitations and vice versa. So, in the field of game development where various skill-sets are required, it becomes very important to balance these skill-sets as much as possible.

Good communication

Team members who can openly and articulately communicate with each other, are more effectively able to share ideas and visualize concepts, which is a must for a game development team.

Shared responsibilities

Game development requires a lot of operational and developmental sprints before it is completed. And the team only succeeds when everyone carries out assigned responsibilities, with a sense of accountability. This is an important characteristics of a top-notch game development team and a good working project of any kind.

A fun workplace

Games are supposed to be fun, and it certainly helps if team members are passionate and enjoy the project themselves game development is all fun. This has a lot to do with the kind of working space and culture you have instilled. There is nothing wrong with making it a playful and creative space, which will make for a fun, energetic atmosphere.

Resolving issues together

Due to the massive workloads involved in the game development process, each team member is allotted a heavy chunk of tasks to accomplish, all leading up to the sole unified cause of a successful game release. Often, troubleshooting collectively and overcoming challenges as a team can be effective, even when a single member encounters any problem. As all the processes are intertwined in game development and simultaneous adjustments are required for any problem, the entire team is to exhibit unison in commitment of resolving issues. When all the team members demonstrate their commitments towards the goal, they deliver better value by going that extra mile.


While hiring team members for a game development team, an applicant with Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or Game Development degree is obviously a good start. However, creative minds are also needed; often this can be difficult to spot in an applicant.

The concept of Meritocracy prevails in the game industry, as it’s often more about the experience and less about the degree or certificate. Someone who has a portfolio of games to show off, someone who may have made even small-scope games independently besides studying definitely edges out the competition and should be given priority in hiring.

Technical departments

There are also some technical aspects of game development team management that can help to ensure success. Let’s take a look at those technical and core management factors that can be important.

Programming department

Often functioning as an independent team, this department should also be entitled with the responsibilities of tools and website development, along with the most significant responsibility of game development or installer creation.

The design team

The Design Team make decisions on designs and maintain relative design documentation, while the Art Department is to be assigned with responsibilities of game art and marketing material design. Artists are required for this department, especially those that can work well with the programmers and have the necessary knowledge to ensure technical requirements are met. Collaboration of art and design teams are also to be ensured for the best look and feel of the game.

The sound department

while often inadvertently overlooked, is a vital cog in the development of a game as it helps to give an atmosphere to a game. This adds a great deal of value to the game if managed properly, leading to a heightened experience for the users.

Project management

The project managers of a game team play a vital role in maintaining the momentum of the team and making sure that projects stay on budget and are completed in time.

Standard project management makes sure team members are performing their duties and no one is trailing behind, which may hinder overall progress.

Business development

Your success is closely tied to how well you market your games and the business decisions you make. You can create a great game but if you don’t plan the business side of things out, it may not get the attention it deserves.

A department of business developers should responsible to make sure that the developed games generate profit. The dedicated department develop a suitable business plan for a game which includes all the marketing, sales, strategic approach etc. Only People who have solid expertise in the areas of Marketing Strategy, Market Insight, Finance and Economic Assessment and Cash Flow Summary are suitable.

Challenges involved

Just as in any industry, the game development industry and individual companies face unique challenges of their own. The monotony of repetitive work, the rise of stress level from developmental pressures, impractical publisher demands and various other problems can dismantle a game development team’s morale and spirits. Despite the game industry’s overall growth, developing a good team for quality game production can be difficult given financial constraints and a limited talent pool. These volatile conditions are indicated in IGDA’s 2015 Employee Satisfaction Survey which reveals that the average game developer has held four jobs in the past five years. People who get into game development because they are genuinely passionate about making games are usually the kind of people that are versatile and can work well in teams that have one goal in mind. Even if someone has all the necessary domain knowledge, skills and experience to be counted as a good candidate, some crucial characteristics such as cool under pressure, adaptability and commitment may be missing. These are equally as important in a successful game development team.

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