How to start your own game development studio and succeed

By David Harrison
Content writer
Published: 7 March 2018 | Last update: 11 April 20201 minute read

Table of Contents

You’re an independent developer with great ideas ready to smash the gaming world and a desire to succeed. Although establishing your own business in this rich, vibrant and wildly dynamic sector will take many hours of dedicated hard work, the potential for making it big is within your grasp. Regardless of whether your passion is for 1st person shooters, puzzles, simulators, real-time strategy, massively multiplayer online (MMO), role-playing (RPG) or educational games, the support network that can help turn your hardcore gaming hobby into a thriving business venture is out there. All you need to do is seize the moment and make it happen. So if reaping the rewards of becoming your own boss is something that interests you, here are just some of the obstacles you need to overcome in order scale up and succeed at running your own game production studio.

1.Know your market

First, you need to conduct rigorous market research. This is going to involve reading volumes of articles, analytic reports, news stories, conducting surveys and talking with as many industry sources as possible. Using these findings you’ll be in a much stronger position to pinpoint which market is suitable for your vision, who your target audience consists of, what types of games they play, what their preferred platforms are (console, PC, mobile, tablet, facebook, etc...) and - above all - tell whether it’s a profitable avenue to explore. So, by developing a thorough understanding of the ins and outs of your chosen market, and updating it constantly, you’ll be one step closer towards achieving a thriving business in the gaming sector.

Do you love playing video games? Have a desire to produce the types of games that you love? Learn more about what funding opportunities are available to help you run your own game development studio

2.Assemble a great team

You need a great product idea but you also need to bring together a passionate and dedicated team of like-minded gamers who can help turn your dream into a reality. As well as sharing a love for the same types of games you like to play and produce, you also need to make sure that you’re bringing on board a team of gamers who have the skills and expertise you need. Make sure your team fits in with your company culture and can adapt as your business changes. Along with the technical skills (the type of engine(s) that you use will determine the look, feel and finish of the games you produce) making sure that you’ve got the necessary talent in place to grow your company is essential, just like any other start-up.

3.Form a scalable monetisation strategy

Before you produce anything you need to work out how each of your titles is going to generate the revenue that will allow you to scale your business. Are you thinking free-to-play or paid for games? Are you going to introduce downloadable content to help with revenue or are you thinking of offering in-game purchases or selling ad space to recoup your costs? Will you adapt your business plan as you go along or build a community and stick with the same model from the start? By basing your monetisation strategy around your audience you are less likely to frustrate your core gamers. Your community might prefer to pay for an expansion upfront, rather than paying for add-ons, and this may also serve as a stepping stone if you aim to move away from free-to-play titles and explore other avenues such as Steam and releasing hard copies.

Ultimately, if you’re able to maintain a reliable fanbase and earn a reliable revenue on the back them, you’ll be able the cover your production costs and generate a profit. If your studio is profitable, you can use this to justify applying for business finance. This would help you to scale up by allowing you to bring on board more games engines, new talent or even to acquire larger premises. So if you’ve got a successful monetisation strategy in place, there’s no limit to the number of ways you can scale up your business and gain a tangible presence in this sector. Just remember not to make your monetising strategy too overbearing or you could see players abandoning your games for those produced by your competitors.

4.Promote your business

One of the biggest challenges for any game producer is marketing. In an industry saturated by giants such as EA Games, Bethesda, Atari, Bungie, Blizzard and so on, pinning down how your going to get your game noticed by your target audience is just as important as producing high-quality titles. After all, what’s the point of making the game if no one knows it exists? Social media is a great start, as well as attending or promoting your game at events such as EGX/Rezzed. Word of mouth is a great equaliser, and this is where some mobile game producers have been smart by getting their players to invite their friends in order to access new levels, unlock items or gain speed boosts.

Another way of getting your games seen is through influencer marketing, which can be very useful for both big name and indie game developers alike. This involves attracting the aid of professional game bloggers such as DanTDM, GameRiot, JackSepticEye and so on who’ll upload videos of themselves playing your games onto their Youtube channels. These Youtube personalities often attract the attention of the younger generation of gamers, so if you can get your games into the hands of these vloggers you could gain exposure to millions of gamers worldwide.

5. Securing the right funding to scale

A question that many game developers often ask is how much does it cost to produce a game. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this as it depends on a number of factors. But if you’re intent on releasing new titles, some of the factors you need to consider include:

  • Which engines are you going to use?
  • How much time do you need to produce your game?
  • Will you need a license?
  • How big is your team and how much can you afford to pay them?
  • How much do you intend to spend on marketing?
  • How much are the necessary equipment and programs?
  • Are you going to need access to servers?
  • Are there any troubleshooting issues to resolve?
  • How will you keep your customer accounts secure?

As such, running a game development studio can run up a large number of costs which can be difficult to handle your own. Most entrepreneurs are aware of Crowdfunding, but there are a number of other funding opportunities available that could help you raise the necessary capital to kick-start your business.

Want to start your own game development studio?

For many of us, gaming offers a break to relax and socialise, whilst losing ourselves in an adventure. However, as a tech entrepreneur that may not be enough for you. You may have the skill and imagination to want to create stories and experiences that the wider gaming community will enjoy, whilst reaping the benefits of running your own business. As such, starting or scaling up your own game studio could be an attractive proposition. Yet in order to turn your burgeoning love games into a thriving business venture, you need access to the necessary funds to make it happen.

But thanks to Enterprise M3 and G3 (Galvanising Guildford Games), in association with Rangewell, you now have the opportunity to discover How to Access Funding to Grow your Gaming Business and learn more about what the Alternative Finance Industry has to offer. At Rangewell, we work with over 300 lenders to offer you an overview of more than 23,000 business finance products. Our services are free to use and we’ll also guide through the entire application process. So if you're looking to start a game development business, find out more about specialised finance for gaming.

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