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Would you work for free?

by Andre Faure on 04/02/20 10:26:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Would you work for free?

I have previously written an article on LinkedIn about the value of time. Unfortunately, I’m still having very bad examples of industry professionals that not only do not respect other professional’s time, but, covered by a big brand, try to economically abuse smaller companies.

Let’s put this way: I’m 43 years old, and I’m completely dedicated to the games industry for the last 23 years. It is obvious to say that more than half of my time in this world have been focused on this job. Then, 6 years ago, I decide to leave a very successful career to open my own consultancy, which now employs 8 people and is growing 35% YoY. One might say that I’m doing alright. I tend to believe that so, and more than ever, I’m aware of the value of time, and how tasks and prospecting should be in their right places.

Yes, I'm OLD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The thing is, I build this company to cater to ALL companies in our ecosystem. Small or big, large or small budgets, we are ready to serve them ALL. That said, it makes the added value of what we do much more important, also because we work with business intelligence, another precious asset. It is my job, along with my executive team, to protect that value. We try to be as fair as possible, and affordable as possible, so even very small indie studios can access that valuable data. Of course, that comes from a balance with larger clients, and that’s honest and fair.

So, jump to last week, we received a request from a new prospect, a very large developer, with strong IPs. They wanted to check us out, and see if we could be of assistance for Latin America because, well, this is where we are and quite sincerely, there is an important lack of information circulating about the region. First talks where great, we’ll send you a list of questions to evaluate your capabilities. So far, so good, right?

I must say that, when the list arrived, I stood in shock in from of my screen. Requests for very specific data, segmentation, volumes, revenue, contacts from all the major stakeholders along the supply chain etc. In a nutshell, if all questions answered with care, you’d have a full business intelligence report ready to go. They wanted our bread and butter for free, to “evaluate” if we were good enough to work with them.

I did as my experience told me to – answered the few questions that were not attached to the data they were looking for, and sent a report quote so we could answer the rest – easily a 50+ pages document. Their answer is the reason I’m writing this article. They really wanted all for free, so we could have the “privilege” of being evaluated by such a magnificent brand. I was (and am still) appalled.

I’m not sure of for the dishonesty, or for the courage or for they being simply so sure that we’d be that naive to the point of actually delivering the report for free, and waiting for them to say it was “not enough” and using the information to their service anyway. Just to clarify, I’m open to this kind of test, but with the condition that the terms are fair for both ends, and we get paid for what we deliver.

The empty promise of giving up my company’s talent and time for the potential chance of working for this or that major brand in the industry does not cut for me anymore. I’m wiser than this, and I answered the email with the pure reality. I’m not afraid of anyone holding the banner of a corporation. Today you are in that position, the next day you might not. The brand does not give you the right to use grey tactics to achieve your objectives, nor give you the right to abuse your power on smaller companies.

I believe this testimonial can be quite informative for smaller studios and service providers like me. Do not get carried away by empty promises. You have your valor, your ethics, your product or service. Obviously is very tempting to do whatever it takes to get a contract from a major publisher, developer or brand. It is very exciting – when terms are fair, and honest, best efforts are involved. Take this advice from me, if you will: there is not enough money in the world that pays for an abusive business relationship. Take care and stay safe!


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