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Being a (pure evil) business developer #1

by Marcin Kaleta on 06/06/18 09:31:00 am

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

 

Hello,

My name is Jacek Głowacki and I’m the head of business development at iFun4all (the developer behind such games as 'Serial Cleaner', 'Green Game: TimeSwapper' and 'Red Game Without a Great Name'). It’s a pleasure to be able to share my specific point of view via this blog. In this first short entry I will try to outline basis of my own experience and views and in the second part I will tell you what is it like to be a business developer in a small indie studio.

Why my specific point of view, you’d ask? Well, my area of expertise is business development, hence I basically represent all the evil things in games development players could imagine 

Yes, it’s us, business developers, who are responsible for DLCs, microtransactions, pre-orders, loot boxes etc. That’s true. All of this and much more has been (and will be) figured out by very talented people, whose solely responsibility is to boost the brand’s / company’s revenues, as the primary role of every business developer is to bring money into the company. BUT, not every business developer is the same and not every game development studio or publishing company works the same way.

Therefore I thought that it might be especially interesting for you, fans of games, to take a little bit different perspective on making games. There are dozens of more or less expert-level talks and texts regarding games development, whether we’re talking programming, art editing, design, but also aspects like project management, PR, marketing (also pure evil, bur everybody knows that!), event hosting etc. But it’s really hard to learn „processes” of business development in our industry. Most of players never use this term while expressing their opinions about literally anything connected with games. They blame or praise publishers, big brands, corporations etc., often forgetting that there’s an individual behind every decision, strategy and fuckup… Everyone can become a business developer in a games company, but I guess only the few will enjoy it and even less will be successful. My personal ambition is to be one some day, for I’m still a very inexperienced (a little more than two years in a minor position at Techland Publishing and now as the chief of BD at iFun4all), and I already learned that I don’t know everything, which is inspiring and gives hope for a better future. 

I was lucky enough to spend five years of my life as a gaming journalist in Poland, move to a major developer and publisher later on and decide that I’d rather work in a small, almost anonymous development studio in the end. I’m very happy here, despite the typical chaos of everyday life, crazy level of flexibility necessary and constant lack of funds. It’s a normal situation for most of game developers out there nowadays and I’m sure you folks would like to know more. And you prefer to keep it a little more personal and direct. Well, you just found your guy! It’s a blog after all, not a handbook for God’s sake! 

Lest just dive into it. So, what is it like to be a business developer in a small indie studio? Well, let me be straight about it: it’s a nightmare  Nobody knows you, nobody respects you and nobody gives a fuck about you and what you’re trying to achieve. Well, except your boss of course, but that’s different, obviously. Your most important task as a business developer is to merge the skills and responsibilities of a diplomat with those of a merchant. Sell (and / or buy!) with class. Maintain great relations with business partners. Look out for new opportunities. Co-create the company’s strategy of development. Diversify revenues. Minimize costs. Be well informed (hunt for every gossip!). Know everything about games, platforms, trends and companies. Travel around the world, meet people, attend networking events. Sounds pretty cool, doesn't it? Of course it does! In my humble opinion it’s the best job in the world. Sure, it’s not as hard as being the miner. Or a surgeon. But there are significant problems…

The biggest problem is the contemporary market. One beautiful Wednesday couple of weeks ago exactly 83 games launched on Steam. One Wednesday. There are around 700 thousand games in the App Store. All these amazing engines like UE4 are available for free and there are hundreds of tutorials how to handle them, also for free. Basically, there are no entry barriers in the industry any more, but costs rise, hence it’s more and more challenging to achieve demanded ROI (Return on Investment) because of evergrowing competitiveness. Oh, and also, you have no idea what your competition is doing and when they are going to show any piece of their new project to the world. Being a business developer is a little like being a goalkeeper in a football (soccer for you, Americans) team. You’re on your own, you’re the last line of defense but also first to attack. If you let the ball get inside the net – you fucked up. If you save the shot – you’re just doing your job. And sometimes you’re a hero. But not very often… Once a hundred matches maybe 

There are thousands of studios like iFun4all in many countries. And all of us are trying to do exactly the same – find a publisher, who will give us money so we could finish our game (and get some sales revenues). Build international reputation to transform into Rovio, or Supercell someday. Become famous and rich. Sit and wait for invitations to meetings in San Fran and Paris and not spam people about meetings. Grow. Make our creative dreams come true. Not think about the possibility of being broke soon. Breath games and play as much of fascinating, innovative indie games as possible. Hire super cool, talented employees and make friends with interesting people. Be nominated to awards and win at least one. Support charity thanks to the tremendous success we just achieved. Quite a list of tasks to perform before death  It’s not going to be easy, but it’s worth it!

I guess that’s enough for the first main theme on this blog. I’ve introduced myself and shared some very general thoughts running through my head. I hope you’ll read these with interest and feel personal attachment to the form I decided to take Also, I thought it would be great to finish every post with one of those generic quotes that teach how to live better. I love all those motivational coaches and other charlatans. The can really make my day and I hope that I can make yours the same way  Hence the quote for today is:

„Constantly improve”

Beautiful!

Thanks for your attention and see you soon 

Best,

Jacek


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