Costs, salaries etc


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edited in Questions and Answers
Hi everyone.

I run a successful non gaming company and have always dreamed of working for/owning a game dev business (most of us here do I believe)
I've been playing with the idea lately of funneling some of my extra cash into getting a team together but I have no idea of exactly how much cash.
Profit share is good and well, but realistically the profits are rarely worth it. The reason why I want to do this is to create fun games, screw the profits.

What I need to know is the average salary you guys are willing to work for + profit shares ( :P )
I would love to take junior coders/designers in and help them develop their careers, but I dont have the required skills to teach them (been dabbling with coding etc but it's not for me - I'm more of a networker/business developer)

Any suggestions on where to start? What type of expenses am I looking at? Can code from home 100's of KM's away from each other work for a team? What are your thoughts?

Looking forward to the replies!

Comments


  • Notice: Undefined variable: GuestHourOffset in /home/nitrogen/public_html_mgsatest/forums/themes/mgsa/class.mgsathemehooks.php on line 281
    I'd suggest taking a look at the job posts on this board to take a look at what some other game studios have offered in their job postings in the past. Very rough figures seem to be ~R8k for a junior position, ~R20k for a mid-level (programming) position, and... well, nobody really advertises for seniors it seems, because there are few enough of them that I imagine they get contacted directly. :P

    Those seem to be ballpark figures, and with teams as small as they generally are locally, I think the variance is pretty huge because of how much difference one person can make in a smallish team (positively or negatively). Also, those are salaried rather than profit share. (Though personally I've been highly sceptical of doing profit share because I'm yet to work on a project where the profit share has actually equalled or bettered what my salaried/freelance rate would've been.)

    If you're looking at helping fund something, perhaps lurking on the forums and looking for projects that you think have potential would be a good way to go. You then have an initial prototype, so you have a pretty good idea of the direction of the product and what its costs would be, and can make better estimates at what sort of gains in quality you could get by adding some extra staff.

    I think working remotely has become more and more viable, as long as communication remains strong. In the past, colleagues and I working remotely on our art team have just sat in a Google hangout all day (fast, uncapped internet), which allowed us to converse whenever we needed to, and also allowed us to see what everyone else was doing and offer suggestions and critique. Art has always been far easier to communicate with pictures than words.

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    edited
    So I'm going to come at this from a slightly different angle and ask what you have to offer a game development team:

    If what you have to offer is money from your other business, then bring the big salaries - pay what people outside the games industry earn so that skilled people can spend their time making games instead of having to worry about supporting their families. Assemble a dream team, let them make cool stuff.

    If what you have to offer is business skills, okay cool. I'd argue that maybe the game business is different to other businesses, but things like acquiring clients and dealing with websites and press are relatively transferable. If this is you, then join an existing team and free their programmer/design/art/audio people from having to handle tasks that take them away from production.

    If what you have to offer is management skill and scheduling wizardry. Again, join an existing team and solve their management and schedule problems. There will definitely be a large adjustment period as both you and the people you're working with come to terms with the various scheduling woes around game development and it's ludicrously complex dependencies.

    If what you have to offer is space, desks and PCs. I'm not convinced that's useful. Internet access and distance work exist :)

    If what you have to offer is ideas. Well... So does everybody else. And most of those people also have other skills that are useful. The ones that are running teams have histories of completing games and portfolios full of rad stuff. So build your own portfolio of rad completed stuff first. If you do that publicly, people will ask to join in and work with you, which is how you build a team around an idea.

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    edited
    I think gaming is a terrible business.

    I mean that with the utmost respect, of course. In traditional business, you create a product, market the product, and generate revenue from the product. If you're lucky, people will evangelize your product.

    In gaming, it's a whole lot more temperamental, and I think that has to do with the sort of industry it is. It's a lot more like live entertainment than it is software development. In the latter, you identify a problem, formulate a solution, and get paid to implement it. In entertainment, you need to know how your audience feels, and how to adapt your story to appeal to them. And you don't always get that right.

    I think gaming is characterized by a few winners, and a whole lot of losers, and you need to be prepared to lose before you can play. People won't buy your game just because you sunk a million rand into it - they'll buy it because they want to.

    If you're looking for a stable business in the gaming industry, I'd suggest going for support services more than actual games. Gold rush theory: It wasn't the miners making the money, it was the people selling them the pickaxes. Start a business that hires coders, visual and sound artists, writers, and then turn a profit by selling that to other game developers.

    That's at least a lot more like a traditional business, with relationships and marketing mattering more than whether or not the market feels up to spending money with you that day.

    As for the original question, salaries and costs, all I can say is: You get what you pay for, and when it comes to creative art, you're generally not paying people to work on your ideas. You're paying people NOT to work on theirs, so either you need deep wallets, or a talent pool of unambitious creatives: I'm not sure which is worse.
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