How to Start a Game Studio [Link Roundup]

Allison Bokone
Allison Bokone
·
Last updated on May 22, 2024

Starting a video game company is an exhilarating journey that blends creativity, passion, and entrepreneurship. However, it also comes with its own set of challenges and concerns. Whether you aspire to create indie gems or AAA titles, we’ll provide you with valuable insights to help you dive into the exciting world of video game development and explore the steps to launch your game studio successfully.

How to Start a Video Game Company

Starting a game studio is a dream many people in the industry share. This section will guide you through the essential steps of building the business foundation for your studio and link you to a ton of great resources. From assembling a talented team to obtaining funding and developing effective marketing strategies, we’ll cover everything you need to kickstart your gaming venture.

Build a Team

Creating a successful game studio begins with building a team that shares your vision and passion for game development. Look for individuals with diverse skills, including programmers, artists, designers, writers, and animators. Learn more about Game Development Roles and Responsibilities You Need For Your Project Success from R&D and staff augmentation company Newxel.

Experience is crucial, but also consider working with talented newcomers who bring fresh perspectives and creativity – and check out these DEI Strategies to Improve Your Game Dev Talent Acquisition. Online game development forums such as Unreal and Unity, social media groups, and events like GDC (Game Developers Conference) are excellent places to find like-minded individuals interested in making an indie game. Once you have a great team assembled, Retain Top Gaming Talent With These Tactics.

Create a System of Workflow

An efficient workflow is the backbone of a successful game studio. Define a clear and well-structured workflow that outlines the game development process from start to finish. G2 has a good high level overview of The 7 Stages of Game Development.

Consider the various aspects of development, including concept creation, design, asset production, coding, and quality assurance. For studios working remotely or with hybrid teams, embrace collaboration DevOps and project management tools to streamline communication, track progress, and ensure seamless coordination.

Obtain Funding

Funding is crucial to bringing your game studio’s vision to life. Explore various funding options based on your studio’s needs and the scale of your game project. Some common funding sources include:

  • Crowdfunding: Platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo allow you to raise funds directly from your community and potential players. Engaging campaigns and compelling rewards can drive excitement around your game.
  • Investors: Pitching your game studio to investors who believe in your vision can provide the capital to get your project off the ground. 
  • Grants: Grants typically focus on a particular platform or type of game. Some have an open application period and others are invitation only.
  • Funds: Several companies have special funds designated for aspiring game developers. Sometimes these funds are open to everyone and sometimes they are meant to help underrepresented game developers.

Get inspired to find diverse funding sources with our article showcasing 5 indie game funding success stories.

Find a Publisher

Even if your game has secured funding through crowdfunding or other means, working with a game publisher can still be highly beneficial. For a detailed comparison of your options, see Finding A Publishing Partner Vs Self Publishing – Everything You Need To Know from GameAnalytics. Publishers bring industry experience, established marketing channels, and global distribution networks to successfully promote and launch your game. They can open doors to larger markets and help you navigate the competitive gaming landscape. For a deeper look at what finding a publisher means, see How to navigate the modern world of games publishing at GamesIndustry.biz.

Develop a Marketing Strategy

Creating an outstanding game is only part of the equation – effectively marketing it is equally crucial. Game Developer has a few tips to get you started in their article 3 Simple Game Marketing Tactics For the Marketing-Averse Developer.

In addition to those practical suggestions, you should develop a marketing strategy that encompasses a variety of channels:

  • Social media: Engage with your target audience through social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Share regular updates, behind-the-scenes content, and engage in conversations with potential players. For more expert advice see Solid social media game marketing tips from Riot Games on Game Developer.
  • Industry events: Participate in gaming conventions, conferences, and virtual events to showcase your game to industry professionals, press, and players. Not only can you market your game at these events, but you can also learn more about how to market your game, as showcased in The best business and marketing talks at GDC from Game Developer.
  • Influencer partnerships: Collaborate with influential content creators and streamers to generate buzz and reach a wider audience. For an in depth discussion on How to Implement a Successful Influencer Marketing Campaign in Gaming visit Influencer MarketingHub.
  • Press coverage: Reach out to gaming media outlets, influencers, and journalists to secure coverage and reviews for your game. Uberstrategist highlights What Are the Different Types of PR Outreach (and When to Use Them) on LinkedIn.

How to Start Game Development

From crafting a comprehensive game design document to iterating on your game based on valuable feedback, this section will guide you through the technical aspects of creating a game and choosing your software.

Make a Game Design Document

A game design document (GDD) serves as the blueprint for your game. It outlines the game’s concept, mechanics, story, characters, levels, and more. The GDD acts as a reference document for the development team, ensuring everyone is on the same page throughout the production process.

It also helps potential investors, publishers, and stakeholders understand your vision. Include as many details as possible, but remain open to adjustments as development progresses. Game Developer has a detailed article on How to write a Game Design Document.

Choose a Game Engine

Selecting the right game engine is crucial to bringing your game to life efficiently and effectively. Godot, Unity, and Unreal Engine are some popular game engines to consider. Each engine offers unique features and capabilities, so consider factors like your team’s expertise, the complexity of your game, and the platform you intend to target. Check out GameDev Academy’s list of Best Game Engines and choose an engine that aligns with your project’s requirements and allows you to bring your creative vision to reality.

Select a Version Control System

Version control is essential for maintaining the integrity and organization of your game’s code and assets throughout development. It enables collaborative work, tracks changes, and facilitates rollbacks if necessary. One excellent choice for version control is Perforce Helix Core hosted on Assembla. With seamless integration, easy branching, and merging capabilities, coupled with Assembla’s optimized Perforce instances, development teams can enjoy an efficient, productive and streamlined collaboration. Learn more about Cloud-Based Game Development with Perforce and Using Perforce Cloud to Build a CI/CD Pipeline.

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Establish DevOps Approach

DevOps is a set of tools and practices, combined with an overall culture and philosophy, that is designed to help improve productivity and efficiency by merging and integrating project management, development, and operations teams. DevOps in game development typically takes advantage of cloud storage and computing to improve communication and collaboration among team members. For a more detailed explanation, see Leveraging DevOps for Game Development.

Develop a Prototype

A prototype is a simplified version of your game that showcases its core mechanics and features. Logic Simplified gives an overview of Video Game Prototyping and Its Importance in Game Development. It serves as a proof of concept, allowing you to gather feedback, secure funding, and attract potential players. Focus on demonstrating the unique selling points of your game and gather valuable insights to refine your vision.

Depending on the size of your game, you might also develop a demo, vertical slice, or MVP of your game. On LinkedIn Brave Zebra tackles the question of What’s the difference between Prototype, Demo, Vertical Slice and MVP?

Get Feedback

Before launching your game, seek feedback from playtesters, fellow developers, and industry peers. Objective feedback can help identify flaws, areas of improvement, and potential bugs, but it’s important to identify the right kind of testers. Games User Research acknowledges the challenges in finding playtesters and breaks down the process in detail in their article How to find playtesters

Creating new iterations of your game based on the feedback you get from playtesting is crucial for creating a polished and engaging final product. Game development is an iterative process. Embrace the feedback you receive and be prepared to make changes to enhance gameplay, fix issues, and optimize performance. Constantly improve your game to make it more engaging, balanced, and enjoyable for players.

Launch the Game

Launching your game requires careful planning and consideration. Check out this slideshow on GamesRadar+ for 12 steps to a video game release. Set a release date that aligns with your marketing strategy and player expectations. Address any critical bugs or issues with patches and updates. Additionally, consider post-launch content, such as downloadable content (DLC), to keep players engaged and excited about your game.

Managed Perforce with Assembla

At Assembla, we offer managed Perforce, a comprehensive solution designed to streamline version control for game development. With seamless integration, robust security, and advanced collaboration tools, Assembla is the perfect choice for video game developers looking to optimize their workflow and focus on creating extraordinary games.

Start a Free Trial of Assembla

Embark on your game development journey with Assembla. Start your free trial today and experience the power of streamlined version control and collaboration tools tailored to game development needs.

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Allison Bokone
Allison Bokone
Allison Bokone is an instructor at Miami University in Ohio for the Computer and Information Technology department, specializing in process and DevOps. Prior to teaching, Allison worked at Microsoft for 18 years, first as a Technical Writer, then as a Program Manager and Director at Xbox. In her last role she was a regular contributor to MicrosoftGameDev.com.

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