Organisational Structures of Companies within the Game Industry
Key Companies and their roles in the Games Industry
Developer’s vs Publishers
There are differences between being a developer and a publisher. Developers make the actual game that users play. They endure the game is working correctly and running smoothly, testing for glitches and making sure the game is up to the standard it should be before release. Publishers are in control of almost everything after the game has been created by the developer team. They present the games that have been made and advertise the game appropriately targeting its audience. Publishers deal with the finance side of creating the game which includes paying the development team to ensure creating the games to the best standards they can. This includes advertising costs which include paying a non-affiliated, third-party company to create teaser trailers to promote their games. The publishers earn about 90% of their money back during sales of the game and they usually receive whatever is left after they pay usage rights, staff and engines. They have to ensure that the game sells well to definitely get back what it has cost them, this is risky since most games do not usually break-even, no matter how many are sold, or just about break even, gaining next-to-no profit, which is why many games are constantly being rejected and publishers will only accept a game if they think it is worth the gamble.
There are four types of developers included in the games industry which all involve different roles they have to follow. Below are the different types of developers and their individual roles in the gaming industry as well as what separates them from each other including advantages and disadvantages of each party.
First Party Developers
A first party developer is a developing company that fully owns both the rights to develop and publish games under their own name as well as own their own console also under their name. Nintendo are a good example of this as they provide both consoles and games in which the games are only available on their individual console.
Advantages of being a first party developer is that doing their own publishing can prove to be successful as there is less rush for games to be released as there are no other companies pushing for release and being a publisher to their own creation can help them push for better standards and this way nothing can be modified or manipulated in order to look better for advertisement and can also be cheaper for the company to publish themselves. First party developers also are able to get back the money they’d spent on creating and publishing without it going to a separate company which gives a more likely chance of breaking even. Another advantage of being a first party developer is that you often have larger budgets due to your company owning the hardware and often the software used to create the game. These larger budgets can often lead to larger and more in-depth game development with a much larger marketing campaign also. However, being a large first party developer can be tiresome and expensive to new companies, they are often inexperienced and do not have the resources required to keep the large scale funding for their products afloat.
Second Party Developers
Second party game developers create and develop games from contracts given to them by console companies. This means that they are funded by the console company and tend to only have affiliation for that console company. An example of a second party developer are Insomniac Games because they only work with Sony with their Ratchet & Clank and Spyro the Dragon franchises.
Third Party Developers
A third party developer is a developing company that is not owned by the console company. The console company are able to make investments yet have no influence on game development or advertisement, an example of a third party developer is Konami.
An independent developer can either be one person or a small group who have developed a game with no financial help from a publishing company. Indie developer games are becoming more and more popular and successful, this is proven with World of Goo and Minecraft.
Advantages of being an indie developer is that they have full control of everything they do and they have no publisher wanting to make modifications, however their games will only get big with word of mouth which can make the games suffer if they aren’t popular and not enough people have seen or played them. It is hard for indie developers to find success because they rely on word of mouth as well as funding from websites like kick-starter and they still only get what people donate and money they have saved in order to create and advertise the game. Finding success can also be hard because once their game is out there, the possibility of it getting copied by someone who has more attention and can lose their idea. An example of an indie developer is Rake in Grass who create mobile, computer and console games for example Rampage Knights and Loot Hunter.
To ensure a game company’s success, the company must have a structure when it comes to their employees. Without this, the company’s departments may be unaware of what it is doing and lack preparation as well as team-work in order to complete an in-development game. This helps to make the making of games less time-consuming and get out their products whilst they are still in demand.
The seven departments in any games company include games design, art and animation, programming, audio, quality assurance, production management and publishing and organisational management. These are incredibly important as they identify roles which help to ensure a successful game.
The games design department brings the in-game world to life and helps to make the idea behind a game become a reality. The games design is in control of the story plots backstory as well as the potential characters’ backstories especially in larger games. Some game designers actually help with the script as it links to the characters or plots backstory. There are different roles in the game design department for example, there would be a lead designer, games designer, scriptwriter, map builder, level editor, object planner, storyboard artist, illustrator and graphic designer.
Lead designers make sure that the rest of the department are doing what they should be and ensuring that they’re on track and doing what they should be. Games designer are in control of creating characters, level design, puzzles and also help out with art and animation. There is also a possibility of helping with coding and testing. Game designers need skills in time management and being able to control smaller groups which makes them important in the department. Scriptwriters write the script for the game. They can sometimes be helped by game designers as game designers need to keep the scriptwriters updated due to them having to know the story so the script can match. Scriptwriters can also be in charge of helping to create characters as well as their personalities through their speech and movements which are controlled in the script. Script writers have to research the different personality types that match with the different characters which could include listening to conversations from people who are similar to make sure the script is as accurate as possible. Most scriptwriters have their own genres which they’re best at which means they need to be the same genre as the game. Map builders help to build the maps of the games and any individual places that the character may need to go. This can be difficult as they will have to work together with the level editors and game designers in order to make maps of individual levels that match what has been created. Level editors take what a level designer has done and modifies it, if necessary, in order to make sure that the levels which have been created are suitable for the game and do not lack vital pieces or detail. Storyboard Artists are necessary after the script has been formed and then they use that to create the storyboard to give an overview of what is going to happen during the game in which the game can then be evaluated and anything that needs to be modified can be without risking costs. Illustrators design settings, objects and characters in video games. They work alongside the designers and help to create visuals for what the designers have designed and check it over and then are responsible in turning it from a sketch into an actual character, item, weapon or setting. Graphics Designers create basic concept art and design digital assets for their products. These are used in promotional art-work and often special edition of games as an add-on.
The programming department are the ones that help the game to actually come alive and be accessible to play. In the programming department there includes roles of a lead programmer, software engineer, A.I. programmer, action scripter, information architect and engine programmer. The lead programmer has ultimate control of programming the game and uses help from the other roles included in the department. Software engineers help to test the coding as well as ensure that the programming is running smoothly and works throughout. A.I. programmers are in control of the NPC’s and their reactions and what they do. This allows them to work closely with the designers as they will be creating the characters. Action scripters write the action in the script and write in where there will be action in the game. Information architect make the websites easy to use and use data to make information more applicable for their audience so for the games websites.
Art & Animation
The art and animation team are in control of animating and helping the characters come to life. In the animation department there is a creative manager, art director, lead artist, concept artist, animator and 3D modeller. The creative manager is in control of anything creative in the department. The creative management can also go under copywriter, art director and lead designer. The art director is in charge of the images in promotions such as magazines, they are in control of what goes out to the public and what doesn’t as well as product packaging and the layout. The lead artist is responsible for the overall look of the game whereas the concept artist is in control of the first brief sketches of the games, sketches including character, set and items development. The animator creates the movements of the sketches or finished designs that the concept artist creates and makes the slow frames move faster to make them look realistic. The 3D modeller helps to make these characters look 3D and the object and settings around them.
The audio is important as the music can give feel to the game as well as making it more appealing to play. The audio department includes musicians, sound effects designer, composer and audio engineer. The musicians help to create the music for the playlist using a musical instrument or in some cases, vocals. The sound effects designer is in control of making the sound effects that are included in the game and timing them to make them sound realistic. The composer who writes the music for the actual game. The audio engineer records and manipulates the sound effects and audio for the games to make them match the gameplay.
Quality assurance ensure that the game is running smoothly and catches up with any bugs or glitches in the game and hopes to get rid of them. In the department, there is the QA manager, lead tester, quality assurance. The QA manager ensures that the game meets the specifications and that it runs smoothly. Lead tester monitors all bugs and glitches tests and ensures that the developers get back what they need to improve. Quality assurance helps to prevent malfunction, bugs and glitches in the game and helps with customer services when these things do go wrong.
Production management and publishing
The production management and publishing is the top of the departments where they all the other departments report to. These include the head of development, the executive, the creative director, the account director, licensing manager and production scheduler. The head of development is in control of all the development that is being made and ensures it is all going smoothly and watches over everything that is being done. The executive helps to run the business side of the company whilst the account director deals with marketing and the finance side and ensure promotions go smoothly and all relationships with clients are going well for example Sony would have an account director which would have had contact with Insomniac Games to keep track of all the games. Licensing manager ensures that the game is copyrighted and licensed properly especially licensing of products to third parties.
You will need to explain the organisational structures of the companies within the games industry. Start by explaining what the key companies involved in the sector are, explain what their role is and highlight examples of these forms of companies. You should also explain how the companies generate their income and what their relationship is to one another and how this works. The next section should move on to what departments are within these companies. Within this section you should be highlighting the job roles in these departments and providing a detailed explanation of the role, as well as the working conditions, working hours, average salary and codes of practise.
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