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Starting Your Own Video Game Company

Posted on the 07 March 2016 by Geekasms @geekasms
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Starting Your Own Video Game Company

Starting Your Own Video Game Company

Image from Flickr

Video games are an extraordinarily lucrative industry. It makes billions every year, and has for some time been making more money than the film industry. In 2013, Grand Theft Auto V made $800 million in its first 24 hours of release. Not even the latest Star Wars film could touch that figure on its opening weekend.

So, naturally, a lot of people want to get involved. But, as with the film industry, there are thousands of new games released every year that really don’t do that well at all. But if you get everything right, you can certainly get a profitable business underway. Here are the key ingredients.


Do you have a game concept yet? Many people want to start a video game company but don’t have a game concept yet. This isn’t actually a requirement, though having a project to start off with definitely gives you strong direction.

You can conduct research to find out what gamers are looking for in new releases. Read reviews to see what common positives and negatives are. Metacritic will let you track the most critically-acclaimed releases. High Metacritic scores don’t always translate to big commercial success. Call of Duty: Black Ops II made $500 million in its first 24 hours, but its Metacritic score wasn’t the highest of the year. The most critically acclaimed game of last year, Undertale, sold 500,000 copies with a Metacritic score of 92. There does seem to be a correlation between critical and commercial success, but it is definitely imperfect.

Find out what makes a game good and profitable and see if you can work them into your game.

Starting Your Own Video Game Company

Image from Flickr

Marketing and finance

Video game companies have a somewhat unique business model. It requires a very big upfront investment of money and labor before you can even begin marketing your game to the public. You may be thinking “but what about all those games that have been funded on Kickstarter“? The fact is that even those games have gone past the initial concept stage. Money and labor have already been poured into the product that the creators want you to invest in.

So you need to make sure you have enough initial financing. Building your first game takes more money and time than you may think. You can’t just quit your day job and begin developing with a small team! You need to have money coming in somewhere. Even if this money comes in from your day jobs, with everyone working on the game in their spare time. (If you can call that “spare time”!)

One thing to look into is getting someone who deals with business, marketing and finance management. Maybe that person would be you! They will be the one who talks to potential investors, or other game companies who want to outsource development work.

Starting Your Own Video Game Company

Image from Pixabay


Where are you going to work? Several people have made games in their bedroom, or with several people collaborating remotely. It depends what kind of money you have to start with. Having a small office where you could all work would obviously be ideal, but if you don’t have a lot of starting capital, then it may not be a wise investment. It’s still worth considering a shared environment, though. Try to get some of the developers to work together in the same place. If you have an apartment, maybe you’d be willing to let people come round to work for a few hours? This makes collaboration much easier.


Wherever you’re working, you need to make sure the equipment you’re using is up to the task. You’re going to be pumping a lot of electricity around whatever property you’re using; make sure you have safe adapters. The computers you use need to be extremely fast. Making video games takes a lot of processing and graphical power. Either ensure the ones you’re using are up-to-date or get some new ones. Ensuring the computers you’re using are fit for purpose is one of the reasons initial starting costs can be very expensive. However, if you have a bunch of people who are interested in making games, then it’s very likely that they already have powerful computers.

Starting Your Own Video Game Company

Image from Flickr

There are a bunch of things you can do to save money. A lot of game creation software is free. One of the most powerful is Unity. Unity is a very powerful game development platform that can come free or in a paid ‘pro’ edition. It was used to create the best selling games Angry Birds 2, Kentucky Route Zero, and Gone Home. You should also ensure you have good portable storage options. USB memory sticks are an excellent investment. Game projects take up a lot of room, and you don’t want to rely on email for sending files. You can get 100 32GB here. You’ll also need some of whatever console or device you’re developing the game for. If you’re making mobile games, for instance, you should have test devices for those games. Don’t just rely on your personal devices!

The employees

There are very successful games out there that were only made by one or two people. Undertale was made by just one person; Super Meat Boy had just a designer, a programmer, and an artist. But if you’re looking to start a company, then it’s unlikely that less than five people are going to cut it. If you want to design and program the first game yourself, then you’re going to need someone to deal with the administration of the company. (Which may mean relinquishing your status as the boss!)

Starting Your Own Video Game Company

Image from Flickr

You’ll also need someone to deal with the art assets, which is a more time-consuming process than you may think! It is possible to outsource art production; this is something that even major game companies do. You’ll also need someone who can deal exclusively with the marketing and finance stuff we outlined earlier in the article. And don’t forget about quality assurance! That’s the fancy term for ‘video game tester’. While it’s true that anyone can play the game and find faults, you should aim to hire experienced testers. There is a certain skill and nuance to video game testing that people often overlook when hiring.

Video game development is an exciting world, but one whose difficulty many overlook. Be prepared!

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