How to Start a Video Game Company
By Dan Chruscinski
Updated September 22, 2017
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Being a gamer can spark an interest in game design. This can lead to a career in game development, but for those who want to aim higher, there is starting a video game company. Creating a gaming company is similar to starting any business, there is a great deal of work involved, from hiring staff to obtaining licenses for creating a product. For those who choose to enter into this field, this guide will outline the process.
Determine the games your company is going to develop. Developing for consoles requires a different set of hardware than developing strictly for PC gaming. Spend time researching development programs such as Adobe Photoshop for creating 2D art and Blender for building 3D models. Know that games are created using the C++ programming language, which should be taken into account when obtaining tools.
Recruit a team for your game development company. You will need people of varying skill sets--this goes beyond coders and artists. You may need to hire writers, designers, as well as staff familiar with finances to handle the business side of the company. When interviewing candidates and hiring staff, remember that you're running a business and need to be honest about your goals as well as your expectations of the team.
Rent a small set of offices or an area where everyone can work in one location. You will need a sense of community to facilitate the amount of communication necessary to successfully produce your games. Take into account the space needed for servers as well as meeting rooms for clients and investors along with adequate space for expansion.
Create a game design document before starting work on your first project. This will act as the bible for any game you are going to develop. Included in this document will be every choice made in development, along with the programming tools used, the estimated time and cost of development and the tasks each employee has been assigned and completed. This will help explain your project to outside parties as well as avoid any issues should your team gain or lose members.
Build a demo of the game. You will use this demo to obtain funding from investors as well as part of your portfolio when interacting with publishers and console developers. This will be used in conjunction with your design document and show off what your company is capable of achieving.
Use your demo to bring investors into your company. You will need this funding to pay wages, obtain equipment and keep your company moving forward. List your outgoing costs so you know how much capital you'll need at startup when seeking aid in covering these costs. This may be in the form of small business loans from a financial institution.
Obtain development kits for console development. You will need these kits if you plan on creating games for current generation consoles such as the Wii or PlayStation 3. Seek out the communities these manufactures have created for developers and inquire about independent developing programs.
Create a game for digital distribution. Smaller game companies may not have the funding to release their product at retail outlets, but through console services such as Xbox Live Arcade and Nintendo WiiWare, independent game companies are able to distribute their games digitally.
Spread the word about your game and company. Attend game developer festivals, distribute demos and develop a relationship with bloggers and forum communities. You can also hire a marketing specialist to develop a strategy for your company. The key is to build hype for your game before release and not after it hits the market.
PC game development can be a less expensive route, requiring less additional hardware. Choose the platform you feel most comfortable developing on, knowing the advantages and limits of each.
Dan Chruscinski has written pieces for both business and entertainment venues. His work has appeared in "Screen Magazine" as well as websites such as Starpulse.com. Chruscinski graduated in 2006 with a degree in English literature from Illinois State University.