How do you choose the right serious game studio?

Are you considering having a serious game developed by a game studio? Then you want to be sure that the development process of your game is in good hands. Especially when you don’t know all the ins and outs of serious games yourself, it can be quite difficult to choose the right (and best) serious game studio. In this article, we want to give you some criteria you can use to choose the right serious game studio.

This article is a continuation of another blog in which we talked about what knowledge is needed to develop a serious game. Once you know what expertise is needed for a serious game project, you can make a good assessment of whether a serious game studio can make your assignment a success.

No time to read that? In this article, under the section ‘Team’, we will give another summary of this.

Let’s get started! The six criteria are:

  • Portfolio
  • Method of working
  • Price and Offer
  • Team
  • Network
  • Performance and reputation

Portfolio: what has the serious game studio made?

The first criterion to pay attention to is the portfolio of a serious game studio. The portfolio already gives a lot of insight into the company’s experience. To make a good analysis of the portfolio of a serious game development studio you can look at:

  • Quantity: how many serious games has the company already made? A studio that has developed 10 to 20 successful serious game projects is quite experienced. This does not necessarily mean that they can deliver on the solution you are looking for, but you can assume that they have their processes in order, are communicatively strong, and less likely to make mistakes.
  • Variety: quantity does not say everything. What types of games have they developed and for what audiences? If Virtual Reality is an important part of your serious game project, and the studio has no experience with it, it might not be the perfect match. Finally, look at the complexity of projects in the portfolio.
  • Results: serious games are often used to change behavior, transfer knowledge or teach skills. Every project starts with an objective and ends with certain results. A good serious game studio (re)evaluate the results and keep improving the game until the objective has been reached. Therefore, it is wise to check if their results are also shared in the game portfolio.

Method of working: how do they guarantee quality?

The working method of a serious game studio says quite a lot about the company.  There are a number of questions you can ask a studio:

  • What development process do you use? Agile (SCRUM) or waterfall?
  • How is quality ensured in the development process?
  • How will you communicate with me, the client?
  • How long will the development process take?

 

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Price and offer: what will it cost and what will you get?

This is always a tricky point: what does a serious game cost? Of course, this always depends on your wishes and requirements. The more complex a serious game needs to be, the more expensive it becomes.

In terms of price we can give you two tips:

  1. Ask for quotations from different serious game studios
  2. Look at what you get for the price

We do have to say that it is not easy to put a price tag on a serious game project in advance. This has to do with the complexity of games, but sometimes also with the working method of a serious game studio. Grendel Games, for instance, works from the SCRUM method with sprints. This means that with each sprint you and the client look at what will add the most value for their customer, product, or challenge. Therefore, invoicing is done per sprint.

Despite that, it is good to look at the services that a serious game studio can offer. Besides developing the serious game, can they also support the marketing and distribution of the game? Think of developing a website, corporate identity, or offering help when the target group plays the game for the first time.

Team: what expertise does the team have?

In this article, we have already given an overview of all the expertise needed for the development of a serious game. First, you can look at the technical knowledge within the game studio. Besides gameplay programmers, are there also technical people who have a lot of experience with game engines like Unity?

Other experts needed on the development team are the game artist and game designer. They deal with the development of the game story and artwork. Finally, see if there is a product owner on the team who ensures good communication with the client and monitors the product quality during the development process.

Network: what valuable partners does the company have?

Often a serious game studio works together with partners. It is good to ask which partners these are and look at their reputation. Suppose you want to have a serious game developed to save water, the studio should have partners from the relevant domain.

Other important partners could be independent researchers who collect data and measure the results, or for example a marketing agency that takes care of marketing and communication.

Performance and reputation: what has the serious game studio achieved?

The last part: what do customers say, and what does their award cabinet look like?  This criterion gives you an idea of the reputation and achievements of a serious game studio:

  • What do customer reviews say about the company?
  • Has the studio won any awards?
  • Has the game studio been in the media? And in what ways?
  • What’s the company’s history like?

tim-laning

That’s it! Hopefully, you now have some tools to choose the right serious game studio and make your serious game project a success! Still, have some questions or want to know more about serious games? Please feel free to contact Tim Laning:

 

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