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Quality vs. Quantity: A Novel Approach To Game Development

Corey Fraser
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Jul 4
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Here is the reality: all employees – along with the value they offer a company – are unique.

This is especially true for people in the software and games development industry. Different developers, artists, programmers and designers all have unique skillsets and specialities.

The degree to which a development studio learns to utilise the different talents of their people synergistically will help define their success.

Quality vs. Quantity

Here are two observations:

1. Bringing together these differing skillsets in a cohesive manner can be difficult, especially as the size of the team grows.

2. Effort doesn’t necessarily compound – while ten developers can theoretically write ten times the amount of code as a lone developer, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Indeed, size is not the most important factor – eventually, the point will be reached where, as quantity increases, quality will suffer.

Every manager is aware of this inflection point. after reaching a particular headcount, actual team performance will begin to decrease.

A Success Story   

Here’s a recent example of the above principle in practice, in our own studio.

Following an internal audit and assessment of one of our partner studios – along with their team and processes – we decided to replace a multidisciplinary team of seven senior developers with a smaller, more focussed collective.

The first team had been developing a project for two years and had continually struggled to deliver due to unscalable and unpredictable code.

The team in question even restarted the project a few times, but with no success.

Ultimately, that team had simply reached its inflection point, where quality had begun to suffer and a cohesive approach was no longer being maintained.

While the developers were able to produce an incredible amount of code, the quality of their work was not meeting expectations. Management had invested considerable funds into development and quality assurance, yet the team had ultimately failed to deliver.

Then a new team was brought on board.

With new eyes and a fresh approach, this smaller, more focussed group – with a long history of working together collaboratively – was able to fully rebuild the project from the ground up.

Ultimately, the final product was released in just three months, with perfect scalability and few if any bugs present.

Remarkably, this team consisted of just three people. 

Lessons Learned

woman and man sitting in front of monitor

As it turns out, each developer in the first team was on a salary of over USD 120k, which equated to USD 860k of wasted spend over 12 months. This doesn’t factor in other resources, such as desk costs, management costs, rental costs etc.

When the second team was brought in to take over, they were enjoying salaries in the range of $180-220k per year, considerably higher than the original team.

However, given this team consisted of just three members, the cumulative cost to employ them would have equated to $600k per year.

Remember, of course, that the second team completed the project in just three months, so the total cost of development was just $150k.

Summing Up

Put into perspective, the first team in the example above burnt through almost 20(!) times more money with zero results, while the second team was cheaper, more efficient and considerably more productive.

Despite this lesson, too many leaders in our industry will still try to implement monetary incentives, overtime, changes to team culture and any number of other attempted improvements to the way a team functions.

Yet they will fail to understand when their team has simply reached its inflection point – where quantity has reached a tipping point and quality can no longer be allowed to survive.

Are you a developer or leader of a team within the game and software development industry?

Concerned your team is not achieving its fullest potential? 

We’d love for you to get in touch!

DataSakura offers a full suite of full game development, co-development and quality assurance services, with short-term, long-term and flexible arrangement.

We can tailor our resources to your team’s budget, assets and time constraints.

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