Sent on May 14th 2021.
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It’s Joakim here. Greetings from Korpilahti! I’m visiting our summer cabin for the first time this year and the outdoors in the countryside is so awesome.
I started going through the top content that was consumed on EGD during Q1 of 2021. Here’s the top 10.
- The merge genre has been heating up. Metacore just announced a $180m credit line from Supercell. Here’s how you’d build a merge game in 8 weeks with a small team 😃
- Supercell doesn’t greenlight game projects—they greenlight game teams.
- This is what a perfect game studio pitch deck could look like.
- Building a new game studio? Start with mapping out your company culture
- Review of Sophie Vo’s masterclass: “Hiring with a Vision”
- Interview with Phil Sanderson from Griffin Gaming Partners
- Most downloaded content on EGD: Advanced Retention Metrics in Free-To-Play
- Preparing for soft launch? Here’s how you map out your scenarios for soft launch
- Interview with Hakan Ulvan, Bigger Games (ex-Peak Games team)
- Finally, this is how to structure a management team in gaming
There’s more content coming every week. Looking forward to sharing interesting stuff more over the summer. ☀️
Now, onto the news.
🎙 Salla Niemelä, Futureplay
In this week’s podcast episode, I’m talking with Salla Niemelä, who is responsible for Employee Experience at FuturePlay, a mobile game studio in Helsinki. With Salla, we talk about how game studios approach the employee and employer relationship, throughout the full lifecycle of the employment, from hiring to working and developing the relationship and finally to an exit.
Here are my highlights from the discussion with Salla.
In the Netflix book No Rules Rules, there’s a concept there called high talent density, where you only retain people who are great and highly talented. What are ways to achieve high talent density besides laying off the poor performers?
The employer has a huge responsibility on this. Setting the expectations so that people know what is expected of them. And what is the direction of the company. Is it communicated regularly, so that people know what to focus on? I think things like this, and that the company’s strategy and getting feedback is clear. If you want quick solutions, I think firing and hiring new ones is a one way to go, but a very short sighted way.
If you need to fire someone, what is the best way to approach firing?
Bringing the performance or behavior issues up immediately with the person as they arise, I think it’s really, really important in any situation. An open discussion is always the way to go. Whatever happens, you need to be making it as smooth as possible and helping the person with everything, and making sure that they don’t lose their face.
Listen to the full episode by going here.
🗓 Daily Events in Free-to-play Games
This is my first article in a series where I cover my favorite mobile game of all time, Marvel: Contest of Champions (MCOC). In this first article, I’m talking about the ingenious, and seldomly copied Daily Quest system, which is MCOC’s equivalent for daily events.
The system provides unprecedented player autonomy and long-term goal setting. “Besides this variability, player autonomy and enjoyment from making interesting choices. The player will feel that they can now do the Easy and the Medium ones, and once they get a bit stronger, perhaps on a few months, they will be able to start doing the Hard ones. Who knows, in a few years, they could play the Expert mode already.”
In this article, I give examples on how game developers can utilize the Daily Quest system for their game to create similar benefits for the betterment of player engagement and retention.
- How to apply to a game with the Golf Clash (or Clash Royale) meta?
- A Merge Mansion meta?
- A Brawl Stars meta?
You can read the full article by going here.
📕 The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
I recently sat down with Miska Katkoff and Sophie Vo to talk about a book that I really enjoyed and often recommend called The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick M. Lencioni. It’s a management fable about a team’s struggles to work as a team, and how they used Lencioni’s five behaviors model to become an exceptional and effective team.
Here is the pyramid of the Five Dysfunctions of a Team. You start from trust, since none of the above will happen if you don’t eliminate dysfunctions that create the lack of trust, lack of conflict, etc.
With Sophie and Miska, we wanted to relate the message of the book to how to run games companies. Here are some highlights from our discussion.
Investors invest in teams, so why don’t studios invest in teams?
Miska brought up an interesting angle. The early-stage VCs always bet their money on teams, and they view that as the only guarantee that something would come out of the company.
Sophie talked about flywheel of investing in teams. That could look something like this: you harness a growth mindset in the team, then you continually build trust and facilitate healthy conflict, which then leads to more commitment to tasks, even hard ones, with the needed peer-to-peer accountability. All this leads to results. And the flywheel keeps on turning, the growth mindsets, questions your existing beliefs, and you want to seek new information, you continue building trust. And the flywheel keeps on turning.
Joakim: “[You get unhealthy conflict] if people are approaching the conflict from a place where they’re not explaining the reasoning behind their opinions. They’re sort of keeping that to themselves. So I think reasoning is always like a superpower that everybody should also develop when they’re entering healthy conflict.”
Sophie: “[Unhealthy conflict comes up when] you have people trying to be right in the discussion or proving a point, instead of focusing on the problem we’re trying to solve here as a group. I talk about healthy conflict in my team handbook, with I share in my Masterclass. There we have listed the desired ways to approach conflict.”
Milestones for the team
Sophie: “When you are not clear about your goals and individual goals will actually take priority in the collective goals.”
Miska brings up an important topic: “In Finnish studios, over communication has traditionally been very poor. Because they culturally find conversation unimportant. It’s more important to do things than to talk about things. As the organization grows, it’s very important to keep on emphasizing where we’re heading. And if you feel that you’ve said it five times, ten times, it doesn’t matter. People forget so they need to be reminded.”
Content mentioned in this episode.
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
- Building teams for the long term: Antifragile teams (my review on Sophie’s MasterClass)
Listen to the full episode by going here.
📃 Articles worth reading
+ What Is an Entertainment Company in 2021 and Why Does the Answer Matter? — “It should be clear at this point that I think the most important thing in entertainment is the ability to build love. Anyone can tell a story. Fewer, but still many, can tell a story well. And when stories are told, they typically generate revenue. However, profits, and especially great profits, come from love.”
+ Apple robbed the mob’s bank — “Apple has brazenly, in broad daylight, stormed into the Bank of Facebook, looted its most precious resource, and, camouflaged under the noble cause of giving privacy controls to the consumer, fled the scene. And Facebook is left with little recourse. The company attempted to sway consumer sentiment to its side through an enormously wide-reaching PR campaign, but its efforts there were hobbled by the narrow messaging that was available to it. Facebook couldn’t explain in detail why ATT will harm consumers because, in doing so, it would need to reveal just how it personalizes ads — through observing conversions on third-party websites and apps.”
+ Startups Get Bigger, Faster, Farther with “Advisor/Founder Fit” — “Most founders know that they need or will benefit from having advisors, even if only from watching “The Social Network.” Having navigated the startup landscape previously, Sean Parker helped Mark Zuckerberg grow Facebook into the billion-dollar company it’s become today. And it’s not just in the movies. Some data suggests that startups with advisors are able to raise 7x more money and have 3.5x better user growth.”
💬 Quote that I’ve been thinking about
”Success is a lousy teacher. It makes smart people think they can’t lose.” — Bill Gates
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Take care everybody! See you next week!