The gaming industry has boomed since COVID, and studios are busier than ever developing new games. The industry grew by 23% over the course of 2020, and is expected to continue growing at an annual compound rate of 11% per year through 2024.

To keep up with the demand for new games, both independent and larger gaming studios are turning towards game development outsourcing firms to support and expedite their processes. As of 2008, 86% of companies relied on outsourced firms for at least some elements of their game development process.

Outsourcing game development can help your game studio manage costs and timelines, and provide on-tap access to specialized teams. Let's take a deeper look at how your company can partner with an outsourced game development firm, and what the benefits are.

Key benefits for outsourcing game development

Choosing to work with an external game development agency can benefit your brand in a number of ways, including:

Access to specialized expertise at a lower price

Your firm may have some of the in-house resources it needs to complete a project, but might lack access to Unity coders, for instance. Rather than hire specialized programmers based out of U.S. tech hubs at high salaries, you can partner with a development agency, able to deliver equal quality with lower overhead.

The ability to scale up or down quickly

Your team may simply not have the bandwidth to complete the project within your target timeframe. By partnering with an external agency, you can gain access to programmers, designers, QA specialists, and more. They can collaborate with your team as much or as little as you'd like, scaling up to provide whatever support you require to get the job done, and then reducing your labor costs once the project is complete and you no longer need specialized resources.

A faster time frame

By adding resources to your team, you can not only save costs compared to hiring internally, but complete your project more quickly. When partnering with an agency, you can work with them to set a target timeframe for launch, and feel confident that they’ll be able to deliver on your expectations.

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Types of outsourcing models

When outsourcing game development, how much you choose to outsource will depend on where you are in the production process and what your needs and resources are. Outsourcing firms can take an idea right from the concept and storyboarding stage, or they can collaborate with internal teams to work on the code base, develop art assets, design sound, oversee QA, or other elements.

Some common development models include:

Full-cycle development

In this case, your team will provide a concept, storyboard, and pre-production elements to your external team, and they'll handle all the programming, art design, sound design, QA, and other elements, taking you all the way through to the product release and subsequent updates. This model is the most expensive, but can be a good option for companies that are developing a game as a supplement to their core business and lack the in-house resources to manage the game development process.

Specialized programming languages

Game development often makes use of one of two core programming languages, Unity/C# and Unreal/C++. By choosing a game design outsourcing firm with expertise in these programming languages, you can supplement your in-house team and have confidence that the combined team will be able to deliver on your technology needs.

Art outsourcing

Once the programming is complete, stock objects will need to be replaced with vivid, original graphic elements — and each game's universe typically contains thousands of different art assets, including characters, scenery, tools, weapons, prizes, and many other types of graphics. Your team can provide an outsourced development firm with a list of asset needs and a brand style guide, and let them handle all of the custom illustrations. This may be a good fit if your in-house team has strong programming skills, but not as much bandwidth or expertise on the art direction side.

VR simulations

Virtual reality technology is now mainstream in gaming, and 3D games require an intense amount of specialized graphic assets. An outsourced partner that specializes in 3D graphics and rendering can help you complete this process.

Co-development

Your team may want to collaborate in-depth with an outsourced development firm, building a co-development workflow plan that includes specialists from each team. When you have the technical expertise to provide oversight, but need more resources to support your project, this can be a great option.

Now that we've explored some of the game development outsourcing models to consider, let's look at how and when to choose an outsourced agency.

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How to evaluate a game development outsourcing firm

When considering a variety of agencies, it's important to both look at past work, and ensure that the team feels like the right fit for you.

Start out by exploring some of the games that the team has played a role in designing. When you dig into their work history, ask them:

  • What specific role(s) did they play in the game development process?
  • What was the budget and time frame associated with the project? Did they meet expectations in delivering the specs in the budget and time frame expected?
  • If there were roadblocks, what were they and how were they resolved?

You should also look at third-party testimonials or get feedback directly from other clients they've worked with to understand what the work experience was like.

Beyond knowing what their core capabilities are, it's important to get an idea of their process and communication. Will they work with you as a partner, providing transparent updates throughout the process and showing their work at various stages of the process? It's important to get a sense of their development methodology and understand how they communicate with you through the entire process to make sure that you're confident in the workflow and how they make decisions or decide when to check in with your team.

For companies of any size, whether or not game design is your primary service, partnering with an external game development agency can be an ideal way to bring on the specialized talent you need quickly, and launch quickly. Contact iTechArt for a free consultation to learn how we can help you with your game development needs.