Keeping creative development staff happy at your company can be a tricky business if not managed right.
Speaking at Apps World Europe earlier this month, 22Cans boss Peter Molyneux said his work in mobile had effectively turned the team into a support industry overnight, responsible for fixing bugs and supplying new content for hungry users.
He went on to say it can be a challenge to bring in bright, creative staff with promises of working on a new IP and then get them to work in a support role post-release, likening it to “architects becoming brick layers”.
Molyneux admitted the situation had caused two people to hand in their notice at 22Cans because they “didn’t want to be the hamster on the wheel”. He suggested the way to keep employees happy was to allow them to work on new IP.
Mobile and browser game developer InnoGames, which employs 350 staff at its Hamburg HQ and just opened another studio in Dusseldorf, has its own methods for keeping staff happy and motivated.
Speaking to Develop, InnoGames product PR Fabio Lo Zito said when it was developing Forge of Empires, the game was built by around 20 staff, and later ramped up to 50 after the title went live.
He said the consistent addition of new content for existing games allows developers to continue expressing their creativity, though the studio also has procedures in place should their role post-release not feel fulfilling enough.
“One of the things we do is see that no person remains in a team for too long,” he said.
“So we have this constant shift of people. When they join they always get in on an existing game first, so they can find their place in the company, learn the ropes a little bit and see the technical background.
“But at some point we want every employee that has been there for a couple of years be involved right from the beginning in an entirely new project, and if they have the potential to do so, be in a lead position.”
InnoGames producer Christoph Schmidt, responsible for the development of one of its latest titles Rising Generals, said it’s important for studios to be open to developers’ needs if they want to work on something new, particularly if they have been working on the same project for a number of years prior to a game’s launch and then also during post-release.
“It’s important for us to be open for our developers, for everybody who’s working there, if they wish to work on something new, that we find out if that’s possible and when it’s possible,” he said.
He added: “If it’s too much time on one thing, it can feel like they need to do something new and creative, because that’s important to them, and we try and take care of that."