What could you, an online retailer, learn from the gaming industry?

Guest writer Written by Guest writer - Aug 17, 2016

The gaming industry has always been one of the forerunners in selling digital products. From the beginning, games have been available in the app stores of smartphones and tablets.

In recent years, the industry has not only become a serious business area, but one of the fastest growing in Finland. Check out the latest figures here.

“Little boys" living off pizza and coke and chasing their dreams became men overnight when companies in Finland became worth millions. The latest, Supercell, has had the fastest growth in the world and has turned this Finnish industry with long traditions into a credible business.

But why has the gaming industry in particular become so profitable? And what should you learn from it? In this post, I will share this in more detail with you.

The gaming industry does things without past burdens

The gaming industry has a lot to offer you and your company, as a new industry it’s built things differently from more traditional industries like the lumber industry. The following five things work really well in the gaming industry:

1. An open culture between companies and experts

One particular characteristic of the gaming industry is transparency between companies and experts. People share their knowledge at various events. Veterans are eager to share their expertise with those less experienced. Gaming events are perfect opportunities to pitch your new game and idea even to the most prominent gaming experts.

This transparency comes from the common understanding that in an international field, the biggest competitor will be a foreign company, not a colleague from your hometown.

This openness between companies has led to success for several companies.

2. Human-centered company

Another special characteristic of the industry is that if a game company was a factory, at its center wouldn’t be a machine maintained by people, but the opposite. The machine of a game company are the individuals themselves. These people have a strong drive and a passion for the industry.

All successful game companies are excellent examples of human-centered companies who know how to lead creative people. The entire company has been built and geared to support the work of creative people.

Cooperation between colleagues is also central to the industry, as game projects always require a wide range of skills.

You too should focus on keeping your company’s experts and partners at the center of your activities. Create an environment where people are as comfortable as possible. It will eventually produce the best results.

3. Very scalable products

The gaming industry is one of the first industries to utilize digital products. Compared to physical products, growth with digital products (i.e. games) is much easier. After the digital product has been made, there’s no longer generates manufacturing or storage costs.

Of course, further development, marketing and management are needed, but in a much smaller scale than with physical products. You too should try to develop easily scalable products and services. Digital products are a good solution.

4. Strong customer (= player) orientation

As the term indicates, in the gaming industry there are players, not customers. All game development begins with thoughts about what types of games players want and what would inspire them. From the very first idea, the game will be boldly presented to potential players.

Development continues based on player feedback. Completed games have very strong and committed player communities with a genuine interest in developing the game itself. These communities don’t flourish unless the game company is genuinely interested in serving the players in the best possible way: by making good games.

5. Agile development - applies to you too

The gaming industry is customer oriented due to having one of the most modern product development models. If there is an industry that uses methods like "LEAN" or "agile development", it's the gaming industry. 

Each well-made game is introduced to players stage by stage and modified based on feedback. The pattern of game development is this:

Idea - Concept - Prototype - Alpha version - Beta version - Publication - Further development

The product development process can take from six months to several years depending on the scope of the game. As the name suggests, the idea stage is the introduction of an idea. In the conceptualization stage, visual graphics are added so it’s possible to envision what the game will be like. In the prototype stage, there are some very small playable components.

The Alpha version will already be close to a completed game, but some essential parts are still missing. At this stage, the game’s core is becoming clear, even if some features will still change. Even a released version isn’t often complete, as a large player community will always discover bugs in the game. As the saying goes in the gaming industry, "perfect code doesn’t exist.”

You too should try to develop your products and services gradually like the gaming industry, because it will produce genuinely customer friendly products and save time and money. We often become blind to our own actions.

Youth and tough competition can sometimes be good

The absolute strength of the gaming industry is its short history. It has had no obligations or traditions, and has been able to directly create its own practices. International competition has also forced companies to think big.

All of these factors have polished Finland into one of the world’s most valuable diamonds in terms of the entertainment industry and digital online stores: gaming.

I recommend visiting various gaming events, because as I said before, the gaming industry is welcoming to people who wish to learn new things.

Jari JunkkariAuthor

Jari Junkkari
Customer relationship manager, Coach

The author is a corporate coach who has coached and supported many new gaming companies since 2012. Even now he’s helping game companies, actively follows the industry and is of course a gamer himself.

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