Professional Services
Order outsourcing

Reality of an Outsourcing Company: Trends, Challenges, & Finding Partners

Marco Testini, Founder of the art outsourcing studio, Kabum, has talked to us about how outsourcing can help in gamedev, what problems can be solved thanks to it, and delved into the current outsourcing trends.

Today, Marco Testini, Digital Artist, Founder, and CTO of art outsourcing studio Kabum, has joined us to talk about outsourcing, its current trends, and challenges that the outsourcing companies face.

Testini shared with us that he had always been fascinated by all facets of art and technology. Initially, he dedicated his artistic exploration to traditional visual arts, showcasing his work in solo and group exhibitions on a national and international scale. However, his focus shifted over time.

"Starting in 2008, I decided to devote myself to the research and development of the interaction between technology, digital art, and interactivity. In 2009, I wrote a thesis on the use of QR-Code in contemporary art and conducted several social experiments.

While continuing to experiment in this area, I simultaneously began to deepen my knowledge in computer graphics, specifically 3D computer graphics. Over the years, I developed expertise in this field, and in 2018, I founded the studio Kabum, with which I am currently involved in the creation of digital content for entertainment, specifically for the film and video game markets."

When discussing outsourcing, we asked Testini to elaborate on the problems these business practices can address, particularly in terms of saving time and money. Testini highlighted the significant advantage of having the assistance of outsourced experts.

"Sometimes, looking for professionals using traditional processes might waste time and money on resources that deal exclusively with that. For example, we have found that recruiting through our community on Discord (currently the largest in the Italian landscape) is a much more agile way that allows us to get to know professionals directly. This allows us to make a pre-selection even before we need to collaborate.

In some cases, it may be necessary and cost-effective; I think it depends very much on the skills of the core team that is developing the project. There are certainly a lot of bureaucratic reasons for companies to internalize development."

While it's hard to directly compare the costs of various stages of game development in-house versus outsourcing at present, Testini mentioned that the processes he prefers to handle internally are the in-engine implementation of all the code and mechanics, as well as animation.

"We've only been doing game development internally for a couple of years, so I wouldn't have all the data needed to confirm what I'm saying. Certainly, the most expensive and time-consuming processes you face during game development are the in-engine implementation of all the code and mechanics, while on the art side, the animation process. I would say that these two aspects, I would prefer to handle internally and not outsource."

Outsourcing can be a valuable resource for small game development teams seeking additional support.

"I believe that outsourcing mainly benefits small teams. Through outsourcing, these teams can achieve quality results faster. Another advantage is the networking benefits that come with multiple teams collaborating, sharing different knowledge, and contaminating each other, which I think is the best way for evolution.

We have a client who specifically asked us for art for their mobile video game, and for it to be done in a super-optimized way and with extreme stylization, we specialize in that, so certainly for them, our contribution was very important in leading them to a significant saving of time and therefore money in terms of research and development."

"If we want to include in outsourcing everything that is not purely art, certainly consulting for sales and porting strategies, I think it is appropriate to have specialized external teams do that. For everything else, I think it depends on the size of the team that is developing the game and how it is structured. In summary, asking for outsourcing help is important to look for specialized teams in specific areas, such as the animation of stylized fantastic creatures or the creation of photorealistic urban environments, etc."

Outsourcing companies face challenges similar to those in any other industry. One such hurdle is gaining the trust of other companies, as mentioned by Testini, along with maintaining high quality, meeting deadlines, and staying within allocated budgets.

"Game development, like any other work in this industry that involves multiple professions, is a team effort. The main problem arises when having to work with artists who think in an individualistic way.

There can be mainly two causes and they are upstream of any work of this kind: not having focused on the right professional and poor communication. Among the advice I would give is to have a good project manager within the team who can get everyone communicating and keep them involved and on the ball at all times. Structuring the work with an agile and functional pipeline is the key to having a consistent workflow that doesn't jam."

The next question that may arise is where we can find clients and vice versa. So, here's what Testini says on that matter. 

"One million dollar question. In our case, we have a well-indexed website, and a good percentage of customers come from there. Following that, I would mention that LinkedIn has offered us effective tools for researching our customers. However, a lot is also done by word of mouth and being present at important trade shows."

During the interview, we also touched upon the factors that can influence decisions regarding partnerships between outsourcing companies and game developers, and if you're wondering what those might be, here's what we've learned.

"The outsourcing company's portfolio in these areas plays a crucial role in the decision-making process. Game developers look for partners with a proven track record of delivering high-quality results within specified timelines. Positive reviews and recommendations from previous clients can boost the credibility of an outsourcing company.

Cost is a critical consideration for game developers when selecting outsourcing partners. They assess the pricing structure and compare it with the quality of services offered. While cost-effectiveness is essential, developers also recognize the value of investing in quality outsourcing services that contribute to the overall success of the game.

Developers prefer outsourcing partners that offer flexibility and scalability to adjust to changing project needs. This includes the ability to ramp up or down resources quickly, depending on project demands.

Another key thing could also be sharing similar values, work ethics, and creative vision to ensure alignment of goals and objectives.

A last but not least aspect that I would like to mention is that of safeguarding the intellectual property of projects. An outsourcing firm that succeeds in ensuring data protection by having robust security measures to safeguard sensitive information may influence the choice of one firm over another."

When asked about the trends defining the outsourcing services industry today, Testini shared that it's definitely the ability to work more easily with teams from all parts of the world, thanks to remote working.

"Indie developers, often lacking the resources and manpower of larger studios, are turning to outsourcing for various aspects of game development. This trend enables them to focus on their core competencies while leveraging external expertise for other tasks.

There is a shift towards increasingly sophisticated and high-quality content, where more and more specific skills are needed. This is something that should not be underestimated and is increasing the demand for outsourced services."

Marco Testini, Digital Artist/ Founder/CTO of Kabum

Interview conducted by 80 Level Research Team

Join discussion

Comments 0

    You might also like

    We need your consent

    We use cookies on this website to make your browsing experience better. By using the site you agree to our use of cookies.Learn more