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Splash Damage: Ideas are cheap; therefore get top talent to execute excellently

By on June 24, 2009
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Enemy Territory Quake Wars

Paul Wedgewood is delivering the keynote at the GameHorizon Conference in Gateshead.

Splash Damage has achieved huge success with Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, and Paul has an interesting take on how to be a successful games developer.

1. Be AAA in what you do

Ideas are cheap. There are probably more ideas than you can possibly execute in a lifetime. But execution is everything. And execution includes polish. Paul argues this leads to better relationships with publishers and hence better deals. He gave specific examples: If your copyright notice says 2008 in mid-2009, you are not paying attention to detail. So be AAA in everything a publisher will see, and they will trust you to get everything right elsewhere.

2. Outsource all distractions

Paul started out reviewing employment contracts, managing finances, and a whole bunch of other distractions. He has now decided to delegate everything he possibly can. However, I think he is being a little disingenuous: he clearly understands finance, the important issues in employment, clauses in publisher contracts. So I am sure that he is right that delegation is key; but I caution that delegation must not mean abdication of responsibility, or else you will fail

3. Make more than you spend

Pretty simple really, but Paul is focused on cashflow not profit and loss or balance sheet. (A bit like Sir Philip Green, perhaps the greatest retailer of his generation).

4. Invest everything you can in the team

The team is everything. Pay high salaries. Hold good parties. Have good facilities. Recruit people who are better than you. I’ll repeat that: recruit people who are better than you. Splash Damage’s focus is to hire top people wherever they can. By having the best team, you will make the best game; by making the best game, publishers will want to hire you; if publishers want to hire you, you’ll make lots of money.

A lot of the talk was disingenuous, but at heart, it was about having a passion for your project, getting the best people, and delegating what you don’t need to do. But above all, take pride in what you do, give it polish and always be AAA in everything you do.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com