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Rampant Games - Guest Post: Lessons from Working at BioWare

by Dhruin, 2011-04-26 22:37:42

While Jay Barnson is away, Tales of the Rampant Coyote has a guest post from ex-BioWarian (now indie developer), Dan Fedor. Dan writes Lessons I Learned While Working at BioWare and it's an interesting read:

I also got to see one other game ideation process from a slightly different angle: I pitched a game to BioWare. It was a small game. Less than a man-year of total work. I figured I was still fairly newbish, so smaller would be a safer bet. But, as it turned out…

The thing about studios is, they’re expensive to run. And more to the point, employees are expensive to keep. Employees need salaries, sure. But they also need benefits. And equipment. And space to work in. And support staff. This all adds up, unsurprisingly. A useful “napkin math” figure I learned while in the industry is that your average employee costs twice their salary over a year. Think about that, for a moment. Let’s say your average employee is making $50k per year. That probably means you cost your employer $100k annually. That’s over $8k per month!

So when it came to pitching my small game idea, the question of money inevitably came up. I met with our director of finance, and we started working some numbers. Suffice to say, even a small team over a small time adds up. And that doesn’t include overhead for a product website, marketing, community management, etc. It became pretty evident to me that my barrier to profit was much higher than I realized.

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