Thursday, July 2, 2009

Working in an outsourcing team

In the past, I had couple of chances working with outsourcing teams in China and Taiwan. But now, I am working on projects from clients in US and other part of India. So I start to taste the life of working in an outsourcing team. Before revealing my life, let’s have a quick look on Game Outsourcing industry.

Why outsourcing

Similar to other business, outsourcing aims at giving higher flexibility and better cost saving. One aspect of outsourcing in game industry is on artwork as huge amount of content and artwork are needed in next gen games. Artwork outsourcing gives flexibility in volume by handling spark of short term demands. One presentation in GDC shows that Vituos Games, an outsourcing studio, helped “Test Drive Unlimited” to produce 100 cars in 6 months. In addition, outsourcing helps bringing different skills, like cinematic, localization into projects adding flexibility and dynamics to small core team.

Who outsource

It is seen that outsourcing can be found across the industry, from large studio to individual who want to build a game on his/her own idea. Due to different level of experience, there are a wide variety of requirement and deliverable. Well established game studios can provide a set of structured documents and tools, while individual may start everything from scratch.

What can be outsource

From the directory of, game outsourcing industry seems cover most of the areas, including, game design, illustration, graphic design, level design, music and sound effects, game development, testing and localization.

Where can we find outsourcing team

Extracted from, you can see game studios are all over the globe and outsourcing teams can be found from US to China and different regions have their whole strengths and weaknesses. Lewis Peterson, President & CEO, 7 Studios, listed 4 regions including, Eastern Europe, India, China and Taiwan and commented that China and Taiwan are relatively more all-rounded, while Eastern Europe and India have strength in art.


Though outsourcing is a common practice, not all the cases are successful. Companies/individuals consider outsourcing part of their work may need to consider, i) hidden cost, ii) communication, iii) resource integration, iv) asset management, v) deadline and scope management and vi) resource control, like team composition. It is necessary to have a check, like visiting, due diligence, small trial run and continuous communication before committing fully.

Best Practice?

Rajesh Rao, from Dhruva, a Bangalore based game outsourcing studio listed Top 5 what went right

#1 Long Term vision and co-operation

#2 Adaptive to change

#3 Good Client involvement, including provision of dev kits and game builds

#4 Clear Guidelines

#5 Client visit for project preparation

These only cover a bit of the game outsourcing industry. I want to end this blog by sharing life and learning working in an outsourcing team

i) Fighting time zone - Eastern Time (US and Canada) is GMT -5:00, while IST is GMT +5:30, i.e. 10.5 hours in between. In a simple put, their 9:00 is our 19:30, so we have quite late meeting starting from 19:30 till 22:00+ or early morning meeting.

ii) Adapt to different culture – Honestly, I am quite happy with that as the team is very multinational and we can learn from different cultures. Back to business, it tends to be less rubber and rely more on documents and written confirmation.

iii) Working with multiple projects and clients at the same time – As mentioned, outsourcing give flexibility but on the other hand, for outsourcing company to be profitable, they need to have multiple projects and keep everyone busy. So most of the staff are multitasked and it imposes challenges to project management.

I hope you enjoy that. I will be in Pune this weekend. See you~

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