Viktor Kudryavtsev, Content Delivery Manager at Wargaming and author of the Game Producer course, shared his understanding of production risks.

A small remark before the material: on March 21, Kudryavtsev's free webinar "How to become a game producer and develop in the profession" will be held on the WN Academy platform. You can register using this link.

Victor Kudryavtsev

Management and risks

The main task of the producer is the success of the project.

In most cases, success is understood as making a profit. But quite often a completely different task is set. For example, strengthening the brand or attracting a new audience.

Whatever the task, the producer must take into account all possible risks that jeopardize its fulfillment.

So it turns out that risk management is one of the most important disciplines for him.

For reference, risk management is the search for possible risks and building a project strategy with them in mind.

What are the risks?

Global theory and practice in game development often diverge, so I have compiled a list of the risks that most often came my way as a producer.

By urgency

When planning a project development map, I lay down the risks, primarily based on the question, when can the risk work?

Based on the timing, the risks are divided into three groups:

  • strategic;
  • tactical;
  • burning ones.

It is somewhat similar to planning the goals of a project. And this is not surprising, because avoiding critical risks is, in fact, one of the key goals of a producer.

Strategic risks are the risks that we put on the entire process of game development and monetization at the very beginning. They are more predictable, have a general character and are usually easily controlled.

Tactical risks are things that can go wrong in the foreseeable future (usually within the next three to six months). The producer encounters them very often. For example: the team has developed a prototype and primary metrics below the planned ones. An experienced producer knows when it makes sense to refine the game, and when it's worth revisiting the idea.

The most difficult thing is to work with burning risks. For example: Yesterday you had a department of three artists, and today you have only one. This is a burning risk, rapidly turning into a crisis. How to take into account such a risk? One option is to have an outsourcer team that you have already worked with "on hand" (which is why, even when there are enough people in production, reliable outsourcers for the future are still being sought in parallel).

By type

In addition to the urgency, I also break down the risks by type.

There are more groups here and their number may vary depending on the project and the situation:

  • global (political, market, meteorological, mainly related to the whole world);
  • regional (for example, if the remote employees live in the same city and the electricity is periodically turned off there);
  • design projects;
  • command;
  • technical;
  • financial.

I will not talk about the first two in detail here, in general, these are common risks for any company, which are not solved at the producer level. However, if the company does not have a plan in case of a repeat lockdown or natural disasters, then it is worth highlighting this to the management and taking it into account.

Project risks are those that are directly related to the game you are making. This includes the popularity of the game's genre and setting, audience demand for similar games, and competition with other games.

Team risks are potential risks that concern the team. For example, when developing a game, you can do without an analyst in the early stages. But when it is needed, there is a risk that it will not be found in the required time. It is worth considering and trying to solve it in advance.

Technical – those risks that are associated with the technical part of game development. From choosing an engine and reliable file storage, to servers and equipment in the office. For example, large companies calculate the cost of equipment per employee per year, and so on.

Financial – financial costs for the production of the game. In the spirit: employees are asking for a raise, equipment is getting more expensive, services are also rising in price. Given that many games have been developed for two to three years, these risks are inevitable. They are solved in different ways. Some, for example, lay down an additional budget, at least 20% of the calculated one, and also add inflation.

Hidden risks and force majeure

Risks can be hidden, sometimes force majeure occurs - this is normal. That is why it is worth allocating part of the resources to overcome them.

It is also advised to adhere to the rule of planning a reserve of resources at the same 20% (we are talking about time, money, team and other resources that you have involved).

How does a novice producer deal with risks?

A novice producer differs from an experienced one mainly in that he does not represent the number of potential risks that he may face.

Three main recommendations for working with risks for beginners and not only producers:

  • after fixing all the risks of the project, it is necessary to give a look and supplement them to colleagues, producers and heads of departments of development of the future project;
  • Always consider Murphy's Law;
  • to record all the experience on paper, you will need it when working with risks in the future (not only on the current project).

It is also important to remember two things. First, the risks can be controlled! Secondly, the word risk itself does not have a negative connotation. Rather, it's about new opportunities.