Several gaming executives take their corporate practices very seriously.
Rob Pardo, the founder of Bonfire Studios, has been in the business long enough to know about building cultures at different game studios. After completing prominent roles at Blizzard, he is also no stranger to the GamesBeat Summit, which he has participated in since 2019.
Ilkka Paananen, one of the founders of Supercell, talks about the production of high-end mobile games such as Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Hay Day, Brawl Stars, and Boom Beach.
The first word is the names. Supercells philosophy is that teams must be self-sufficient, work in small structures, and operate independently in order to do their best creative work. Supercell excels in the creative process, unleashing the maximum potential of their employees and their employees.
The company flipped the traditional organizational pyramid upside down and spirted to facilitate a truly bottoms-up creative paradigm. It embedded the responsibility at the team level and made them the true performance unit rather than the more traditional profit/loss center orientation. Quite a number of companies talk this talk; it''s easy to say, but it''s very difficult to do.
The studio was established for this purpose. Its directors envisioned a company that is employee-driven. Paananen believes that the best players make the best games.
So, in building studio culture, the goal was to create self-actuating collaborators. In order to provide maximum freedom, but in ways that would not have strong personalities grind to a halt due to disagreements.
Supercell has a philosophy that teams must have a common objective and vision.
How do you resolve conflicts while building the studio in freeing teams to be self-driven?
Friction and debates are beneficial for teams; what we often refer to as healthy tension. However, to create cohesive studio culture, the environment cannot be combative. The best teams are the most passionate. So leadership facilitates and guides teams to define their vision and then allows them to find themselves by moving through those tension points with guardrails so it does not boil over.
I doubt there is an upper bound in this strategy. I think every situation is different, every team game is different, and every game is different. However, I think what we have seen in our culture, how we kind of talk about things, and we have made it clear to always think how do we improve for our players. We use this term improvement mindset''.
The teams at the business are the appropriate size. It is the teams clarity of vision that determines its size. Teams are self-actuating organizational structures. This allows them to maintain scope within the limits of team size and to expand only as needed.
To never be satisfied. That any teams game, as great as it is, can be questioned. To be humble and willing to accept feedback.
After making the mistake, Paananen acknowledged making his own mistakes, such as reorganizing too small teams after opening hit games. Initially the small teams were ideal for opening games, but after becoming hits, the strain of coming up with continuous live operations became more like running on a treadmill.
Empowered studios are more resilient, bolstering resilience in studio culture.
As part of the pandemic, the company has had to make adjustments while building its culture. That has allowed them to handle various situations. One of the problems was the pandemic. They were able to do and try something different, according to Paananen. Since then they were able to demonstrate that some really great work might happenWe really trusted the teams to figure out the way they wanted.
He goes on to note that we select teams that we just trust and then that if we trust those teams, we will not be telling them what to do. We dont even control our internal teams, but not our external teams. We invest in studios that we invest in.
Supercell continues to expand as new challenges arise. It is the culture that makes them resilient, as teams are capable of adapting and orienting to changes in both the creative field and the industry. This is a strong discussion between two fantastic creative minds in the industry who have helped teams in many ways that have prevented negative environments that we have heard many reports of this year. Some of these larger corporations would do well to listen to this talk.