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Game Industry Evolution — From Gold Master to Games-as-a-Service

To a large extent, the move from traditional game industry business models to Games-as-a-Service (GaaS) has already happened.

To a large extent, the move from traditional game industry business models to Games-as-a-Service (GaaS) has already happened. Supercell, Machine Zone, and many others have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it works for mobile. More recently, Io-Interactive has paved the way for triple-A studios, on console and PC, with their first episodic Hitman.

GaaS has many advantages from both a business and a player perspective. For the business, the risk is reduced since they no longer have to place one huge bet on a two hundred plus person team working for a year or more on a single release product. Smaller teams, releasing continuously or episodically can also offer a better experience to the player thanks to the ability to monitor play behaviors and receive feedback on a regular basis. Between releases, both the studios and players further benefit from live-ops events, which increase player engagement by making the game feel constantly fresh and alive.

The benefits of GaaS have become apparent. However, existing publishers and development studios can struggle with the transition. They’re often challenged with moving the organization from a hierarchical, siloed, phase-based structure to a flatter, integrated, Agile structure and mindset. The business needs to be retooled to act like a unified, continuous delivery service, rather than a packaged product manufacturer.

Now, more than ever, the key to this transition is agility. Agile for the entire organization. Development teams have become adept at Agile development, but they now need to include Agile releases. Marketing can no longer work in a waterfall way; they must be fully aligned with development and able to adapt to changing release plans. The same holds true for industry executives and the business as a whole, accepting constant player feedback and being able to adjust accordingly.

Just as the entire business will benefit from adopting a unified Agile mindset, an organization-wide collaboration and planning tool will further help with the transition. Here’s how to setup Favro for Gaming-as-a-Service.

Agile Release Planning

For development teams already used to Agile development, the big difference is the addition of Agile release planning. The main focus should now be, “What did we learn from the previous release?” Taking into account all the feedback we received from actual paying players, how can we adapt and improve the game? For example, a previous low priority feature has unexpectedly become the most popular aspect of the game. It needs to be expanded and made much larger: three user stories have become ten in the feature backlog. This insight should dynamically move previously planned features to a later release. When this occurs, all aspects of the business should be involved and made instantly aware via a shared Favro release board. This story goes in-depth on the topic of both modern release planning and scope/capacity management.

Feature team collection with a shared release plan
Feature team collection with a shared release plan

Agile Marketing

Just as each development team should have their particular Favro collection of backlogs and boards, each title’s marketing team should also have their specific collection. The title’s changing and evolving release plan board is shared with all title related collections, aligning everyone in the organization. In addition to a marketing backlog and workflow board of marketing efforts currently in progress, a marketing collection could contain a live-ops or daily in-game events board. This board could be configured for any interval: daily, weekly, etc., and plan for in-game events, sales, and tournaments.

Marketing collection with shared release plan, backlog, team board, and live-ops board
Marketing collection with shared release plan, backlog, team board, and live-ops board

If marketing is also responsible for community management and collecting player feedback, the aggregate of all player complaints and suggestions can be captured and shared with the development team via a prioritized community feedback backlog. The player feedback will help inform the development team with their feature backlog grooming, development iteration, and release planning.

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Community feedback backlog shared with feature team collection

Agile Business

GaaS requires executives and studio leadership to be much more closely aligned with development and marketing. With constant visibility to all team efforts, they’ll be better equipped to drive change from a pure business goal perspective. This alignment is accomplished with an executive collection, combining shared release boards and development/marketing backlogs. The collection could be title-specific or a portfolio collection, aggregating the most critical boards and backlogs from multiple titles.


Executive and studio leadership collection
Executive & studio leadership collection

In addition, Favro’s iOS and Android apps allow game industry executives to be in constant touch with teams whenever and wherever they choose.

Favro web and iOS (also on Android) apps
Favro web and iOS (also on Android) apps

Adapt and thrive

As Games-as-a-Service continues to proliferate, game studios need to change their organizational structure, mindset, and tools to support the new business realities. Not only do hierarchical levels need to be aligned, but typically diverse functions of the organization need to be working not in phases but in unison. Any change is difficult, and a change of this magnitude can seem insurmountable. We can help. Favro facilitates the organization-wide alignment and collaboration that will allow your studio to not only survive but thrive in this modern era of game development.

You can try all of this yourself, right now, by signing up and using our Gaming-as-a-Service template.

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