Jasmine kindly wrote the previous blog post giving her thoughts and tips from the time she spent at Glowing Eye Games as she rose through the ranks. With a small company like ours, her departure for new pastures leaves us at a crossroads. Even in these short weeks she has been missed, but it’s not the end of the world and we owe it to ourselves to look to the future.
Armed with her insightful exit interview, along with discussions internally it’s become obvious Glowing Eye Games is changing once again. Our aim is to find future colleagues that have the same beneficial impact to the company that she provided while continuing to avoid the political backstabbing that we’ve enjoyed throughout our history.
Before I start discussing the trials and tribulations that we’re looking to overcome, it’s worth saying that whenever we’ve had new joiners it’s always brought something into the company. Although ideas generally are cheap, having the opportunity to talk and more importantly listen to a colleague and then between you implement and execute them is vital. These collaborations have led to great improvements within the company over the years, and we must be doing something right to survive 14 years now. Our systems and procedures have improved and although I am Director of the company, my previous calling was as a producer. The changes that Jasmine and the rest of the team implemented over the years are better than the working methods that I had used previously. While I temporarily take the reins of our producing efforts, it’s immensely gratifying that my faith in Jasmine has been repaid with an improvement in my knowledge and the evolution of the way we work.
It leads to one thing that’s important to me, personally, while running the company. I get immense professional fulfilment from seeing improvements that we have made over the years. In particular I love facilitating the growth and development of our team, and although I’d prefer if Jasmine had stayed, it’s great that we have the company culture where progress is possible. It makes me want to hire an assistant producer or someone earlier in their games industry career and facilitate their development to a fully-fledged producer. Although I think we all work in a company where growth is possible, on the production side I can be a greater part of the solution of offering a framework that gives feedback and experience in an area where (I believe!) I know what I am doing (mostly).
In the exit interview, Jasmine obviously felt that she was being asked to provide real thoughts to our future, and she absolutely made it clear that marketing is one area where we could greatly improve. It’s something we as a team have thought for a while, but unfortunately, I’ve never quite resolved that issue despite our ever-increasing marketing budget. I don’t want to go into specifics too much, but we currently spend a five-digit amount in advertising every month, just for our games to remain relevant. This is a significant part of the company’s budget that has grown over last few years. With the Covid dividend for digital creators fading, it’s something we need to concern ourselves with again.
The problem stems with me, I’ve effectively coordinated the majority of the marketing operations, and I’m not a natural marketeer. Basic PR elements such as newsletters, social media and cross promotions have been implemented, but could be further refined. Getting our games noticed in general seems to be a weakness for us. Technically our marketing budget is almost completely spent on advertising rather than the time and skillset needed for PR.
Our advertising effort only really uses two sources, we’ve worked to optimise them and based on recent estimates with admittedly a varying quality of data, I have better idea of where we’re successful. Further optimisations are possible. We haven’t tested enough variations of our marketing packs and advertising efforts. One of the reoccurring themes is that digital advertising offers a great deal more options for testing different marketing material. We made a little progress here, but someone who has time to focus on this area could find a host of things to make even better and of course work out what tests we should perform next.
Recently I had a conversion with a friend who is far more marketing orientated, and the vagueness in my answers to his questions horrified me! So, a marketing hire is a must. How I do that is an interesting question and for me I’ve still got to work that out. The goal is in effect simple, to hire someone who can take that budget and improve on our results while fitting into our work environment. If they can’t get through the probationary period, then I failed on the hire. So, the questions I need to answer before proceeding all revolve around working out what is needed to move our promotional efforts to a higher level. That will involve some figuring out, and to start with I’m writing a job description of our current marketing and advertising efforts. That will shine a light on where we are today, the step after that is to research further and see what other competitors are doing, especially those who are similarly sized that appear to have been gaining success.
Now of course with two potential hires, it’s quite easy to have grandiose ideas, but one of the reasons Glowing Eye Games works on smaller projects, is that on a personal level I’ve always preferred working on games with smaller teams. I have had the good fortune to work on a couple of larger projects in my career, but they were never quite as enjoyable to me. So, one thing that always stays in my mind is that Glowing Eye Games has a maximum size, at least while I am running it! For me, I think we’ll start with two and then we’ll see how we get on before considering future options. Of course, if our hires are successful, then more options will present themselves. Hopefully we’ll make it another 14 years!