Interview with the CEO of a game development studio

Dive into the dynamic game development and art production world as we sit down with Alexander Khodorkovsky, the visionary CEO and Founder of Argentics, an established and reliable game development, art production, and AR/VR outsourcing partner that helped many emerging game studios successfully build their first products. In this interview, Alexander shares valuable insights into the strategies allowing Argentics to solve game development’s major development pain points.

About Myself and the Team

Can you provide a brief overview of your background and experience in the gaming industry?

My journey in the gaming industry traces back to a childhood passion that gradually evolved into a profound curiosity for game development. So, I started a studio working on gamified experiences for businesses, Argentics. Over several years, it has grown into a powerhouse of talent and values-driven professionals. Today, we work on the entire game production pipeline, offering services ranging from game design and concept art to engineering, QA, infrastructure, and post-release support. Also, Argentics stands out in immersive solutions, readily contributing to producing engaging VR, AR, or MR experiences for startups and established businesses. 

Would you describe your core services model as work-fo-hire?

Only to some extent. There is always a blurry line between doing just another piece of concept work or fixing a glitchy multiplayer on the one hand and a holistic approach to building something that people will enjoy playing on the other. I’d say that we offer turnkey game development services. Argentics is a one-stop shop for your end-to-end game development needs. We can build a casual mobile game or a competitive console MOBA from the ground up, which very few outsourcing studios can do.

And there is a huge difference between, say, an art outsourcing or VFX studio and Argentics. Our clients seek to successfully design and develop the first game in their lives or the first game for their brand-new studio if we are talking about game dev veterans who launch their startups. And it’s very risky to delegate such an intricate task to several studios or freelancers scattered worldwide. This is where we come into play with our end-to-end expertise.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have design, art, and technical experts aligned during the entire production process, especially at its very beginning. Many new studios make mistakes by using poorly scalable architecture, trying to add too much content and features in their demo, or underestimating the importance of art optimization. We help our clients make strategically sound choices that will not undermine the success of their projects.

Could you please elaborate on the way you help your clients?

I’ll try briefly explaining our philosophy and work ethics and how they help us bring value to our clients. First and foremost, we love asking questions. If you don’t know enough about your client’s underlying motives to build a game and success criteria for the game, you know very little about their project. And it’s tempting to model a few characters or design a combat system without spending too much time digging into the details. On the flip side of simply doing the job, we ensure that what we do adds value. 

Numerous game startups fall victim to outsourcing companies that just don’t care enough about the soul of the project they are working on. You can do your job well, but it just might not be the job that you should be doing. As we all know, many new projects are shorton cash, a major pain point for nearly every startup. So, we must ensure the funds are used to highlight the project’s unique selling points. 

For example, you want to release your first MOBA with 10 heroes. But investing in sketching, modeling, and animating all 10 and working on their skills might be an overkill for a demo. On the contrary, laying a solid game loop and technical foundations is way more worth your money. When we see what looks like a poor set of priorities, we always suggest a better, more sustainable way to our clients.

How do you ensure that you can effectively solve your clients’ challenges?

It boils down to a mix of our culture, industry experience, and love for the craft. We don’t treat our job as work-for-hire; we help design and build cool games we would be proud to play. If you don’t like the way game characters look, if you think that the music is a bit off or that an initial arena design leaves much to be desired, you will not make players happy. It’s that simple.

Of course, it’s an uneasy task to build a team that rigorously follows such a philosophy. The climate inside the company matters too much to hire people only based on their hard skills. But of course, we require our talents to have solid hands-on experience with the latest tools and best practices. 

And there is the third rule for making clients happy. And it’s about having good chemistry. Sometimes, you just feel like the other party could be better off with a different game studio or a couple of freelancers. I believe it is critical to the project’s long-term success that both parties align their values and expectations. But if you are passionate about building a cool game that will make numerous players happy, we’ll be a good match for you!

What would you recommend to new game studio founders to build their first game successfully?

Build a game you and your team and friends would enjoy playing. Dedicating yourself to creating something you don’t love is always impossible. Yes, there are always market trends and some cool titles that scored hundreds of millions in sales. Every great game title and top gamedev studio started with a passion project. Think of Blizzard, Valve, or Larian Studios.  

Of course, you should know your audience and conduct at least a high level of research. It’s even better to start slowly building a community that will eagerly share some feedback with your team. Also, it will help you during the fundraising process, as investors always prefer projects with at least some traction.

And, of course, be perseverant. Developing a well-refined game vision takes time, and you may have to revise it repeatedly. So, surround yourself with willing, resourceful, knowledgeable teammates and partners ready to take a long journey. 

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