Stefan Baier from Streamline Studios shared his insight about how to maintain the balance between game service work and develop your own IP.
Some big game companies create their own IP titles and gain success in mobile, PC or console. Others do game service work to support them. And there are several companies that do both. One of the biggest companies that not only provide game services but also work in IP creation is Streamline Studios, which is now based in Malaysia.
Streamline Studios was founded in 2001 in Hilversum, Netherland, and they have been working on games and animation ever since. The original founders consist of friends: Alexander Fernandez, Stefan Baier, Renier Banninga and Adrian Banninga whose main interests are gaming.
Some of their notable works as a game service company are Gears of War, BioShock Infinite, Street Fighter V, Killer Instinct, and the most recent one, Final Fantasy XV including the DLC, Monster of the Deep. They also contribute to James Cameron’s Avatar, the highest grossing film in history today.
Game Prime had a chance to talk with Stefan Baier, the Co-founder and Chief of Product & Solutions at Streamline Studios. Stefan gave his insight about how they maintain the balance between game service business while creating their own IP, and also some tips for developers who want to start their own companies.
Maybe you can also share the first AAA project that you’re involved in?
I think the first bigger project was by Human Head Studios called Dead Man’s Hand for Atari. Those were the days 🙂
What is your company doing right now?
We have several of our own games in development at this point and are going to speak more about them throughout 2018. We also have several teams working with our Japanese, European and American partners.
How many offices and employees do you have?
Here in Malaysia we currently have two offices, with over 200 staff between them. We also have people in Japan and other countries where our partners are busy, but those are not development offices at the moment.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing a game company should have if they decided to be a game service company?
Relationships matter. Video games are made by talented teams and individuals, and if we don’t work together inside, or between outside partners, then nothing will get done. This means investing into tools and methods that nurture your internal culture but also build bridges with those external studios you want to work together with for the long run.
As an AAA game service company, you work with several clients at any one time. How do you make sure your company fulfils clients’ expectations?
It’s important to grow your company slowly but steadily, and not to bite off more than you can chew. Always know where your limits are so you don’t disappoint your partners. That being said, challenges help you improve. So, it’s usually a case-by-case choice when a new opportunity presents itself. It’s a fine line to walk between ambition and predictability.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge as a game service company?
Working on big title productions can be a big challenge, with pressures by partners as well as your internal teams – trying to balance out all the different parts that make a game successful – across various time-zones, languages, skillsets and technologies. It can be overwhelming.
Do you also develop a game based your own IP? Can you share a little bit about that?
Yes, we are working on a few internal games, mostly leaning onto action or sports, all in 3D. PC action games have always been big at the studio and our games reflect that. The switch is also interesting for us.
How do you maintain the balance between developing your own IP and your general services? Do you have any strategy for this?
You have to do that very, very carefully. Building partnerships that help with future game deals can help, and so can building internal goodwill and initiatives for your own games.
What is the ratio between the service team and the IP team? Which one needs more manpower and why?
The ratio depends on the deal structure, the kind of work we do for our partners, and how our game development needs with our partners are looking in that year. I think service is always going to be important for us, but internal development has been growing in the past years.
Talk about Streamline’s work, do you have any wishes about one project that you will be involved in the future?
I have a couple of wish list items we’ll hopefully get to work on in the coming years; outside of those, it’s really about getting our own games out on the market.
Are there any possibilities for Streamline Studios to open another office outside Malaysia?
Streamline has always been operating as a global company, with locations in Europe and the US, and Asia. We’re looking at our next moves, and it’s looking likely there will be further offices of Streamline in the near future.
If there is any advice you can offer for newly established game studios? What should they do first to make sure the studio will sustain longer?
Make sure you have steady deal flow, a good legal advisor, and a good finance person.
Do you have any advice for game studios who want to move into the game service industry?
Travel. Go to events. Talk to business people. Be courageous. Be proud of your work and your nation. Don’t think they know something you don’t. Believe in yourself and your team, and you will win.
Edited by Devi