Leadership Lessons Learnt From the Gaming Industry

The video game industry generates $100 billion in revenue every year. It’s also a competitive market, where consumers are constantly pushing for new games and new ways to play those games. Keeping a business thriving in this market takes some big ideas, and big leaders to push those ideas forward.

There are many people involved in developing and producing new games. Coders create and document the game, artists illustrate them, actors voice the characters, and test audiences provide feedback to the developers. Marketing and sales get the products to customers, and support teams respond to customer problems.

This team of creative and technological personalities has to have a leader who can integrate all the moving parts of the game creation process. Without this leadership, the team may lose its motivation to produce. You can learn from these movers and shakers of the gaming industry. Here are some ideas to get you motivated:

Understand your customer

Will Wright was the first video game developer who thought his customers would want to play games for fun. He made the game about playing – not winning, losing, killing or even beating the game. He recognized an audience desire to use video games as toys, and developed SimCity and its many sequels. Satoru Iwata from Nintendo also refocused his company on the inherent playfulness of games, a shift that has redefined the video game concept. You can also take a cue from Anna Sweet, head of developer strategy at Oculus, who advocates a focus on the features your customers want, and allowing your developers to provide them.

Build careers from a young age

Smart leaders understand that the future workers of the world will stand a better chance if they are computer savvy. That is why some companies are designing games that are not only fun, but also usable in educational settings. The bottom line is, if you are educating kids, you are also developing your future employees.

The developers: freedom, failure, and fresh faces

You cannot run a gaming company without developers. And those developers need a reason to work for your company, because there are plenty of gaming companies out there. Freedom to do what they do best is the standard at Electronic Arts, run by CEO John Riccitiello. This leadership philosophy, which allows for risky projects to be developed, has resulted in a slew of successful games from its developers.

Bobby Kotick turned Activision into a company worth over $12 billion. Activision publishes World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, two of the industry’s biggest games. Kotick’s success teaches many lessons, including that failure can be your friend. He lets his employees run with ideas, and through evaluation from audiences, discovers what works and what doesn’t. A new product may be wildly successful, go in a different direction, or fail outright. Kotick lets his people explore those ideas in the first place. You can learn more about him on this Bobby Kotick Profile.

If a company is recruiting new talent, they can evolve and push boundaries. That is the philosophy of Valve, and its managing director, Gabe Newell. Valve even used a student team to develop some of its games.


A video game won’t be successful if customers don’t know about it. You want to include a marketing strategy that gives a powerful and direct name to the product, and that offers pre-release trailers and trial periods to give the user a sense of the game.

Respond to changing technology or focus resources...

While dedicated gaming devices are the norm, the uptake in sales of Apple devices has changed gaming. With millions of tablets sold, and consumers playing games on those devices, the opportunity for expanding the gaming world is infinite. But Apple seems content to let the apps come to them. Rather than dip into the design world themselves, Apple takes on smaller developers, increasing the bottom line for themselves and the developers.

Leaders use resources that help understand the market, including competitors. If you are looking for insight into startups, established companies or the people who run them, CrunchBase provides a platform for just that. You can find market insights and chart your future with the best information.

Strategy: throw lots of games out there

If you offer something for everyone, you stand a good chance of making more sales. Ubisoft, and their chair and CEO, Yves Guillemot, have large development studios and some big hits, but the number of brands is his secret to success. His company also adapts as new platforms are developed, so you can always be playing a Ubi game.

The leaders of the gaming industry have innovative and practical ideas for success. Taking a page from their books may not only inspire you but also result in an increase in productivity, ideas and sales for your company.



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