Start-up Special 2013: 27 essential tips on setting up your studio

Start-up Special 2013: 27 essential tips on setting up your studio
James Batchelor

By James Batchelor

November 5th 2013 at 3:40PM

Studios new and old offer their advice to future developers about those tricky first steps

All this month, we'll be sharing expert advice for start-ups on how they can make their dreams of establishing a successful games studio a reality.

There's plenty to look forward to as our jam-packed guide unfolds over the next few weeks, but to ease you into it gently, here's 27 pearls of wisdom from UK devs about what you might want to consider before you begin your own development journey.

Jay M Bedeau – CEO, Rie Studios

  • Jay M Bedeau, Rie StudiosNever over-inflate your self-perception be humble, understand your weaknesses and be constructively critical. Review your project, listen to all members of the team and always get a second opinion from an industry source or your consumers.
  • Take your time. When your game is ready, it'll speak for itself.
  • Plan your resources - especially time - obsessively 
  • Understand your role as a developer exists in a symbiotic relationship health of the business. Business issues must be addressed (i.e. cashflow problems will always negatively impact your projects).
  • Partner with other companies where possible. Think about who could get a vested interest in your product, and who can help bring your games to market.
  • Remember, life gets in the way


Andrew Smith – 
Managing Director, Spilt Milk Studios

  • Andrew Smith, Spilt Milk StudiosJust do it.
  • Learn about accounts, tax and business – or pay someone else who already knows.
  • Stick to your guns, but don’t be an asshole. You are what will make your company unique and therefore make it and your products valuable.
  • Don’t underestimate the time that things take when anyone else is involved.
  • Either use great, bulletproof contracts, or don’t use anything at all. Anything in-between causes headaches.
  • Expect grey hairs.
  • Work will not get done unless you do it.
  • Just do it.

Ella Romanos – CEO, Remode Studios

  • Ella Romanos, Remode StudiosFocus on making money, it's a necessary part of running a business.
  • Know your long-term goals, and be willing to do things that you don't consider glamorous or exciting if you need to, in order to achieve those goals.
  • Always have a business plan in whatever format suits you. Only worry about 'traditional' formats if you need to share it externally, otherwise do whatever works for you.
  • Assign clear responsibilities. Roles in a start-up are usually blurred, everyone chips in where they need, but responsibilities must be clear otherwise you end up with decision by committee which rarely achieves anything.
  • Take as much as advice as you can, from as many different people as you can. Consider it, and then make your own decision, don't follow other people's advice blindly.
  • It's all about contradictions when you start up, navigating them is your biggest challenge.
  • Don't try and copy others, learn from them and go your own way.
  • The team is the business, make sure you build a good one.
  • Have someone in the team who wants to, and does, focus on the business side – not everyone in your team can be making games.

Grant Alexander – Commercial Director, Beartrap Games

  • Grant Alexander, Beartrap GamesGet the business basics sorted first. Before we launched, we made sure we had the business bank account in place, an accountant on board that knows what he's doing and, of course, all other legal documents. Doing that at the start gets them out of the way and lets you concentrate on what you do best – making great games.
  • Stay focused. Make sure that all of the team are behind the ‘idea’. Your initial core team need to be up for the challenge, prepared to work long hours and undertake several projects – doing what it takes to make the company a success.
  • Think about the long term. From our launch, our focus has been on the long term sustainability and success of the studio. Not over obsessing on where the next pay cheque is coming from means we haven't sacrificed quality, reputation and direction.
  • If you're setting up as part of a team, work together. Once your business is ready, we recommend that focus should be placed on securing and funding your first office space. From our own experience, remote working wasn't ideal for us when we first started. As soon as we moved into our office, things started to move forward a lot quicker.

Don't forget, Develop's 2013 Start-up Special will be running online all month, with lots of expert advice and handy tips on the way. You can find it all at www.develop-online.net/startupspecial.