In this article I go over the things I’ve learned after years of getting help with service providers worldwide! From Art to assets to full out developers, here are 6 tips that I learnt along the way!
As you grow and expand your business you may find that you need help. Lets face it we’re not all artists or musicians or even 3D modellers! While trying to wear many hats you end up creating DEV games that show a serious lack of skill in several of those areas. So what do you do at those times? YOU OUTSOURCE! But where do you start and what do you need to watch out for? Lets walk into that in more detail now!
1. You Get What You Pay For Holds True…But There Are Definitely Some Gems!
Yes the old adage of “you get what you pay for” generally is true, but at the same time you can save quite a bit of money when outsourcing to the right people. Finding a balance between quality and price can be a challenge and so here are a few things that I discovered while looking for top talent.
a. Use reputable escrow/middlemen style sites where the money is with a third party and does NOT go to the actual service provider (Sites like UpWork.com and Fiverr.com are an example of these sorts of markets).
b. Don’t pay FULL PRICE until the job is done! Paying in installments ensures you will get the work completed.
c. NDA’s are great, but good luck trying to hunt a provider down. From my own experience if someone really wants to take your stuff and sell it, they’re gonna do it, and if you’re paying a service provider $500 for a set of 3D models and they decide to go and sell those models as well to someone else, the question is are you really going to spend more money to go and find that person and sue them? These become the moral challenges within things because it will actually cost more to do that. You’re better off hiring local talent for MISSION CRITICAL items such as your MAIN CHARACTER in a game and then use external artists for not so mission critical, ex. A forest or a landscape. Even if it gets resold, your end users wont really recognize it as much as they would a main character (Hope that makes sense but this is from my own experience). NOTE: This does not mean that you shouldn’t have NDA’s! They are still a MUST as they deter a lot of nonsense, but the point is that don’t RELY on NDA’s is what I’ve come to learn.
d. Paying more does not necessarily equal better quality!
Ok so thats the first point out of the way, the next point took me a LOT of people hired over the years to learn this concept, so take this as many thousands of dollars spent over the years to learn this next item…
2. The Further East the Lower The Quality (In General)…The Further West The Higher The Quality (In General)…
So even though this may be common sense, it’s really not that common and people don’t understand this point (And yes there are some exceptions to this rule). If we take Asia is the most east and North America as the most west as we travel around the world looking for service providers you will start to notice a distinct quality difference in your final products.
The more West you go, expect more systems in place to handle things, more quality and more security with your services that are provided to you (Ex. You know your NDA’s and Copyrights are more enforceable the more west you go compared to the east). The more East you go the less these services and infrastructure are there (In General). However in some cases there are full houses and teams DEDICATED just for following north american and western systems so if you find them, keep them as they are GOLD! China for example has some amazing dev teams (One of the many reasons I’m learning Mandarin! Some of these companies are incredible in China)
Now here is what I have personally found (These are personal results, yours may vary) in general: a. Mid-Europe and Eastern European’s are a POWER HOUSE of top quality developers when it comes to software. If I had only one choice to choose developers from it would be developers in mid to eastern Europe. They literally can make magic with code and are so well versed that I just have not found others who can do what they do with code.
b. Philippines => Great for artwork and English skills! Their service providers are great for customer service as well as creating high quality artwork at a relatively mid-price range.
c. China/India => If you’re looking for entire projects to be completed, China has incredible teams of dev houses for it. If I were hiring a team to help me on a project, I’d be choosing a Chinese dev house to help me build it all up (However not the artwork or assets, just literally putting it all together). India I’ve found to have great help for BPO items (Business Process Outsourcing) such as accounting, web development and other business related tasks. I personally however found the challenge was always in copyright issues and stuff and many times the professionals you thought you were working with turned out to be someone else. On several occasions I had people who came in to do the work, and the next day it was a DIFFERENT person or had NO IDEA what to do when they said they were pros at something (Literally lying on resumes and job descriptions). Once again this is from my own experience and yours may be different.
d. Western companies have the highest quality and the same systems and structures you are use to. I’d recommend these companies for MISSION CRITICAL items. From characters to getting your apk or ipa into the app stores, etc. I would NEVER trust others outside of the north american market with my final apk files for example (That’s just me but once again that’s my own experience from things).
Okay so that’s a brief overview of quality and work based on the world…but what about PRICING? Lets dive into that next!
3. The Further East, The Lower The Cost…The Further West, The Higher The Cost
So this one should be no surprise as you hear all the time that India and China are generally the cheapest location for service providers. There are a few caveats however that I do recommend and you should definitely checkout if you’re going down the road of outsourcing!
a. India/China => Lowest Cost in general.
b. Philippines => I have found that their teams are a happy medium price wise along with quality and so for saving money I’d go here for art and customer service (As per my notes above)
c. Europe => I like getting artwork from here as it tends to be higher quality. Prices are also relatively higher however not as high as north america. If you’re looking for high quality NPC’s, GUI work or stuff that you need high quality at a price that is pretty great (Not bargin bin but definitely not North American pricing) then Europe is great for this. The software side is definitely on the higher side and so you’ll want to watch and see the pricing. They may actually charge western rates, but you are getting devs there that are literally THE BEST in the world in my opinion. I’ve personally been developing since I was 10 and have years of dev experience and even a degree in computer science and those devs can do circles around me! If I’m going to invest money in top talent for dev work, even at market rates (And yes even times less than market but still up there) I’d be taking on European devs hands down in my opinion (Once again from my experience, your experiences may vary).
d. Middle East => There is a LOT of startups now coming out of the middle east that can do a lot. I personally have not investigated much and so I can’t speak on behalf of it but a lot of new service providers who are outsourcing their services to North American markets are popping up continuously.
e. North America => Most Expensive, These are market rates and you’d be looking at around $50-$300+/hour depending on what you’re looking to have done. Each service provider is different but like I said, if you’re looking for mission critical help, North America is where I’d put my money on if I had to choose my important items (Such as managing my apks, uploading them to markets, building my ipa files and managing my app business).
Now all of this brings me to my next point…Should you outsource?
4. Pros and Cons of Outsourcing
The pros of outsourcing are as follows: a. You save time b. You can have an app or game out before your competitors c. You can have more professional quality results if you do not have the skills that the other providers have (Ex. if you’re not an artist, hiring an artist may bring your game to the next levels) d. You can save considerable amounts of money The cons of outsourcing: a. Money cost (Depending on your budgets and who you choose as your service providers) b. Copyright and NDA issues (This depends on where in the world you choose your providers and each situation) c. It takes time to find a good mix of providers you can trust
There are more pros and cons for sure but these are just a few from each end that I can share from my experiences.
So where should you go if you want to get started in finding service providers?
5. A short list of service provider sites
This list is in no way a full list and there will be others all the time. These are the ones I’ve personally used based on my own experiences.
a. Fiverr.com – People will do different services for $5 (Now more as they upgraded the site) b. UpWork.com – Full out freelancing site c. elance.com – Another freelancing site d. 99designs.ca – Great for artwork e. Kijiji/Craigslist – Yes you can find local professionals on these sites f. YourManInIndia.com – You guessed it, Indian outsourced service providers g. guru.com – Another freelance site h. Toptal – Top developer freelance site i. UNITY LIVE EXPERTS – Your source for the TOP Unity talent
And ofcourse Unity Live Experts!!! (Yes you can get me if you’re lucky! I’m at the more costly end
6. GET IT IN WRITING! Keep an Email Trail!
In our digital world, email is the new paper. You need to keep an email trail to protect yourself because there will be times (Countless) where you told a service provider to provide you with X and they deliver Y and say you never said X. This is where you simply take out the email and paste in your exact requirements and what they agreed to.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you ever simply state over a video call or voice call your requirements and then not follow up with an email with the exact same requirements. Infact what I do is I send an email, state the requirements, then in a call I repeat the exact same requirements and then get them to email me back a confirmation that they understood those requirements.
This one set of steps has saved me time and again so that outsourced houses dont try and overcharge you extra fees for a so called “Add-on” to the project that was clearly in the original request. KEEP THIS ONE TIP IN MIND, IT COULD SAVE YOU MANY MANY DOLLARS AND HEADACHES!
So there you have it, my six tips and advice for outsourcing which I’ve learnt over the years after investing thousands of dollars and building over 70+ apps and games. I hope it serves you well as you look out for your next service providers!
Now go make some awesome games! You are a super star! Keep up the great work and NEVER GIVE UP! You Got This!! BE A CHAMPION!
Nav is a Unity Live Expert and Mobile Game and App Developer