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What is Co-Development?

Studio Gobo gives an overview of what Co-Development means to us, the studio and the teams that work here.


What is Co-Development?

What is co-development?

We wanted to talk a bit more about exactly what it is we do at Studio Gobo and what it’s like to work at a AAA co-development studio. Often referred to as “co-dev”, co-development is collaborative cooperation to develop an idea or project. When a project, feature or anything is worked on by multiple parties in collaboration with each other, that’s co-development. As with the movie industry, much of a production is distributed among many different and varied specialist teams. As AAA games continue to increase in size and scope, a distributed development model has been emerging. This allows a Lead Team to take advantage of different time zones and the wealth of talent pools in different geographical locations. 


How is co-development useful?

Sometimes it’s big companies who want to expand the project they’re working on, sometimes it’s smaller companies with ideas but not enough technical experience to be able to implement their ideas by themselves. If a studio owns their own work, they might not want to simply contract out a feature of that work, but instead keep being very involved on a day-to-day level and hire a co-development studio to quickly integrate into their teams. It’s like immediately getting a full or partial team of people to fill in the gaps. If a project ends up being expanded or over-estimated in terms of how many people or how much time it will take, that’s when it’s useful to work with a co-development studio.


What is a co-development games studio?

There are a few types of co-development studio. A co-development studio could offer a broad range of disciplines or an emphasis on one or two. Some co-development companies offer one service, such as sound design or programming, for example; others can adapt to whatever it is that the hiring studio is looking for. 

In Studio Gobo’s case, we’re more the latter. We have around 100 people of many different skills at the company, making us very flexible when it comes to meeting the needs that a partner studio may have, and means that we can work on a lot of different kinds of projects.


How is it different from being contracted by a publisher?

With co-development there’s much more of a focus on communication. It’s not simply a case of being assigned a task and completing it – when we work on a project, we integrate into the teams. We are still tied to a contract, but we have a lot of control over our production planning and scope management. 


How do co-development studios work?

Usually there will be one studio that owns a project, and they’ll hire a co-development studio to work with them if they need or want to put more people onto that project. 

In Studio Gobo’s case, we own and deliver “features” of the game. These are elements that are part of a game, such as new game modes in For Honor or an entire playset in Disney Infinity. We operate semi-independently, working to schedules that we agree with the project-owning studio. When everything is working smoothly, it’s as if we’re in the same room as the studio we’re working with, working on our elements of the game.


How is Studio Gobo a co-dev studio?

We don’t own any of the franchises or games that we work on; we only work on projects that are owned by other companies. We also work very closely with the developers at those other companies, essentially becoming a part of that studio’s team for as long as we’re contracted to work on their project.


Why is Studio Gobo a co-dev studio?

Being a co-dev studio means we get to work on a variety of projects at once, which is interesting for the team and offers a lot of opportunity for career advancement. It’s also very secure. We have multiple projects running at one time, all of varying team size depending on what’s needed by the people we work with. If one of our projects ends up not working out, it’s unfortunate, but we have other contracts with other developers that also act as a safety net. 

The games industry in the UK is in a good place overall, but we’ve all seen situations where a company has found itself in financial trouble faster than they’d anticipated. It brings us a lot of peace of mind to be able to offer security in the work we do.


So at Studio Gobo, you don’t get to choose what you work on?

That’s not quite right! Everyone here at Studio Gobo gets to put their view forward on whether a project is right for us or not. It’s wonderful to be able to offer people positions that are very secure in an often volatile industry, but it’s also important to us that we enjoy what we’re working on and are proud of what we’re creating. We work on projects that we didn’t create, but so does almost everyone working in the games industry. There’s still a lot of space to explore ideas and be creative.

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