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    • By RyRyB
      I got into a conversation awhile ago with some fellow game artists and the prospect of signing bonuses got brought up. Out of the group, I was the only one who had negotiated any sort of sign on bonus or payment above and beyond base compensation. My goal with this article and possibly others is to inform and motivate other artists to work on this aspect of their “portfolio” and start treating their career as a business. 
      What is a Sign-On Bonus?
      Quite simply, a sign-on bonus is a sum of money offered to a prospective candidate in order to get them to join. It is quite common in other industries but rarely seen in the games unless it is at the executive level. Unfortunately, conversations centered around artist employment usually stops at base compensation, quite literally leaving money on the table.
      Why Ask for a Sign-On Bonus?
      There are many reasons to ask for a sign-on bonus. In my experience, it has been to compensate for some delta between how much I need vs. how much the company is offering.
      For example, a company has offered a candidate a position paying $50k/year. However, research indicates that the candidate requires $60k/year in order to keep in line with their personal financial requirements and long-term goals. Instead of turning down the offer wholesale, they may ask for a $10k sign on bonus with actionable terms to partially bridge the gap.
      Whatever the reason may be, the ask needs to be reasonable. Would you like a $100k sign-on bonus? Of course! Should you ask for it? Probably not. A sign-on bonus is a tool to reduce risk, not a tool to help you buy a shiny new sports car.
      Aspects to Consider
      Before one goes and asks for a huge sum of money, there are some aspects of sign-on bonus negotiations the candidate needs to keep in mind.
      - The more experience you have, the more leverage you have to negotiate
      - You must have confidence in your role as an employee.
      - You must have done your research. This includes knowing your personal financial goals and how the prospective offer changes, influences or diminishes those goals.
      To the first point, the more experience one has, the better. If the candidate is a junior employee (roughly defined as less than 3 years of industry experience) or looking for their first job in the industry, it is highly unlikely that a company will entertain a conversation about sign-on bonuses. Getting into the industry is highly competitive and there is likely very little motivation for a company to pay a sign-on bonus for one candidate when there a dozens (or hundreds in some cases) of other candidates that will jump at the first offer.
      Additionally, the candidate must have confidence in succeeding at the desired role in the company. They have to know that they can handle the day to day responsibilities as well as any extra demands that may come up during production. The company needs to be convinced of their ability to be a team player and, as a result, is willing to put a little extra money down to hire them. In other words, the candidate needs to reduce the company’s risk in hiring them enough that an extra payment or two is negligible.
      And finally, they must know where they sit financially and where they want to be in the short-, mid-, and long-term. Having this information at hand is essential to the negotiation process.
      The Role Risk Plays in Employment
      The interviewing process is a tricky one for all parties involved and it revolves around the idea of risk. Is this candidate low-risk or high-risk? The risk level depends on a number of factors: portfolio quality, experience, soft skills, etc. Were you late for the interview? Your risk to the company just went up. Did you bring additional portfolio materials that were not online? Your risk just went down and you became more hireable.
      If a candidate has an offer in hand, then the company sees enough potential to get a return on their investment with as little risk as possible. At this point, the company is confident in their ability as an employee (ie. low risk) and they are willing to give them money in return for that ability.
      Asking for the Sign-On Bonus
      So what now? The candidate has gone through the interview process, the company has offered them a position and base compensation. Unfortunately, the offer falls below expectations. Here is where the knowledge and research of the position and personal financial goals comes in. The candidate has to know what their thresholds and limits are. If they ask for $60k/year and the company is offering $50k, how do you ask for the bonus? Once again, it comes down to risk.
      Here is the point to remember: risk is not one-sided. The candidate takes on risk by changing companies as well. The candidate has to leverage the sign-on bonus as a way to reduce risk for both parties.
      Here is the important part:
      A sign-on bonus reduces the company’s risk because they are not commiting to an increased salary and bonus payouts can be staggered and have terms attached to them. The sign-on bonus reduces the candidate’s risk because it bridges the gap between the offered compensation and their personal financial requirements.
      If the sign-on bonus is reasonable and the company has the finances (explained further down below), it is a win-win for both parties and hopefully the beginning a profitable business relationship.
      A Bit about Finances
      First off, I am not a business accountant nor have I managed finances for a business. I am sure that it is much more complicated than my example below and there are a lot of considerations to take into account. In my experience, however, I do know that base compensation (ie. salary) will generally fall into a different line item category on the financial books than a bonus payout. When companies determine how many open spots they have, it is usually done by department with inter-departmental salary caps.
      For a simplified example, an environment department’s total salary cap is $500k/year. They have 9 artists being paid $50k/year, leaving $50k/year remaining for the 10th member of the team. Remember the example I gave earlier asking for $60k/year? The company cannot offer that salary because it breaks the departmental cap. However, since bonuses typically do not affect departmental caps, the company can pull from a different pool of money without increasing their risk by committing to a higher salary.
      Sweetening the Deal
      Coming right out of the gate and asking for an upfront payment might be too aggressive of a play (ie. high risk for the company). One way around this is to attach terms to the bonus. What does this mean? Take the situation above. A candidate has an offer for $50k/year but would like a bit more. If through the course of discussing compensation they get the sense that $10k is too high, they can offer to break up the payments based on terms. For example, a counterpoint to the initial base compensation offer could look like this:
      - $50k/year salary
      - $5k bonus payout #1 after 30 days of successful employment
      - $5k bonus payout #2 after 365 days (or any length of time) of successful employment
      In this example, the candidate is guaranteed $55k/year salary for 2 years. If they factor in a standard 3% cost of living raise, the first 3 years of employment looks like this:
      - Year 0-1 = $55,000 ($50,000 + $5,000 payout #1)
      - Year 1-2 = $56,500 (($50,000 x 1.03%) + $5,000 payout #2)
      - Year 2-3 = $53,045 ($51,500 x 1.03%)
      Now it might not be the $60k/year they had in mind but it is a great compromise to keep both parties comfortable.
      If the Company Says Yes
      Great news! The company said yes! What now? Personally, I always request at least a full 24 hours to crunch the final numbers. In the past, I’ve requested up to a week for full consideration. Even if you know you will say yes, doing due diligence with your finances one last time is always a good practice. Plug the numbers into a spreadsheet, look at your bills and expenses again, and review the whole offer (base compensation, bonus, time off/sick leave, medical/dental/vision, etc.). Discuss the offer with your significant other as well. You will see the offer in a different light when you wake up, so make sure you are not rushing into a situation you will regret.
      If the Company Say No
      If the company says no, then you have a difficult decision to make. Request time to review the offer and crunch the numbers. If it is a lateral move (same position, different company) then you have to ask if the switch is worth it. Only due diligence will offer that insight and you have to give yourself enough time to let those insights arrive. You might find yourself accepting the new position due to other non-financial reasons (which could be a whole separate article!).
      Conclusion/Final Thoughts 
      When it comes to negotiating during the interview process, it is very easy to take what you can get and run. You might fear that in asking for more, you will be disqualifying yourself from the position. Keep in mind that the offer has already been extended to you and a company will not rescind their offer simply because you came back with a counterpoint. Negotiations are expected at this stage and by putting forth a creative compromise, your first impression is that of someone who conducts themselves in a professional manner.
      Also keep in mind that negotiations do not always go well. There are countless factors that influence whether or not someone gets a sign-on bonus. Sometimes it all comes down to being there at the right time at the right place. Just make sure you do your due diligence and be ready when the opportunity presents itself.
      Hope this helps!
    • By CocoaColetto
      Can I get in trouble for naming my game similar to one that's not in the same genre? For instance, if a game is named Playarada and I name my game Playarade, can I get in trouble? Be mindful that the games would be in two completely different genres. Thank you!
    • By DreamHack Activities
      3 Reasons Indies Should Apply for DreamHack's New Activities
      Coming to Austin June 1-3
       
      We're expanding our DreamHack events to encompass a "Gaming Lifestyle" approach. So basically we're bringing a ton of new content to the already massive show that focuses on Indies, Tabletop, Films, Students, Art, and more. Of course this means we're making everything we're already doing even bigger and more awesome such as Esports, LAN, Music, Expo, and pretty much everything else.
      The Top 3 Activities Indies Should Apply For...
      1. Indie Playground: The Indie Playground is a curated area where games entered into our competition before the event have a chance to win a complimentary booth to showcase their game. The selected games are organized into 12 genre categories that are reflected in the layout of the Indie Playground. Multiple titles are selected for each genre ensuring attendees will enjoy as many indie titles as possible. It's free to enter and those selected will score a FREE 10'x10' booth. We're pretty flexible on what you can send us. If you're not finished with your game yet you can definitely still submit. We've judged and accepted tons of unfinished video games, tabletop, etc. before.
      Entry form....https://tinyurl.com/DH-IndiePlayground
      Deadline: April 20, 2018
       
      2. Game Pitch Championship: The Game Pitch Championship was created to help build the skills you need to successfully get your product out there. Many developers are talented and either nail the build they have to show but don’t really nail the business plan or they nail the business plan and not the build. With a pitch, you have a short time to impress so you need to nail it all. This competition will not only help hone your skills with industry vets guiding your progress through the competition, but you’ll win accolades too. You could also win $2,500!
      Entry Form....https://tinyurl.com/DH-GamePitchChamp
      Prize: $2,500 USD
      Deadline: April 20, 2018
       
      3. Art Gallery: Exactly as it sounds, our gallery showcases some of the most amazing artists in video games, tabletop, comics, anime, and more. DreamHack staff select a number of works then we just print cool art on canvas for FREE—your game gets a slice of advertising while our fans enjoy a non-TV wall on the expo floor. It doesn't even require you to be onsite for the event, so this one should be a no-brainer.
      Entry Form....https://tinyurl.com/DH-GameArtGallery
      Deadline: April 20, 2018
       
      Good luck!! Reach out to sydney.mantrom@dreamhack.com for questions.
       

    • By Squid Networks

       
      Important links

      Website | Whitepaper | Onepager Facebook | Twitter | Telegram | LinkedIn
      SQUID token - SQWD

       
      Opportunity for early supporters
      We are now at stage where we are able to start making connections with game developers who would be interested in being a part of Squid Networks in the future, not only would you be guaranteed a place on the Squid Platform but other incentives such as SQWD tokens and have a say in how the platform work, as after all game developers are extremely important in the market.
      If you are interested in be apart of Squid Networks please don't hesitate to get in touch respond on this thread or email us:
      business@squidnetworks.io
      Learn more about what we've done so far


      Key developments
      Whitepaper version 1.0 is live - 05/04/18
      Video explainer is live - 10/04/18
    • By Alex Snyder
      My university class this term is prompting me to ask a few questions, and hopefully you guys could help me out. I'm supposed to crowdsource ideas and techniques on how to "sell" my prototype asset. For context, my prototype is a procedural weapon generator similar to the one used by the Borderlands series.
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Would You Like Fires With That? (Business Logic)

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I watched some business videos on YouTube, and learned a really good tip. Mc Donalds is a role model for business ideas. One phrase made Mc Donalds so much richer: Would you like fries with that? Imagine how many extra millions they made by adding fries to every order.

 

We all want to sell games right? How many people have sold 1,000,000? Imagine if you had of tacked on another sale. Another $2 sale would have netted you another $2,000,000 dollars, just for asking one simple question.

 

When you sell your game online consider offering a bonus to every sale. An in-game perk, a mini-game, a mod, a folder with all pre-game sketches. It really doesn't matter. Just remember to put a checkbox beside it, and let the customer decide.

 

Hope this helps.

 

If anyone else has business advice, I'd love to hear it.

 

PS: There  should be a business tips forum in the business section.

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I think that's how micro transaction works right now. It's highly profitable, yes. Well, regardless of how indie gamedev community hating micro transactions and all, there are always players who'll pay for it big if they really like the game.

Edited by Alectora

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Upsells like this in the software world tend to be things like "Install BonziBuddy for FREE!!!one" and have, as such, rightfully earned scorn from the typical consumer.

Bundle deals are considerably less annoying IMO, as long as the purchaser actually wants everything in the bundle.

I guess what I'm getting at is that bilking customers out of extra money may seem like Business Genius but it does have significant downsides. People aren't nearly as naive as the cynic in me wants to believe.

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Are you kidding, I think it's great. It's not bilking customers out of money, it's an extra offer. Is there something wrong with that? It's pretty sound logic. You don't have to take the extra if you don't want it. Nice of them to throw it in. Of course, I'm a money hound when it comes to making cash...

 

I'd throw in an pair of clean socks if I thought people would buy it ;)

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What do you guys think of this one? Affiliate Marketing. Have an affiliate link for your store, and let people with large ezines sell your product. Keep tabs, and give them a dollar off every sale they make. Great for indies looking to spread the word fast. Americans can make use of PayPal mass pay. Canadians would have to do it in a more managed way, as we don't have mass pay, that is unless your rich enough to have banking apis.

Edited by JeremyB

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"Its an extra offer" is a very awkward spot to stand on when customers look at your offer and say "Well why on earth wasn't that in the game I already paid for when I bought it in the first place?"

 

"Would you like fries with that?" works when you are selling burgers and fries. "Would you like a bun with your burger?" doesn't fly nearly as well when the customer expected that something like a bun would be included.

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Well, it would certainly have to be something that wasn't included. Some will take it, some won't. It could be an addon package.. or just a bunch of cool art. I'm not to worried about what customers think about what I sell, as long as they like it. That's why I wouldn't be afriad to do up some extra special side art, that's only in the package. If they don't add it, so what, if 10,000 do that's an extra 10-20k in my pocket. Who cares about nay sayers when it nets that much. :P Either get the extra super cool art, or don't, lol.

Edited by JeremyB

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