How to hire high-performing game developers
For Employers

February 15, 2024

How to hire high-performing game developers

The gaming industry is experiencing unprecedented growth, with the number of active gamers expected to surpass 3 billion by the end of 2023. As game studios strive to capitalize on this booming market, the competition to hire top-performing game development teams has intensified. Notable players in the industry include Sony, Microsoft, Tencent, Nintendo, Activision-Blizzard, EA, Ubisoft, among others. If you're looking to develop a mobile game and create a successful product, you'll need a brilliant idea and an exceptional team of professional game developers.

Global active gamers over time

This guide aims to assist gaming studios in assembling the best game development teams. Let's delve into the key steps to ensure your success in this ever-evolving landscape. Are you ready? Let's begin.

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The six key roles game engineers fulfill

In a game development team, there are six key roles that game developers fulfill, each playing a crucial part in the creation of a successful video game:

1. Project Manager:

The project manager ensures the smooth execution of the game development process, overseeing milestones, anticipating and mitigating risks, and coordinating communication between the development and design teams, as well as executives. Highly organized and possessing excellent communication and people skills, project managers play a pivotal role in keeping the project on track.

2. Game Programmers:

Game programmers are software developers responsible for the coding aspect of game development. They write code using programming languages to translate the game design into functional game code. Their responsibilities encompass a wide range of areas, including input processing, user interface, gameplay mechanics, scripting, artificial intelligence, game development tools, graphics, network and cloud integration, and game physics.

3. Designers:

Game designers are responsible for shaping the creative vision of the game. They collaborate with software engineers to ensure that the vision is feasible and can be realized effectively. Game designers establish the rules, narrative, gameplay, structure, and other crucial aspects of the game. Their influence extends to graphics, mechanics, user interface, characters, dialogues, and other elements of game development. Additionally, they work closely with level designers to craft engaging and immersive game levels.

4. Artists:

The artists, which include 2D artists, animators, and 3D modelers, are graphic designers who create the visual art required for the video game. They are responsible for designing the game's visual elements, such as characters, environments, weapons, and internal assets. Artists provide a visual framework and reference for designers to follow throughout the game development process, ensuring a cohesive and visually appealing final product.

5. Sound Engineers:

Sound engineers and musicians are responsible for producing the audio effects and musical score for the game. They strategically position audio assets within the game to enhance the player's experience. Sound engineers maintain a soundbank containing all auditory assets and work on voice acting for the game's characters, contributing to the game's overall atmosphere and immersion.

6. QA Specialists:

QA specialists, often referred to as game testers, are integral to the development process. They rigorously test the game to identify and report bugs and errors at every stage of development. By ensuring the game's quality and addressing issues before release, QA specialists play a vital role in enhancing the overall gaming experience and ultimately contributing to the game's commercial success.

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Skills to look for in game developers

That hinges on the kinds of games you want to develop. Here are the top tech skills appearing in game designer job postings based on Lightcast, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings across the country.

Console and PC gaming

  • C++: A fundamental programming language used extensively in game development for its performance and flexibility.
  • Level Design: The ability to craft captivating and immersive game levels and environments to enhance the player experience.
  • Epic Unreal Engine: Proficiency in using the Unreal Engine, a widely-used game development platform known for its high-quality graphics and versatile capabilities.
  • Adobe Photoshop: Skill in utilizing Photoshop to create and edit game assets, textures, and artwork. For further editing, consider using Adobe Express image editors.
  • Maya and Zbrush: Proficiency in 3D modeling and design software like Maya and Zbrush, essential for creating detailed character and environment models.
  • Art Direction: Understanding and implementation of the artistic vision and style to ensure a cohesive and visually appealing game.
  • Microsoft C#: Proficiency in C# programming language, commonly used for game development in Unity, another popular game development platform.
  • 3D Modeling/Design: Expertise in creating 3D models and designs to bring characters, objects, and environments to life.
  • Prototyping: The ability to rapidly create prototypes for testing and iterating game mechanics and features.
  • Python: Knowledge of Python programming language for scripting and automation tasks in the game development process.
  • Animation: Skill in creating and implementing character and object animations to enhance the game's dynamics.
  • Software Engineering: Strong software development skills to build efficient and maintainable game code.
  • Gaming Industry Knowledge: Familiarity with industry trends, player preferences, and best practices to create successful and engaging games.
  • QA (Quality Assurance): Understanding of quality assurance processes to ensure bug-free and polished game experiences.
  • Unity and Unreal: Mastery of both Unity and Unreal Engine is essential since these platforms are the industry standard and offer powerful tools for game development across various platforms.

Additionally, for those seeking to work with current-generation consoles like PS5, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch, it's essential to find developers who are familiar with the backend and specific features of these platforms.

Mobile gaming

iOS and Android dominate the phone and tablet ecosystem. These are the skills mobile game developers need:

iOS Game Developers

  • Swift: Proficiency in Swift programming language, used for iOS app and game development.
  • Objective-C: Knowledge of Objective-C, an older but still relevant language for iOS development.
  • Apple Ecosystem: Understanding of Apple's ecosystem and guidelines for App Store submission.

Android Game Developers

  • Java: Proficiency in Java, the primary programming language for Android app and game development.
  • Kotlin: Knowledge of Kotlin, a modern language preferred for Android development.
  • Google Play and Android Studio: Familiarity with Google Play Store and Android Studio, the IDE for Android development.

Soft skills

In addition to technical expertise, game developers also require essential soft skills to excel in the industry and stand out to game development studios:

  • Critical Thinking and Analysis: The ability to analyze complex situations and game mechanics critically, enabling developers to make informed decisions and optimize the game's design and functionality.
  • Creativity and Originality: A key skill for game developers to come up with innovative and unique game ideas, mechanics, and concepts that set their games apart from others in the market.
  • Reasoning and Problem Solving: Game developers must possess strong reasoning skills to identify and solve challenges that arise during the development process, ensuring the game functions seamlessly.
  • Reliability and Self-Discipline: Being dependable and disciplined is crucial for meeting project deadlines and contributing consistently to the team's efforts.
  • Resilience and Adaptability: The gaming industry is fast-paced and ever-changing, so developers need to adapt to new technologies and market trends while remaining resilient in the face of challenges.
  • Communication and Teamwork: As game development is a collaborative process, effective communication and teamwork skills are essential for conveying ideas, progress, and challenges to team members and stakeholders.
  • Lifelong Learning: The willingness to continuously learn and improve one's skills is vital in a dynamic industry like game development, where new technologies and trends emerge regularly.

Specialized skills

While technical expertise in game engines and programming languages like Unity, Unreal Engine, C#, C++, JavaScript, Python, and Java is critical, highly specialized skills can set developers apart:

  • Machine Learning and AI: As game companies explore incorporating artificial intelligence for creating smarter opponents and more immersive gameplay, knowledge of machine learning and AI becomes valuable.
  • Graphics and Visual Effects: Strong competencies in graphics and visual effects are essential for creating stunning and visually appealing games.
  • Robotics: As game technology advances, incorporating robotics in gameplay can lead to unique and innovative gaming experiences.
  • Passion for Gaming: Beyond technical and specialized skills, true passion for gaming is a deciding factor for game developers. Genuine enthusiasm and understanding of the gaming culture drive developers to create games that resonate with players and deliver exceptional experiences.
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US video game employment (Source: Statista)

Sourcing proficient game developers

When looking to hire game developers, there are several effective methods and platforms to explore:

  1. Game Development Communities: Engage with gaming forums and communities like r/gamedev, Kongregate, Develteam, TIGSource, Dream In Code, and IndieDB. These platforms attract game developers from around the world, making them potential sources for talent.
  2. Freelancing Websites: Platforms such as Upwork.com, Freelancer.com, and Toptal offer access to numerous freelancers with game development expertise. These websites allow you to review developers' profiles and find individuals suitable for your specific project needs. Keep in mind that quality control and skill assessment may vary on these platforms.
  3. Hiring Specialists: Consider platforms like Index.dev, Lemon.io, Arc.dev, or Turing.com, which specialize in sourcing and vetting developers. These platforms follow a rigorous process to ensure you hire highly skilled game developers. They focus on full-time contract engineers, not freelancers, and can quickly assemble dedicated game development teams with diverse expertise. Here are just some of tech talents you can hire : Project Managers, VR Developers, AR Developers, Unity Developers, C++ Developers, C# Developers, JavaScript Developers, etc. 
  4. Online Portfolios and GitHub: Explore online portfolios and GitHub repositories of game developers to assess their coding abilities and see their previous work.
  5. Referrals and Recommendations: Seek recommendations from colleagues and industry professionals to find game developers with proven expertise and a track record of successful projects.

How to hire a game developer: a step-by-step guide

Hiring a game developer requires a structured and thorough approach. Follow this step-by-step guide to find the best talent for your game development project:

  1. Define Your Game Development Needs: Clearly outline the specific requirements for your game project, including genre, platform(s), art style, gameplay mechanics, and necessary programming languages or technologies.
  2. Create a Detailed Job Description: Write a comprehensive job description with clear responsibilities, qualifications, and required experience for the game developer position. Specify essential skills like C++, C#, Unity proficiency, game engine experience, and knowledge of game design principles.
  3. Advertise the Job: Post the job description on game development job boards, professional networking sites, and gaming communities. Utilize social media and attend game development events to reach a wider audience. Consider partnerships with game development schools or programs to access emerging talent.
  4. Review Resumes and Portfolios: Carefully review applicants' resumes and portfolios to assess their skills, experience, and creativity. Look for relevant game development experience, a strong portfolio showcasing their work, and a genuine passion for gaming.
  5. Conduct Initial Screenings: Conduct phone or video interviews to further evaluate candidates. Ask questions about their game development experience, technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and teamwork. Assess their ability to communicate effectively within a team.
  6. Technical Assessment: Administer a technical assessment to evaluate candidates' game development proficiency. This can include coding exercises or mini-projects relevant to game development.
  7. In-Depth Interviews: Invite shortlisted candidates for in-depth interviews, exploring their game development knowledge and experience. Assess their understanding of game design principles, problem-solving skills, and creativity in designing engaging gameplay experiences.
  8. Portfolio Review and Game Testing: Request candidates to present their game development portfolio or provide playable demos of their work. Evaluate the quality, innovation, and user experience of their games. Involve your team or experienced game developers in the evaluation and testing process.
  9. Check References: Contact the provided references to inquire about candidates' work ethic, professionalism, ability to meet deadlines, and contributions to previous game development projects.
  10. Cultural Fit and Passion: Assess candidates' cultural fit within your organization and their passion for game development. Consider inviting them to a casual meeting or team event to gauge their integration with existing team members.
  11. Offer and Negotiation: Extend a formal job offer that includes role details, compensation, and other relevant information. Be open to negotiations and consider industry standards for game developer salaries.
  12. Onboarding and Integration: Provide a comprehensive onboarding process for the new hire, introducing them to the team, company culture, game development tools, and workflows. Assign a mentor or buddy to guide them through their initial period.

Hire high-performing game engineers through Index.dev 

To hire high-performing game engineers who are the perfect fit for your company and project, leveraging the expertise of Index.dev is a smart choice. Index.dev provides a comprehensive and efficient process to ensure you find the best talent for your game development needs.

✔Activity in the Market: Index.dev carefully assesses candidates' current availability and workload, ensuring they can fully dedicate their time and commitment to your project.

✔Industry Experience: Index.dev sources game engineers with substantial experience in the gaming industry, ensuring they are well-equipped to handle larger projects and have a track record of success.

✔Portfolio: Index.dev thoroughly reviews candidates' gaming industry portfolios to evaluate the quality and relevance of their previous work, ensuring they have the capabilities needed for your project.

✔Teamwork Skills: Index.dev examines candidates' teamwork and collaboration capabilities, ensuring they can work effectively within your team and contribute positively to the project.

✔Work Process: Index.dev ensures candidates' work processes align with your company's development methodologies, promoting seamless integration into your team.

✔Communication: Effective communication is vital, and Index.dev ensures candidates are responsive and capable of providing regular updates.

✔Guarantees: Index.dev discusses any necessary guarantees or agreements, ensuring your project's confidentiality and protection.

✔Pricing: Index.dev engages in a detailed discussion about pricing, considering factors like location, skills, and experience to provide cost-effective solutions.

✔Test Task (Optional): Index.dev offers the option of providing a test task to assess candidates' skills and problem-solving abilities, helping you make well-informed decisions.

By choosing Index.dev, you can confidently hire high-performing game engineers who possess the required technical expertise, seamlessly integrate into your team, and contribute significantly to the success of your game development project. Join satisfied clients who have experienced the efficiency and effectiveness of Index.dev's tech recruitment expertise.

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