Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Advice to a Young Game Developer from an Old Industry Veteran

Got this question today and thought it may be of benefit to someone.

A friend of mine landed a contract position and now they have been offered a new, better, position at a NewCompany. They WANT to stay at CurrentCo, but their boss cannot commit to a full time position. Since their game is about to ship, it makes it even harder to decide to stay because, well, CurrentCo is going to experience a Reduction in Force. Adding more complication... they have only worked at CurrentCo a couple of months, but they have been excelling in their job and people have noticed. 

Will they lose their CurrentCo job no matter what? Who knows?

NewCompany is regular full time. Plus some benefits. 

Here's what I sent them and what I want you to critique. This COULD be bad advice in the current state of the industry. What do YOU think? 

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It is a good problem to have. 

The balancing act is:
  • Do I have stability (a joke in the game industry)
  • Have I worked at CurrentCo long enough to make NewCompany feel comfortable hiring me? 
  • Will NewCompany offer better benefits (including stability)?

I think you're in a situation where:
  • You don't feel stable
  • CurrentCo cannot offer stability
  • NewCompany sounds good (and for purpose of the reader's perspective, both companies are large and have existed for a long time, making them about equal in COMPANY stability). 

When I was at a LargeCo, I got a job offer I really couldn't refuse from SmallCo. Better money, better lots of things, including that "stability," because I had just finished a big game and there was no commitment to another project for our team. Finally, LargeCo couldn't / wouldn't match the money / compensation SmallCo had, so I left with a clear conscience. I broke no commitments with LargeCo.

To do that, I had to, essentially take the SmallCo job, with SmallCo knowing that I was going to take my offer back to LargeCo and see if they would match it. This worked because the person I was negotiating with at SmallCo knew he was going to have to give me more than LargeCo and, well, he and I had worked together before and he knew I was worth the hassle.

So... can you get the new job and then try to leverage it at CurrentCo? Hell yes. Go land it and take that fact back to CurrentCo. If you've told your boss that you don't have stability and the new job provides it, well, they can make you a full time offer or you can go to your new job. If CurrentCo makes you an offer, tell NewCompany that and keep your gig at CurrentCo. 

There are other factors at play here, too. Your job at CurrentCo could end abruptly. Especially since they are shipping a product. At the end of products, that's when the management has to decide who to keep / fire. Lots of factors there, and one of them that you can't do much about is "Last Hired; First Fired." It's hard to swim that far upstream to best people with years behind them. Because a full time hire will likely mean that they'd have to lose someone to get you in the regular full time category. 

Lots to think about here. 

But if you're looking for stability, that's the real leverage you have with CurrentCo to make that move and feel good about it. 

If you're looking stay and be part of the CurrentCo family... you may have to take the risk and hang out until you get converted or fired. 

Good luck in your decision. 
bjc

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