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» AnimationNation   » General Discussion   » Epic Announces China Outsourcing Division

   
Author Topic: Epic Announces China Outsourcing Division
Tobias A. Wolf
IE # 250
Member # 383

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From Gamasutra today:

quote:
As part of the CEDEC Premium conference at the Tokyo Game Show attended by Gamasutra, Epic Games' Jay Wilbur discussed the company's attitude to next-gen development, revealing the formation of Epic Games China to provide low-cost game asset outsourcing to both Epic and third parties.

According to Wilbur, one of the keys to Epic's carefully managed staff size is the way that the company has outsourced content. Epic's teams were claimed to be 50% or smaller on average than the industry norm, with Gears Of War's average team size over its development life listed as being just 30 developers.

Hence, Epic has initiated the setting up of the Shanghai-based division, which is run by a team responsible for content development at high-profile studios including Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Shanghai, reportedly including former Ubisoft Shanghai studio head Paul Meegan. The people behind Epic China have worked on titles in the Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six, and Ghost Recon franchises, and Wilbur indicated that Epic itself is outsourcing to Epic Games China for low-cost, high quality game assets, but it will also be available to other developers.

Why China for Epic, and why now? Wilbur explained that the cost per man month (including overhead) to produce games in North America is around $9,000, and in Europe and Japan, it's $8,500 per man month. But costs per man month in China are less than $4,000 - hence Epic's choice to keep its core team at Epic's NC offices, but outsource significant amounts of art creation for its games.

Wilbur, a former Id Software veteran who is currently vice president of business development at the Unreal Engine creator, also discussed the notable success of Unreal Engine 3's third-party licensing program in his talk, which was in many ways an overt sales pitch for the widely used PC and next-gen console game engine - but also provided some useful facts.

The Epic VP indicated that the average game project budgets for the PlayStation 2/Xbox game generation was $2 to 6 million, whereas the average budget for next-gen gaming can be $8 to 20 million. Noting that the average team size for the PS3/Xbox 360 generation is 60 to 80 people, he claimed that a combination of outsourcing and engine licensing enabled companies such as Epic to run at a much lower full-time employee base and cost.

Source: Gamasutra Industry News 9/22/2006

There is a rot in our executive class in the states as it pertains to the management of creative work across the board. And smart money should dive here. There is no historical precedent for large scale creative endeavors succeeding in the North American market for entertainment that have been offshored consistently outside the continent. None. Art is not manufacturing, it's by and large on the fly gut decisions made by those attune to forces ahead of and outside the market. And until the market learns that there are ripe opportunities for all. Small and large.

There's a reason why WDFA, Pixar, Dreamworks, EA, Marvel, DC, Henson have had the kind of success they have. It isn't rocket science. None of their core artistic products have been offshored in any major way. You can't offshore your vision, if you do your in trouble and your paying too many people too much that don't contribute to output. Bottom line, they don't add value. They don't produce.

As an investor I want production of product that can be sold. And if you can't find a way to employ people with a background in the largest entertainment market in the world to make your content at as many levels as possible, while others can, I'm going to bet against you.

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Floyd Bishop
IE # 183
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That's too bad. I know some artists at Epic. It will be interesting to see if the high quality they do themselves is matched by this unproven work force in China.

For anyone who doesn't know the Epic product, it's very high end.

Check out some stuff from "Gears of War":

http://www.gametrailers.com/gamepage.php?fs=1&id=1650

I was going to buy an XBox 360 and a copy of this title when it came out, but now I'm not so sure.

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Floyd Bishop
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Noogy
IE # 18
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Epic has some of the greatest talent in the industry, and their tech is top notch. I've had the fortunate pleasure of doing design work for them in the past, and you'll be hard pressed to find a more dedicated bunch.

As for outsourcing... most of my favorite games are already made in Japan, so I don't really see the problem. My money isn't really going to any one country.

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-Dean Dodrill

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