How to Outsource Your Game Development

As a well-paid developer in a country that has seen many jobs travel overseas, you wouldn’t expect me to be a fan of outsourcing, but I am. First, outsourcing doesn’t always mean the work goes offshore and, second, from a business perspective it can make sense.

The main driver is the diversity of our global economy. Developers living in countries where it’s far cheaper to live can, via the Internet, easily undercut Western developers, who have considerably higher expenses.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the economic conundrum presents opportunities for Western developers and investors to locate good people overseas and hire them to either develop software or sell their services online. Pay rates for Indian freelancers have risen over the past few years, and now the Chinese have entered the space, and now techs from several African nations are beginning to appear, as well.

Overseas Talent

A few years back, I took a small risk and got a lovely Flash widget created. I’d written a extremely detailed spec of what I wanted, then placed an advertisement on a freelance marketplace and got 36 replies. The quotes ranged from $50 to $5,000 (!). I shortlisted the group to ten by asking them to point me to examples of their work. The winner had a detailed and diverse portfolio, and did an excellent job.

That’s one of the advantages. But bear in mind that if you outsource your game development, be aware that you’ll be the producer, designer, investor, technical coordinator, tester and overall chore-doer. That’s a lot of work but there are a variety of freelance marketplace websites like, where you’ll have plenty of talent to choose from.

If decide to dip your toe in the outsourcing waters to help you build your online game, you’ll need:

  • A Web programmer with knowledge of HTML5, Javascript and CSS or Flash
  • A Web designer with knowledge of CSS and game art
  • A musician/sound person.

For each of these, you’ll need to produce a detailed spec of what you want. This is by no means an easy job, and you’ll have to provide your potential employee with enough details for them to give you a realistic quote and time frame for them to complete the work.

Please don’t insult any of these highly skilled people by asking them to work for nothing by promising a percentage of future riches or share options. It may be a tradition for artists to starve in a garret, but as a game development technique it leaves a lot to be desired.

6 Responses to “How to Outsource Your Game Development”

  1. James Green1

    “Please don’t insult any of these highly skilled people by asking them to work for nothing by promising a percentage of future riches or share options.”

    Employers/Investors have no problems asking highly skilled AMERICANS to work for free.

  2. Skilled

    The trade deficit gap with China and India keep on growing for merely because of mentalities similar to that of the writer of this article. The focus on short term profits while ignoring the long term effects on American talents can cause a serious damage on the morals of existing engineers and the career focus of our future generations. Computer science related degrees are losing their values mainly because of the fear of technology outsourcing. More importantly, the value for the outsourced property will also be in jeopardy because there is no respect to intellectual properties in Asia. there is good chance, that this 10$ an hour programmer will eventually pirate your code and distribute it for less than 5$. Add to all this is the prospect of future support from someone you will probably never meet again.
    The lasting affects and the long term losses of off-shoring outbalance its short term profits. Companies are starting to realize that in larger numbers, specially in key software projects.

    What strikes me the most is the location of this article. I thought Dice sole purpose is to promote american talents and jobs, and not to promote off shoring agendas.

    • Hi Skilled –

      Thanks for your comment. It’s true that promoting American talent and jobs is key to us, but David’s point is one I’ve heard from individual, independent developers many times. A lot of these folks have to make the choice of whether to build their product at all, or find the cheapest resources they can, wherever they happen to be. It’s a legitimate point of view, especially for individuals or very small companies. For them, it may not be so much about maximizing profits as it is about having a product in the first place, or sometimes even surviving.

      Thanks again,


  3. Im the author of the article and worked in a firm which when I joined had 7 developers. When I left it had 1 (apart from me) in the UK where I live and 10 in Shanghai where they’d setup an office.

    For US ( or UK) developers it’s impossible to compete with Offshore companies in bidding for work. They can always undercut.

    There are other ways to compete such as the one I’d suggested in the article. That applies to projects which can be software or websites. The US and UK developers still lead the world in being innovative. It’s just that the implementation work is done elsewhere.

    One big concern that I share with you is the loss of expertise through offshoring. Traditionally that knowledge was acquired by developers who eventually became managers and/or entrepreneurs with that expertise under their belt. Where will those managers come from?

    Think on this though: five years ago there were virtually no iPhone or Android app developers or Facebook app developers. Technology is always coming up with new things and developers flexible to embrace this can provide services well in advance of offshore companies.