What Is Game Co-development? – An Introductory Guide

What Is Game Co-development? – An Introductory Guide

The video game industry continues to grow at an unstoppable rate, and this trend will continue for several years to come.

Indeed, according to a report from GrandViewResearch, total revenue will be around USD 580 billion by 2030, owing to factors such as new technologies, studio innovation, smartphone proliferation, and growing interest in online gaming, among others.

But this growth also means that consumers want more and better games; they want more extensive, more complex, and richer experiences. This is not an easy challenge for many development studios to take on.

The solution?

Co-development studio and co-development games.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is game co-development?

As the name implies, it’s a cooperative agreement between development studios in which a central company uses co-development services offered by other smaller and more specialized companies.

These secondary studios typically take on one or more specific development tasks throughout the new game’s development cycle. This may include creating art and models for the game, translations, porting to other platforms, sound, etc.

What differentiates co-development is that it corresponds to a working model based on close collaboration and cooperation in which there must be effective coordination of efforts to successfully complete the project at hand.

The importance of game co-development

As previously mentioned, as the video game market gets bigger – and along with this, the demands of gamers – the need for more resources, human talent, and more efficient work methods by the developer companies also increases.

Game co-development is key to allowing core development teams to expand their work potential with greater ease and efficiency, not only on a technical level but also on a creative level.

It’s important to remember that video game development is a complex process that requires highly qualified labor.

Nowadays, the existence of development studios focused on co-development is now an essential factor when it comes to working on an AAA project, and without this, even the biggest game producers could have complications in their future work.

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Indeed, game co-development is becoming the norm for many studios since, without this resource, they wouldn’t be able to cope with the growing consumer demand for high-quality games – something closely related to new technologies and innovation.

In many cases, even a company that has started a solo project commissioned by a third party may require the immediate integration of another team midway through the development cycle to expand the possibilities of the project or to satisfy customer requirements.

Co-development studios are able to immediately facilitate this integration and coordination so that the work doesn’t stop but rather continues to flow as planned.

Based on this, game co-development provides several benefits that are key for development companies:

  • The rapid expansion of core development teams as needed
  • Immediate integration of qualified personnel to work in specific areas
  • Increased technical and creative capacity
  • Increased productivity and potential shortening of the development cycle
  • More likely to deliver a polished and attractive final product both for the consumer and the client

Among other benefits.

How does co-development work?

Co-development studios can specialize in a wide range of disciplines or just a couple. This may include specialties such as programming, graphic design, modeling, sound, etc.

A core development studio will need to establish its needs based on the project at hand and research to determine which co-development studio is best for them.

Naturally, costs will vary depending on the specialties offered by the studio, although other factors may also come into play, such as the previous experience of the studio and the type of work relation offered, whether dependent, independent or semi-independent.

As an example, a co-development studio may specialize in 3D modeling. The central development studio will contact the co-development studio and agree on the way of working and the type of tasks that need to be done.

Communication and coordination will be key factors for the success of the project. In many cases, it isn’t simply a matter of delivering a series of 3D models but of creative work and a series of strategic decisions that both of the studios need to coordinate.

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For example, in the case of games that must constantly offer new digital assets that players can download based on certain factors, it is necessary to plan in advance when, how, and why.

On the other hand, the reputation of a co-development studio is also essential since, in cases where technical details about proprietary technologies must be shared but must also remain well protected, trust becomes a fundamental factor in avoiding misunderstandings and stagnation in the development cycle.

Basically, co-development teams become an extension of core development teams, so co-development studios usually have secure and efficient communication protocols to streamline work between the different departments involved in the development process.

Although all this seems complex, simplicity is a factor we can see more and more present in the protocols of co-development teams, and the variety of communication and teamwork technologies available today make things increasingly easier for game development companies.

The future of AAA game development is co-development

Due to the inability of core development teams, many great projects under development that promised to revolutionize the industry with amazing gaming experiences ended in absolute failure.

For the success of large projects, development teams must be prepared to adapt to circumstances as they arise since the video game industry is based on technology, and this advances very quickly.

These sudden changes can fatally impact deadlines when the core development team simply doesn’t have the capacity to respond to new demands in a timely manner.

Although large development companies can adjust to these changes, many other companies simply cannot afford the lack of capacity to respond to these unexpected situations, so the option of having an external team that can contribute to the safe progress of the project while also offering added value, ceases to be an option and becomes a necessity.


Yuriy Denisyuk is Game Production Lead at Pingle Studio. He’s responsible for successfully managing the Game Production pipeline. Yuriy is this lucky person who plays the best games for work in order to keep up with trends and create new ones. He likes writing and reading Manga, fantasy, and professional literature in his free time.

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