When I began making games at the age of 13, publishers quickly took an interest and there was clear mutual benefit: they would distribute and market my games, while I would be paid royalties on them.
Of course, I didn’t start making games to make money. I did it because I have always loved games and I wanted to contribute to the medium. But the more people enjoyed my games and the better they sold, the more royalties I would receive – thus giving me even more incentive to keep creating better and more successful games. This loop of mutual reward formed the foundation for everything that followed in my career, and it’s still fundamentally how I believe game development should work.
In the early years of Kwalee, I wanted to recreate this dynamic but there were many variables. One key aspect of this was to unleash the creativity of staff, and we quickly hit upon the idea of dedicating Wednesdays to working on personal projects. I was also very interested in implementing some kind of profit share scheme for our team, but it wasn’t clear how exactly these two could relate to one another while engaging everyone on the team.
After a few iterations of the Kwalee profit share scheme, we hit upon a version in late 2018 that we all remain very happy with. This is the version that, as we announced in February, has paid out more than £1 million between all staff members in just over a year.
Getting there required some serious thought about the kind of workplace we wanted to build at Kwalee, and those Wednesdays of prototyping and free idea generation became central to it. Christened ‘Creative Wednesdays’, we established this as a weekly opportunity for everybody in the company to pitch their ideas before the entire company. For it to be as effective as we knew it could be, we needed everyone to know that their ideas would be heard. We also needed to show that we had full faith in this system, which is why nearly every Kwalee-developed game has emerged through a Creative Wednesday pitch.
Developing a profit share scheme in this context was simple, then: why not reward those who pitch and contribute to the most successful games, much like the publishing deals that allowed me to gain a foothold in the industry?
But although that principle remains close to my heart, I also understand that the industry has moved on a lot and that there are major differences between motivating yourself as a bedroom coder and motivating an entire studio of diverse individuals. This is why we decided that while those who contribute to successful games are eligible for a percentage of profits from said games, every single employee is also eligible for a base quarterly chunk of our overall profits.
Because of course, there are many factors involved in creating successful games and we know that everyone at Kwalee, from the admin team to the developers, plays a crucial role. It is only right that they are rewarded as such. I’ve loved hearing about the things this money has enabled our team members to do – from dream weddings, holidays and house down payments to state-of-the-art gaming setups and countless Pokémon cards. It really builds the environment we always wanted to create with Kwalee: one where creativity thrives and is rewarded.
Seeing how happy and motivated our team is confirms to me every day that this is the right thing to do, and the proof is in the pudding; Kwalee’s most successful ever period has coincided with the rollout of the scheme, during which time we have roughly doubled our headcount.
I’d now struggle to imagine working in an environment where not everyone has a stake in what we create, and I know that many of our team feel the same way.
Kwalee has a number of open positions, with all new starters eligible for all of our benefits, including the chance to pitch in Creative Wednesdays, quarterly team events and our profit share scheme. You can see all our vacancies here.