Where Studios Go Wrong - Paul Tozour | grokludo 2

Paul Tozour is saying exactly what the industry needs to hear right now.

After a 2023 that saw both revenue growth and record layoffs – not to mention an unusual number of critically acclaimed games – we're left wondering how we can simultaneously have the best and worst year for the games industry. Those layoffs look to be continuing through 2024, and while some of this comes down to external factors, a lot of it comes down to a failure of management.

Tozour has seen a few things. He's a veteran of Gas Powered Games, Retro Studios, and more. He's also had classical management training and says the games industry is sorely lacking in this type of theory, owing to its isolationist practice of promoting from within – elevating creatives out of creative work and not giving them the skills to manage people.

Backed with data from his 2015 study, The Game Outcomes Project, he knows what correlates with success in games studios. Now he's fictionalised the data in his new book, The Four Swords: A Parable of Leadership, Video Games, and Dead Dragons.

Tozour goes through his lessons for studios, publishers, managers, and creatives, able to definitively describe what leads to a successful studio and point to the data that proves it. In this moment of post-largesse layoffs, these lessons are even more important.

There are also plenty of wild stories from Tozour's time in game development, and these alone are worth the price of admission. In our discussion, he talks about the stories behind the stories.

Truth really is stranger than fiction.


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