Skybound Entertainment has announced the hiring of two new vice president-level employees who will be helping the company grow its game publishing business under the Skybound Games division (which most recently published Escape Academy in partnership with iam8bit Presents and is the publisher/developer of games based in Robert Kirkman's comic series The Walking Dead).
Joining the company are senior vice president of marketing Jason Covey and executive vice president of production Patrick Gilmore. Covey was previously chief marketing officer at Nifty Games, and spent time at game industry marketing standbys like Hammer Creative and Midnight Oil.
Gilmore's last role was as an executive producer at Visual Concepts Entertainment, 2K Games' branch dedicated to producing WWE2K games. Before that, he was studio head at Amazon Game Studios, and worked in business roles at Capcom, Electronic Arts, and beyond.
Skybound Entertainment is adapting to a changing world.
In a statement to Game Developer, Covey and Gilmore offered some context for where Skybound is headed next. Covey explained that one of the primary challenges in marketing video games lately has been "how quickly consumer focus evolves in terms of how they are engaging with content."
"Traditional media sources are still valuable, but fans get their insights from so many different sources now," he explained. "Someone once told me 'marketing done right should feel like content, and content done poorly feels like marketing, and NO ONE wants to feel marketed to.'"
It seems that Covey's team will be focused on marketing Skybounds' games to audiences by way of online content creators. He did add that he's excited for "the growth of web3," but didn't give any indication on Skybound Entertainment's plans for blockchain games or technology.
Gilmore was able to share his perspective on how Skybound is reacting to the production challenges that have come with the COVID-19 pandemic. "On larger productions, it's easy for game visions to diverge," he explained. "Five years ago, in-person collaboration was a great way to organically build alignment and harden a vision, but today we don’t have the benefit of casual office brainstorms, in-person showcases or ad hoc discussions to unify stylistic sensibilities."
He added that "most developers are actually more productive and happy working from home," so don't expect Skybound to force a return to the office any time soon. He said that to manage remote teams, the company is looking to create new team structures, lightweight documentation, and "clear project plans."
We quizzed Gilmore on how he's reacted to increased developer demands for better quality-of-life across the video game industry. "It doesn't sound ground-breaking, but I think the most important thing is to plan early how you're going to finish the game," he explained. "I see a lot of production plans that don't acknowledge the time it takes to fully test and address issues, or try to run polish at the same time as primary production."
Gilmore expressed distaste for the practice of QA "running in parallel" with a game's final content lockdown. He said that practice is built on the assumption that QA will have plenty of time to find and test all of a game's issues, even though no one on the team is available to fix them.
He said that Skybound has "pretty good documentation" of its final project phases, and the company works to translate those best practices into proper timelines for development schedule.