In May 2016, Shadowgun developer Madfinger Games appointed Miguel Caron as its new Studio Head.
He’s previously worked in leadership roles at Carbine Studios, Behaviour Interactive and Funcom Games Canada, but left North America last year to spearhead a new era for Czech Republic-based studio Madfinger.
Since his appointment, it’s been a hugely busy period for the developer. It’s had a major hiring spree, recruiting 54 staff from around the world, doubling the size of the studio.
There’s also been changes to company processes, the implementation of a new profit-sharing scheme, and the studio is gearing up for the launch of its latest title, Shadowgun Legends.
But it’s not just all change at the studio, it’s been a big year for Caron himself too.
“Personally, it’s been about changing from Canada to the Czech Republic, PC to mobile, cold weather to hot, cycling to work instead of driving,” Caron tells PocketGamer.biz.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love change, I absolutely thrive on it, although at the age of 44 I’ve learned that it takes more work to adapt.
“It was a big change for my family too, but we love our new life. We’ve found our home in Brno with the Czech people, whose culture we adore. The Czechs are all about live and let live, which is one of our family mottos.”
As the incoming Studio Head, Caron was given a number of key goals to achieve. These included tying together its games more closely with the Madfinger brand, hiring new staff, improving the studio’s efficiency and maintaining an independent company culture.
In the last year, each team at the studio has gone through various changes to their processes and received tool upgrades.
Caron has also implemented a special annual strategic planning session to provide a “precise and detailed plan” for the following year, defined by five “WIGs” (Wildly Important Goals).
We pride quality over everything and we are first and foremost a developer studio, not an executive or marketing one.Miguel Caron
Despite the various business goals Madfinger has, Caron is adamant the most important thing for him is to have the right cultural values built into the core DNA of the team, which runs on a developer-first mantra.
“We pride quality over everything and we are first and foremost a developer studio, not an executive or marketing one," says Caron.
"Everyone who isn’t a coder, artist or designer works for the devs - including me - not the other way round. I like to say that the devs are the value, not the executives. I’m only the gunpowder but the devs are the actual bullets. Without them, I just make a lot of noise."
He adds: "You’d be amazed at the amount of additional revenues we’ve turned down, simply because it’s not in our mission statement to make anything other than incredible games.
“My biggest challenge was to add a level of structure so we could grow the studio effectively for the Shadowgun Legends launch without any of the usual corporate culture pollutants. Our devs are very experienced and are completely allergic to corporate bullshit.”
One of the most interesting changes Caron has implemented at Madfinger is its profit-sharing bonus plan.
Something he says has been on his “leadership bucket list” for a long time, the scheme is aimed at effectively turning employees into acting shareholders with uncapped bonuses. The first pay-out from this initiative occurred in May 2017.
From our quarterly profit we share a significant fixed percentage with all our employees.Miguel Caron
“It works like this: we do our audited financial statement every three months, and from our quarterly profit we share a significant fixed percentage with all our employees,” explains Caron.
“It’s an ongoing bonus scheme with no cap on the amount each employee can make from it.
“Looking forward, we can easily foresee that our profit-sharing bonus plan could make our employees financially independent, or at least very comfortable. And why not? The founders are totally happy with that idea.”
Looking ahead, the studio’s main focus right now is the launch of its latest game Shadowgun Legends.
But the Madfinger founders also had another mission: to have three games at different stages of development on the go at all times, with one new release every year.
“Once Shadowgun Legends is launched, we will have achieved this vision of the founders,” says Caron.