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How Scopely delivered Yahtzee's mobile success with the help from outsourcing

How Scopely delivered Yahtzee's mobile success with the help from outsourcing

With the #1 dice game on iOS and Android, US developer Scopely was excited when the success of Dice with Buddies resulted in Hasbro interest.

The result of that relationship was that Scopely found itself with six months to develop the official Yahtzee mobile game.

The challenge was the game had to ship in the five EFIGS languages (English, French, Italian, German, Spanish), something it had not done before, nor did Scopely have the internal bandwidth to staff up another development team.

Talking at GDC Europe 2015 under the title How To Scale Development Without Increasing Internal Team Size, Scopely's director of engineering Justin Stofle explained how the company worked with an outsourcing company - Romania outfit Amber Studio - to deliver Yahtzee.

Oversight

Scopely spent a lot of time in pre-production to precisely scope out the project to ensure the outsourcer had a good idea of the work to be done and exactly how it wanted it done.

Because you're using an external team doesn't mean you drop quality.
Justin Stofle

It also providing them with all the tools that the US team used, although they didn't get the source code for the game's server.

"Because you're using an external team doesn't mean you drop quality," Stofle said.

"You have to be very precise in your communications and tell them exactly what you want."

Because "failure was not an option", Scopely over-managed the project to begin with, with six high level people in a daily 8am call with the outsourcer to ensure the project was of the required quality and on schedule.

But as well as focusing on the outsourcer, Stofle said developers also need to change their internal attitude.

"It is hard to get the internal team excited about outsourcing," he stated.

"It's not just about more work for them. You have to explain to them that with outsourcing, you can do more cool stuff with your game."

Working with buddies

Another key piece of advice is you have to have a strong working relationship with the outsourcer.

"If at all possible, you need to meet the people in person. You really want to see them face-to-face."

Indeed, since the game was released, Scopely has flown some of the outsourcers from Romania to US to train them more fully in terms of how they want them to work.

As well as being a successful project in terms of its outsourcing, the game itself was well received, generating 1 million downloads and 50 million turns within 4 days.

And Scopely continues to use its outsourcer, although now it also has an internal team. The two teams work on a four week update cycle, which is staggered by 2 weeks, hence resulting in an update to the game every 2 weeks.


Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

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