Do you love video games and feel that you can make a career in this field? Then you must seriously consider becoming a product manager!
It is one of the newest to have opened up in the gaming industry and is a result of the rise in free-to-play online games. Considering that the gaming industry has topped $159 billion in revenue, there is a lot of scopes to kickstart your career as a product manager in this sphere.
What is a Digital Game Product Manager? And What Do They Do?
The definition of a digital game product manager is no different than the definition of a product manager. In their case, the game is the product, and they have to take care of everything from conceptualizing to executing the video game.
Plus, you get to play the game so that you can improve it further. So you basically get paid for playing games!
As a product manager, you will be responsible for competitive analysis, content management, and data analysis that are in line with the business goals. Thus, the primary job is to create a robust strategy involving all these processes.
How to Become a Product Manager in the Gaming Industry?
Fortunately, regardless of your educational background, you can stand a chance to make a career as a product manager. However, if you happen to be SaaS Product Manager, Game Producer, or Game Programmer/Designer, you will have a better chance of getting into this stream. Furthermore, being an avid gamer can tip the scales in your favor!
With that out of the way, here is an elaborate step-by-step guide on how to become a product manager in the gaming industry:
1. Watch Out for Opportunities
If you are hunting for jobs as a product manager in the gaming industry, your professional networks is a great place to get you started. Connect with others over LinkedIn, open houses, and gaming events to get to know about any openings in your area of interest. Alternatively, the tried and tested formula of browsing through career websites may also give you a few leads.
If you have prior experience as a product manager, then you already have the upper hand that will allow you to get your foot in the door.
2. Prepare for the Interview
The interview for a product manager in the gaming industry would naturally be much different than that of a regular product manager’s interview. Hence, prepare accordingly.
Start by reading up on the company, understand their process, and get an overview of their products. During the interview, speak about your past experiences and achievements that make you the perfect candidate for this role. Follow a Problem-Action-Result flow to illustrate your problem-solving approach and process.
Avoid overtly displaying your passion or gloating about your high score, and stick to showing your knowledge.
3. Getting Started
Once you have managed to bag the job of your dreams, you now have to work with a single-minded goal – to please the customer. Connect with your developers, designers, and even your audiences to decipher what has historically worked for the company.
You need to establish effortless channels of communication between all teams and parties. Monitor the product development progress to ensure that all features are available within the set deadlines, and communicate these to the business executives and investors. Your active involvement at each step of the product development is crucial for the product to be a success.
4. Identify the Challenges
One of the biggest challenges that game product managers face is the diversity of interaction. On the one hand, you are communicating technical specifications and design codes, and on the other hand, you will be discussing features and gameplay.
Hence, you will have to strike the perfect balance. Learn how you can negotiate and mediate between the developers, business partners, and other stakeholders.
One of the parties will have to compromise at some point, and they might not be happy about it. However, as long as everything sticks with the business mission, you are good to go.
5. Keep Learning
The gaming industry is highly dynamic. There are several trends that will drive or stunt the growth of the organization.
Hence, keep an eye out to identify these trends and capitalize on them when the opportunity strikes. If possible, get the hang of the technical side of game development as it will make it easier for you to coordinate with the developers.
Learn through social listening and KPI metrics as they are the true reflection of how well or poorly your product is performing in the market. At the same time, crawl through gaming forums and platforms, which will help you analyze the game’s performance. Most importantly, avoid taking criticism personally and use it to refine your product.
6. Observe Your Competitors
While monitoring all the activities within your organization is vital, you should also watch what your competitors are up to. List down your competitors and check out what they bring to the market, their product development, and marketing strategies, and how it sets them apart.
Are they focusing on mobile gaming? Conduct market research on the scope for making the switch and assess its feasibility to propose something similar!
Are they promoting RPG games over their other products? Understand the thought behind this strategy and reframe yours accordingly.
How Much Does a Product Manager Make?
According to Glassdoor, the product marketing manager salary averages around $105,890 in the United States. This figure varies depending on the location of the company. Further, considering that the role of product managers in the gaming industry is still in its nascency, you may draw a salary that is more or less, depending on the company requirements.
For gaming enthusiasts, a job as a product manager in the gaming industry is a dream come true. It allows you to develop games that you may have envisioned as a gamer.
However, as a product manager, every game that you envision or play must come under your critical lens. Ask yourself questions like, “What makes this game a hit? What do gamers like about it?
How can I increase player retention? How can we get them to spend money on our games?” Soon enough, you can fast-track your career on the path to success!