Our company is our culture. We believe that it will ultimately lead us to make a significant mark in VR games – both in artistic excellence and technical innovation.
We are proud to belong to a tradition of “French Touch” designers and engineers, and carry the burden with light hearts.
Our core principles
Ikimasho’s culture is built on two core principles
We put developers first, players second (paraphrasing the inspiring Vineet Nayar). We believe that focussing our attention on our developers is the most surefire way to obtain a deeply meaningful experience for our players. The development teams create the value that the players then enjoy.
We apply the principle of subsidiarity. Everything we do, we break down into clearly-defined spheres of ownership that are handled at the lowest practical level and do not overlap. As a consequence, there is no place for interfering personal egos, ideas flow nimbly and efficiently across the entire studio, and decision making is clear and perfectly fluid.
Our cultural principles are reflected in our layered structure
The top layer that is closest to our players, the game-teams, own the games and serve the players.
The mid layer, the core functions, own the policies of each core competency and serve the game-teams.
The lower layer and furthest away from our players, the management team, owns the strategy and the culture and defends them every day in service of the entire studio.
We make the right games for the current VR market.
Right now, the market needs arcade games:
- They are easy to learn, which is what newcomers to VR and LBE operators are looking for.
- They are hard to master, which is what the current home-market of core early adopters expects.
- They offer short play sessions, which the bulkiness of current hardware imposes.
- Their limited scope – few gameplay mechanics that coalesce into deep gameplay – makes them cheaper to develop and to live-operate than content heavy games.
We make very controlled, very shiny diamonds. We believe game developers are craftsmen, and that players recognize and value craftsmanship. We make games with a laser-focused scope and an uncompromising level of polish.
If our games find an audience, we scale them to live operations.
We want the greatest number of players to enjoy our games, so we support most 6 DOF VR headsets + PSVR and our games require no additional hardware.
We make premium games only.
We are building Ikimasho for the long-term
We want our mark to be long lasting. To execute that ambition, we follow Kristian Segerstråle’s enlightening advice:
- we build teams that adopt and enrich our culture. Check out our jobs page to learn more about what kind of people we are looking for.
- we cement the studio’s competency around 8 core functions to become faster, nimbler and smarter.
- we develop IPs to leverage across our current and future titles.
We will always stay small
We believe small, autonomous teams in which ideas flow freely and decision making is effective make better games faster and create more value for our players than production behemoths slowed down by their very structure.
We believe that talent density will allow us to sustain and strengthen our culture better than if our staff grows too quickly.
In an environment of immature technology, immature market expectations, and immature distribution channels, it is vital for us to keep our burn-rate low.
Our core competencies
serve the game-teams
We have identified 8 core studio competencies that will assert Ikimasho’s ability to make its mark in VR games.
These 8 competencies are delegated to as many core functions. They are broad enough to be applicable across all the game-teams, and nimble enough so they can be adapted to and enriched with the specific needs of each game we make.
This is how it works: the head of each core function drives the policies of her sphere of ownership so as to best serve Ikimasho’s strategy. She passes these policies down to the members of her team who are embedded within the game-teams (as she might be, too). There, they implement the policies and complement them with custom solutions whenever necessary.
These are our high-level policies for each of our 8 core competencies.
Tech & Tools
In our medium, strokes of genius often are serendipitous. As a studio, our goal therefore must be to maximize our chances of creating happy accidents, which means limiting the friction of iteration to the bare minimum, allowing our creatives to try the riskiest and craziest things. More iterations mean more risk-taking and in return, more chances of genius striking and creating meaningful experiences for our players.
Our approach is creator-centric: our developers work themselves out of a job by developing a library of tools that allows the creators of each game-team (game designers, artists, sound designers …) to iterate faster and ever-more independently to make better, more polished games. And we keep our tools as generic as possible to create a studio toolbox that any game-team can tap into with minimal tweaks, to start building playables faster.
We develop an automated pipeline that allows us to adapt our games to the wide-ranging offering of 6DOF VR headsets and PSVR without proportionately increasing our production efforts.
We only work with Unity and look for the most striking new – even experimental – features to bring them to VR and thrust the medium forward.
Motion & Diegetic
This time around, the need for a new grammar and UX goes a lot deeper than when games last conquered new hardware: for the first time, the player is physically inside the world. And we see at least two major consequences:
- Movement becomes core to VR games and we research the fields of psychological and physiological links between motion and emotion to build more meaningful games.
- We build fully diegetic games and pay immense attention to UX and UI.
The power of VR is that, if designed right, it’ll make our brains believe the most amazing things. But for that to happen, we must go much further than traditional “environmental storytelling” into the realm of “world storytelling”, which encompasses just about every aspect of the game in service of the one emotion we are trying to convey. This is the key to building worlds our players will be longing to go back to for years.
Games go, IPs remain. We build strong IPs to leverage across our current and future titles.
We see ourselves as craftsmen, and QA is central to our ambition to produce very controlled, very shiny diamonds. Shiny translates into relentless bug tracking. Controlled relates more to gameplay. After our players, QA are the ones who know our games best and they are therefore fully integrated into the development process, with (play)test and feedback loops that keep them close to our designers.
Our beliefs in transparency and the free flow of ideas directly translate into how we interact with our players: in informing our players, we will always be honest about what we do and why we do it. We will never cover up our mistakes. And in live-operations, structured player feedback will weigh in on our efforts to drive our games in the most relevant direction.
Because current home VR consumers are core-gamers, we will go a step further and set up means for our players to regularly interact directly with different members of the game-teams.
We are building a centralized, unique CMS tool to manage in-game news, community tabs… for all of our games.
Core policies that guarantee a 90%+ CSat, like transparency, <24h response times, proper tone, language… will be defined within Ikimasho. Ticket management will be delegated to an external partner and closely monitored.
Customer Support will be involved in the design feedback loop, too, regularly compiling player feedback and feeding it back to the teams.
The trick in building long-term player value is to find the right balance between being both creatively led and reacting to data. The first part we humbly hope we address with our culture. The second part requires a strong and tailored data pipeline.
We will build a Plug and Play solution: each game will only need to implement tracking at the desired level of granularity (high level for new games, more detailed and complex for proven and successful games). The pipeline will take care of bringing the data automatically to our dashboards for analysis.
The in-game tracking will be developed in-house. Events will come from the game client (for every in-game event, like tutorial milestone, game-start/stop, etc.) and the game servers (for the back-end part, like session management, in-app payments, etc.).
The games market is not a global, homogeneous market, it is an aggregate of local audiences. To make sure we serve our audiences properly, we are setting a program of local ambassadors with whom we are in constant touch (see Community) and who give us a candid picture of their communities’ desires.
In VR, players live the game. And if our research in psychomotricity is well executed, they’ll look cool living it, too. And this makes for massively engaging video content to watch. Which is why our marketing strategy relies primarily on video and why we are building relationships with YouTube and Twitch content creators in key markets.
We are partnering with Antibody, Patrick Clair’s production company for our trailers. Patrick is the director of infamous opening titles for HBO’s True Detective and Westworld, Netflix’s The Crown, Marvel, Ubisoft, …
Steam page optimization is also key to our discoverability.
serve our players
At the very top of our studio lay the game-teams. Within Ikimasho’s broad editorial strategy, they have full ownership of their respective games. This means no-one can tell them what games to make, or how to make them. But they can always count on the flexible and unwavering support of the studio’s core functions.
In a game-team, ownership is as clearly defined and attributed as it is within the rest of the studio, with the same benefits to information flow and decision making (exact titles and role attributions may vary from team to team, depending on the team members’ areas of competency).
We believe in the unifying power of a clear vision. It is the product owner’s task to set it, to unleash the creativity of everyone on the team on that vision, and to harness their contributions into a coherent and meaningful whole. This allows us to limit production processes to the bare minimum, to be truly agile, and ultimately, to simply make better games.
Just like in our culture, there are only a few key principles that rule our life together:
We separate work from life: nothing at the studio is designed to blur that line with the disguised aim of making anyone stay longer than necessary. And face time doesn’t count. We encourage everyone to leave the office when they are done with their work.
In order to be able to free ourselves from most production processes, we need to have everyone sitting together. For that reason, we don’t do institutionalized remote work.
We believe it is our responsibility as an employer to provide our teams with ideal working conditions, like personalized hardware, a high-end ergonomic chair, offices in a lively Paris neighborhood… However, an employee’s personal comfort (i.e. headphones or a Spotify subscription) is their own responsibility.
We’re ranking and mapping out every restaurant of Paris’ little Tokyo, which is just up the street. By the time you join, we might just be about half-way through. Alternatively, you can spend your lunch breaks at the Jardin des Tuileries or the Jardins du Palais Royal, or get yourself some culture at the Louvre or the Musée des Art Décoratifs. All are less than a 3 minutes walk away.