Games Before Profit

Celebrating the core value at the heart of Lo-Fi Games

Lo-Fi Games is a games-first studio. This means that before profit and ratings, before fan-art and fancy dinners, we have a very, very, very good game. And in order to make a game that is up to the standard that our players, and developers, deserve, we’re driven by a set of core values that will absolutely, unequivocally get us there. 

For these last few months, we’ve been celebrating those values internally, but today we’re airing them out to the world! Our first value: Games Before Profit

What this means to us

Games Before Profit underscores our very purpose as a company; it means we prioritise a solid creative vision over predatory monetisation practices, lazy design shortcuts, and selling ourselves out to chase the next trend. It’s easy for a company to say “we don’t care about money,” but the proof is in our books. We’ve sold a grand total of 0 armour skins, 0 weapon packs, and, roughly, 0 battle passes; we’d never let monetisation get in the way of a complete, well-crafted experience. It’s worked out for us so far!

Games Before Profit is the same reason why we’ve previously said that Kenshi 2 is “ready when it’s ready”. The success of Kenshi and generous support of our players has kept us unbeholden to investors in suits, keen to tell us when our games should come out, and what they should be. We embrace this freedom as our strength; the freedom to deliver a game up to our own standards, and beyond our audience’s expectations.

Recognition over Revenue

It’s absolutely incredible that 2.3 million people have bought Kenshi, and that we’re at a 95% positive review score on Steam; it makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside! 

But units and review ratios aren’t our biggest drivers. Our measure of success is playtime, and our top 10% of players have clocked up at an average of 500 hours of gameplay. To make a game worth spending that amount of time in: that’s our goal. If everything goes according to plan, Kenshi 2 will have 80% of players averaging 1000 gameplay hours, with a 0.01% drop in global productivity.

Game Values

It’s easy to say ‘make a great game!’, but how exactly do we stay on track to get there? How do we stay true to our original vision? It’s crucial that everyone across every aspect or our game development is on the same page when it comes to what our priorities are and what they mean to us. 

This is where the Game Values come in, our very own list of Lo-Fi commandments:

Gameplay comes first

But what does this look like in practice? Let’s take our character creator (which is capable of creating some interesting people shapes) – we might have a situation where the art team isn’t realistically able to make a certain piece of armour fit on every possible character without some clipping occurring. 

Instead of abandoning said armour, restricting our character creator, or restructuring the company to be entirely focused on cloth physics, we’d recognise that this is a situation where the gameplay comes first, as we’re not wanting to limit the player. Game development is a balancing act, but when we’re forced into making hard choices we’ll always err on the side of the player’s experience. Sorry cloth physics lovers!

What we’re doing to implement this 

It’s important that our team members know they matter as people, that they’re not just skin for the peeler machine. As such, the focus of our latest all-team meeting was on discussing our values, opening the floor to discussion, critique, and celebration. We keep company communication open across departments: our localization team sees our concept art, our audio team sees our narrative discussions – no one gets left in the dark!

To further this end, we’ve set up a computer where staff can stream the latest version of Kenshi 2, at any time. We also do regular company-wide streams showcasing the game’s latest features to help keep everyone excited, show-off our different teams’ victories, and prove we are, in-fact, well on our way to a finished and good video game.

In the spirit of finishing a good video game, we also ran a workshop for our team leads that focused on our Games Values. We discussed the ins and outs of what these mean to us, and how to better integrate them into our teams’ workflow so that we can stay on track to make Kenshi 2 even greaterer.

Up next

Much like this blog, the workshop was the first step of a long-term plan to hammer out our most critical objectives. Values are just words on a page if you’re not actively putting them to practise, and for a company that values integrity above all else, well, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. Watch this space for what’s to come!

 

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