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Interview with Benjamin

The Vice President of Top Games Inc., Benjamin Gifford, is primarily responsible for game design, marketing, and business strategy.

Benjamin Gifford explains how his team created such a successful MMO title.

Evony has grown from a modest flash browser game into one of the top 4X Strategy games on the web.

Typically, development teams focus on the idea of achieving perfection, and they won’t let something out in the marketplace if it isn’t 100% perfect. But Top Games Inc. realized that while understandable, pursuing perfection can often leave a game development team far behind the competition. That’s why Top Games has made excellence, not perfection, the ideal and primary focus throughout development.

Here Are The Details Of The Interview

How long have you been in this industry? And what is your impression of Top Games Inc. so far?

I’ve been in the games industry since 2009. Before then, I was involved with intellectual property commercialization with industry and universities.

What sets Top Games apart from game development peers is the focus not on perfection or being everything to everyone, but on excellence. Using data science to break through personal bias, and OKRs to stretch ourselves to become better, we opt to work on the things that can lead to the biggest impact on our players. The culture that David created is part of the uniqueness that Top Games offers our industry. Others can take the best parts of what we do for themselves, and hopefully raise the bar in terms of terrific game experiences across acquisition to retention.

What I like most about Top Games is that no matter where I might be in the world, the team can reach me at any time. We can collaborate and I can support them. If it’s important to them, then I’m a resource that’s immediately available.

What is your role in the company, and what traits should a game developer/marketing professional possess to succeed?

I do a bit of everything, from game design to marketing, business strategy, and more. Often if an issue has been identified, we create a Tiger Team, and I’ll be on that to work through the issue and create a solution to ensure that the issue stays fixed. To aspiring or current game developers and marketing professionals, I offer the following:

Focus excessively on users. Start with the end user as your main focus and work back from that viewpoint. By focusing on your end users first, and earning and keeping their trust, everything else will follow.

Move fast, but be responsible. You need to move fast and responsibly. Being fast allows you and your team to learn from experience, build more things, and ship solutions quickly to keep improving. Be efficient, so you can achieve product excellence. Take responsibility, so your end users will always be well covered and protected. Don’t fall into the trap of perfection.

Focus on impact. If you want to make the biggest impact, the best way to do this is to always focus on solving the most important problems. It sounds simple, but I think most don’t do this and waste a lot of time and resources. Challenge yourself and your team to become better at finding the biggest problems to work on.

Seek excellence, not perfection. The key here is to grasp loyal end users through product excellence. Continuously raise the bar and drive yourself to deliver high-quality products and services. Ensure that defects don’t get sent down the line and that problems stay fixed. Be dissatisfied with the way things are.

Do the right things. Make sure you have a clear purpose and values. Don’t do things to preserve yourself or your bias; do things to improve yourself and your team. And if someone sees something they don’t feel is right? Give them the power and ability to speak up.

How does Top Games Inc. develop talent?

Technology insights, product excellence, data science, and positive user experiences are the keys to staying relevant in the internet and metaverse century. And the key to product excellence is speed. We spend a lot of time, in the beginning, to hire only the best, ensuring those who might be great but not a cultural and values fit aren’t hired. New team members go through an Exploration Bootcamp, a training method our CEO David Guo created to empower creative instincts so that everyone can add to good service, design, and gameplay. It promotes critical thinking and taking innovative ideas within focus groups to test ideas in a controlled environment. By using OKRs, we encourage staff to stretch themselves rather than focusing on what they can normally deliver. This builds up the team’s capability by allowing staff to work hard on big challenges, fail often, fail forward, and by growing through those experiences, achieve excellence.

 What will be the next steps for Top Games Inc.?

Our CEO David Guo has developed a unique and powerful culture at Top Games Inc., and we want to leave that fingerprint on the game industry as a whole. We’re exploring opportunities to take Top Games Inc. to the next level in 2023.

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