VAN, 04:45 PM
VAN, 04:45 PM

2023 Wrapped: Room 8 Group Leadership Reflects on the Year That Passes

2023 Wrapped: Room 8 Group Leadership Reflects on the Year That Passes

As we bid farewell to another remarkable year, it’s appropriate to sum up all the goals accomplished and lessons learned, as well as look forward and share some expectations for the future. To summarize the essence of the past year for the game industry at large and Room 8 Group specifically, we spoke with key executives of the Group, representing various branches of the company, and asked them five questions. Here is their perspective!

2023 has been a turbulent year for the industry—what is the key emerging trend you saw that will carry on to 2024?

Anna Kozlova, CEO:

In 2024, we anticipate a market rebound, signaling a return to a stable growth path. However, the demand for production efficiency and business stability will persist. 

The driving forces behind this transformation will be technological advancements, notably AI, coupled with external development partners expertise and a commitment to efficiency. These factors will empower the industry to create an increased volume of high-quality content within the confines of the budgets.

Jeaneane Falkler, Chief Revenue Officer:

AI. We have been asked how we are using it in our own business and how we think our partners can use it. A lot of people are talking about AI; very few companies are ahead of the curve. Generative AI in particular has the potential to reduce time to market and increase margins for our clients.

David Lalonde, Head of Mobile Service Line:

When it comes to the mobile game market, the biggest thing this year was a huge shift in the overall mentality. In 2023, mobile games went from focusing on first-time experience and capitalizing on marketing to making long-term retention their focal point, capitalizing on the existing products that already had a market share.

For external developers like us, understanding the projects more deeply than ever and providing a long-term vision to the product for the clients was key, and this trend will carry on further.

Sergii Miroshnychenko, Head of PC/Console Service Line:

This year, we truly understood the importance of an active R&D strategy and relevant solutions in place. Having a continually updated internal library of reusable patches and code blocks, gathered through constant research, is invaluable for an external developer. Our current knowledge base has been massively upgraded in 2023, and we are ready to continue strengthening our expertise in the next year. Remember, 2024 is the Year of the Dragon…

Sandy Heslop, Head of CG, Heroic (by Room 8 Group):

AI is definitely the key word of the year. It’s developing at a rapid rate, and it causes a lot of worries. Still, when it comes to trailers, AI can’t yet make a complete quality project by itself—but we are just at the start of this journey. For the moment, we creatives are safe. I expect to see specific AI tools emerge first that will support the way we make trailers. I’m not expecting an all-in-one game changer, but you can rest on your laurels. It will be exciting to see what the future holds! 

Julien Proux, Executive Vice President of Art:

2023 has been a year of transition in the industry, this one more than the previous ones, marked by its unbelievable speed. The industry as a nexus between investment and tech has always been subject to cycles. This one, however, was unusually fast. AI developments, cloud computing, VR evolving as fast as they did this year is certainly a global trend worth everyone’s attention. The rapid changes may feel like a threat, true. We need time and capacity to properly understand and draw conclusion of any given changes. So, the best we can do is examine the changes, embrace them, and learn to be more mentally flexible than ever. 

Nick Burns, Head of Quality Assurance:

The mobile platforms becoming more powerful is definitely my pick for the key trend of 2023. More and more publishers introduce cross-play between not just PCs and consoles, but also implement mobile solutions. This year, we saw a larger-scale initiative to be more collaborative between all platforms, including a plethora of mobile devices. This, of course, will inevitably present a ton of compatibility challenges we’ll have to consider, but having this type of trials in testing is something our team looks up to.

Hunter Wright, Associate Game Director, Dragons Lake (by Room 8 Group):

This year, developers’ mental health should be the key focus. The thousands of layoffs across the industry and several high-profile game cancellations that we’ve seen have been a traumatic experience for so many professionals across the globe. Now more than ever, everyone is trying to make a game that really takes off, and it is inspiring to see that our studio has strengthened its ability to seamlessly join existing projects and take over maintenance of live service titles, while the internal teams start work on the new projects.

Robert Lato, QA Director:

My pick for the trend of 2023 related to quality assurance would be a rising interest in VR solutions. PC and console game development are stable as such, but we can see the QA industry getting a bigger foothold in VR space.

What were the key accomplishments and lessons learned for Room 8 Group this year? 

Anna Kozlova, CEO:

We always aim to bring more value to our clients year after year. That’s why, despite all the turbulence in the market, we launched two new service lines: Trailer Production and Quality Assurance. Both of them already have amazing projects in their portfolios and have received positive feedback from clients. We’ve also shifted our focus to R&D research, both in AI and development tools, which help our clients reduce production time and budgets. This year, Room 8 Group continued to grow. We’re proud to have worked on 311 titles this year, and the industry recognition of so many of them is the best accomplishment we could ask for.

Jeaneane Falkler, Chief Revenue Officer:

We captured 83 net new logos in 2023, which is an amazing achievement, as well as increasing our business with our current client base. Our win rate on extensions of work is also very impressive, at 91% of the number of extensions won—a testament to our delivery excellence. What we will be focused on for 2024 is developing stronger relationships with clients, positioning ourselves as partners vs. vendor, and creating a more customer-focused mindset.

David Lalonde, Head of Mobile Service Line:

At Solid Bash by Room 8 Group, this year we expanded our expertise and knowledge of how to establish development processes with some of the largest clients in the industry. 

Cooperation on pretty much every project we were involved with has been extended for at least a year, and the team is over the moon. We also did full cycle game development from start to finish, launched the game globally, and started LiveOps—all over the course of the year. We all did a great job. 

Sergii Miroshnychenko, Head of PC/Console Service Line:

This year, we have drastically increased the collaboration with the other Service Lines within the Group. With the further reinforcement of our creative team and strengthening relationships with our long-term partners, we have no doubt that 2024 will be successful for us all. I can’t be more proud of the team—every Dragons Lake manager is a true gem, and I love them dearly.

Julien Proux, Executive Vice President of Art:

This may sound dramatic, but the key accomplishment of this challenging year is the fact that we are still there, we survived. We are now a global player growing stronger, and we are ready to embrace the future. Enduring difficult time might bring some companies to freeze, stay the way they are, and focus on stability. I say this would be a mistake, leading to stagnation. You need to learn your lessons and become better, evolve and adapt to the new reality. Everyone at Room 8 Group is on board with this, and we are looking toward the future with dedication.

Nick Burns, Head of Quality Assurance:

For the QA team, our endeavor of exploring alternative engineering tools is one of the accomplishments we are happy with. This year, we started manual and automation QA simultaneously—which is a little nuts by the industry standards—but we succeeded and we can’t be more proud. In 2024, we intend to keep exploring new ways to do testing, maybe even develop a tool of our own to make this know-how more efficient. 

As for the lessons learned, considering the relatively recent launch of QA by Room 8 Group, we have seen the benefit of being a part of a larger established entity as opposed to starting from the blank page. So, having recognized art and co-development brands backing us up definitely helped us. Close collaboration between the service lines of the Group gives us an edge over our competitors, unparalleled insight into the market, and ability to provide top-notch boutique services to the clients.

On a personal level, what was your most memorable professional moment in 2023?

Anna Kozlova, CEO:

Attending game industry conferences, like Gamescom and XDS, where everyone knows what Room 8 Group stands for and is capable of, was undoubtedly my personal highlight. Being in the company of the top publishers and developers, feeling their approval and recognition, is just fantastic.

Jeaneane Falkler, Chief Revenue Officer:

I don’t think there has been one specific memorable moment. One of my first memorable moments was when I joined the company and got to hear first-hand feedback from clients about the quality of work Room 8 Group does across service lines and how much clients enjoy working with the teams here. Overwhelmingly positive and a great sign of our potential to grow.

David Lalonde, Head of Mobile Service Line:

Professionally, the most memorable moment was establishing a good relationship with one of our clients, Scopely. It’s a pleasure working with them, and our collaboration enabled the team to extend the portfolio, improve both our track record and LiveOps expertise. Also, while it’s not professional, my personal highlight is the birth of my son in October.

Julien Proux, Executive Vice President of Art:

My first Q&A with Vadim Kraevoy was really important and special to me. The fact that I’ve been trusted with leading this group of talented and passionate people feels rewarding, and the ability to work with specialists like these is why I love the game industry. Even when working in a storm, having a team like the one we have here, is great.

Sandy Heslop, Head of CG, Heroic (by Room 8 Group):

Getting several new opportunities (that we can’t discuss as of 2023) filled the team, myself included, with some genuine joy. Each trailer we release is a memory in and of itself, as we are so excited that other people get to see our work and progression across the year. The team getting recognition for their work is the best.

Nick Burns, Head of Quality Assurance:

The meeting with the team on my first day was excellent. Having a solid foundation to grow from is wonderful, and being able to collaborate with other service lines is really exciting. I am also proud that we’ve introduced new roles and opportunities for the testers to grow within the Group, addressing common and sometimes overlooked issues with the profession. As a QA Manager in the past, I want the next generation of testers to avoid pitfalls and pain points I had to deal with—so we are moving in the right direction.

Sergii Miroshnychenko, Head of PC/Console Service Line:

For me, each release of a game where our team was involved is memorable and touching. 2023 had a number of outstanding titles launched, and knowing that we were a part of them feels very special. 

Hunter Wright, Associate Game Director, Dragons Lake (by Room 8 Group):

For me, it was XDS. When you are a part of a global company with colleagues based on different continents, catching up in person is always a welcome experience. Not to mention a ton of great business opportunities with amazing clients that we landed there.

What is your personal pick for 2023 The Game of the Year among the games Room 8 Group’s brands worked on? Why?

Anna Kozlova, CEO:

We worked on many truly amazing titles this year. My personal pick is Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. Among everything because of stunning visuals in the richly detailed Star Wars universe.

Jeaneane Falkler, Chief Revenue Officer:

Alan Wake 2 for its engaging narrative and artistic quality. It’s one of many games that Room 8 Group worked on that has won numerous awards.

Sandy Heslop, Head of CG, Heroic (by Room 8 Group):

Definitely Diablo IV. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the fact that Room 8 Studio by Room 8 Group was a part of it only added to my experience. 

Sergii Miroshnychenko, Head of PC/Console Service Line:

There are a few titles Dragons Lake co-developed that were released this year, and each of them is praiseworthy. But, if I were to pick only one, that would be Lords of the Fallen. Everything about the game, be it the ominous setting, fantastic environment, or engaging gameplay, just clicks with me. We can’t share the details of what Dragons Lake did yet, but stay tuned for the case study in the near future!

David Lalonde, Head of Mobile Service Line:

I may be a bit biased, but among the many great mobile titles released this year, I would pick Redline Royale. Our team poured a lot of effort into making this game really fun to play, and we have some curious plans for 2024, too.

Robert Lato, QA Director:

Both quality-wise and based on the number of hours I spent in a game this year, my pick is Diablo IV. Having an opportunity to play it with my wife was so great, and, if I’m being honest, she was the one constantly asking me to play with her, not the other way around. I think we spent almost 200 hours in-game as of now.

Nick Burns, Head of Quality Assurance:

After seeing the launch trailer for RoboCop: Rogue City, I just couldn’t resist and pick any other game as my game of the year. Great job by the Heroic team on that one!

If you were to sum up Room 8 Group’s past year in one word or one sentence, what would it be?

Anna Kozlova, CEO:

Growth is challenging, but we are enjoying the game.

Jeaneane Falkler, Chief Revenue Officer:

Challenging.

David Lalonde, Head of Mobile Service Line:

A year of testing our maturity and leveling up as a company.

Julien Proux, Executive Vice President of Art:

Yet another transformative year.

Nick Burns, Head of Quality Assurance:

Evolving.

Sergii Miroshnychenko, Head of PC/Console Service Line:

Leveraging the true power of interaction. 

Hunter Wright, Associate Game Director, Dragons Lake (by Room 8 Group):

Resilience in the face of industry turbulence.

Sandy Heslop, Head of CG, Heroic (by Room 8 Group):

A challenging year for everyone—but we’re coming out of it stronger.

Previously, we shared our creative leaders’ reflections on the year that passes and an overview of the well-deserved awards won by the titles we were working on. 

If you’d like Room 8 Group to become a part of your next game, reach out to our biz dev team via the contact form!

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