Onshore, Offshore or Nearshore - Which is Best?
How to navigate and choose the ideal game developers for your needs
Is outsourcing the same as offshoring?
Outsourcing as a practice has always been there in the business world. If you’re a company, regardless of the business vertical in which you reign, you almost certainly didn’t achieve your success on your own - you worked with other companies that provide services necessary for you to succeed.
Here’s an example:
It’s long, long ago, and you are a seller of imported silk in northern Spain. You do all the advertising, sales talk, stocking the shelves, managing your staff. But, where do the goods come from in the first place?
You bought them from a regional distributor, who in turn uses a logistics company, who in turn buys them from a silk warehouse who stocked by a local textile company, who got the raw silk from a literal army of silkworms in Southern China…
You see where I’m going with this...
Yet, in recent times, outsourcing has become almost synonymous with offshoring, which it isn’t. Outsourcing is simply hiring an expert team to:
Provide a service that costs less than it would cost you to do yourself
Develop a product with higher quality than you could do yourself
Why is outsourcing such a prominent topic, and discussed over and over for the past few decades? According to Business Wire, it accounted for $333.7 billion in 2019, and is paced to reach almost $400 billion by 2025.
There are three main models of outsourced IT development (read: game development):
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Onshore is likely what first comes to mind when you hear it - you’re sending tasks to be handled by a company that is on the same shore as you are. This can be in the same country, province/region; often down to the same city you’re in.
The obvious pros and cons here might seem cut and dry if you’re a game studio or company that needs to create a game:
- Time zone issues are a nonissue for meetings
- Language barrier doesn’t exist
- Expensive -- often more so than in-house
- Might “rest on their laurels” such as past client work or conference awards
Yet, there are hidden pros and cons lurking in the shadows:
- An intimate knowledge of the local culture...
- ...and local trends in the market
- No guarantee that the final product quality will have the quality you need to keep building atop it
- Might start with strong resources then quietly shift to and use poor resources
- The company may be subcontracting to an offshore team and just an “onshore front end” to offshoring
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This can mean a couple of things:
- The company is in a different country, but same general time zone
- The company is in the same country, but the time zone might be significantly different
- For example, if you’re on the east/west side of a large country like the US or Russia, the company is on the other side than where you are
Nearshoring became popular especially in the Americas and Europe. In North America and Europe. In North America and Europe, you could find web and app developers in South America or Africa respectively working the same hours as you, just many miles to the South!
- Time zone issues are a nonissue or marginally challenging for meetings
- More affordable than onshoring
- Likely a language barrier
- Perhaps not a local culture/market intimacy
- Can’t keep very close eye on the project
- Takes less time to find an affordable game studio
- Perhaps does have a knowledge of the local culture/market
- Often more expensive than offshoring
- Product quality guarantee can be unpredictable
Nearshore game development firms often brand themselves as the “Goldilocks” of outsourcing options. They’re not so pricey that it’s prohibitive, and not too far away that communication is a major issue.
Yet, there’s more beneath the surface. If you have a clear-cut game design document, know which technologies you need to use (i.e. whether you need a Unity game developer or just iPhone app developers,) and top to bottom what it takes to create a game, then perhaps you may as well go entirely offshore.
In the same breath, if communication is key during the lifecycle of the project, and budget is a major factor, nearshore game dev might indeed be the Goldilocks to fix your perfect porridge hankering.
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The team you’ll work with is based entirely in another country (or countries.) Think of this option as almost always reversing the pros and cons of onshoring:
- Almost always more affordable than on/nearshoring
- Even top-tier, experienced firms can be within budget
- Time zone issue can be problematic
- Language barrier is practically inherent
- Hungry to succeed/beat out the competition
- Affordability means you can spend more on marketing & advertising
- Problems take longer to resolve whenever they crop up
- High turnover rates/project delays are harder to detect
At face value, it may appear that by going with an offshore team is simply paying less for a service of lower quality than the pricey one. However, that’s an oversimplification of the scenario. Of course, why pay more when you don’t need what comes with it?
In that case, if you need a niche service provided, or a simple game developed rather than a complex, graphics intensive game, offshoring might be your best bet. By saving your development costs, that makes more room for advertising, marketing, and future game development.
Now, we present you the hybrid model that Double Coconut uses, and why some of the best game companies and brands use us for their go-to game making studio…
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Admittedly, this term was coined by us at Double Coconut (clever, right?) to describe our operating model in the outsourced game development industry. So, let’s walk you through what it means and why we believe this model is the Goldilocks for outsourcing game software.
Omnishore means that our company is onshore, nearshore, and offshore all at once.
A shore bet indeed!
It doesn’t mean that we’re an offshore company that hired a token North American face to meet our clients in person where they are, email with them, and/or chat on the phone for a handful of meetings.
Nor is our US team just a VoIP phone number registered with a US area code, answered by a rep who can never meet you at the local large industry events when they occur.
Nor is this a local company with friendly sales staff that then silently subcontracts to offshore teams in a white label agreement.
So what is this?
Double Coconut has client-facing members and talent in both California and Eastern Europe, and accommodates companies everywhere in between. Some tasks require Silicon Valley User Experience or Branding know-how, which is a bit more costly, but can be absolutely worth it to compete in the gaming industry.
Yet, the vast bulk of engineering and art tasks are handled by our accomplished professionals in Eastern Europe. Additionally, our team is 100% in-house, not a separate entity that can one day just up and disappear. We share the same culture, managers, and act like a true crew.
Still, this section wouldn’t match the previous ones if it didn’t at least have a couple bullet points for pros and cons. While we can toot our own horn until the cows come home, Double Coconut prides ourselves on transparency:
- Remarkably less expensive than onshore companies for the bulk of development work
- No language barrier among team leads/client partners
- No time zone inconveniences for the client
- Knowledge of the local market/cultural trends and landscape, wherever you are
- Hybrid planning allows for project management and design to happen during the day in the U.S. and for development to occur at night, maximizing each day to its fullest
- Slightly more expensive than offshore teams
- Language/time zone remains a barrier if you need to talk with every single talent resource directly
- Difficult to just ‘get my people on the phone’ if want to micro-manage
So, which shore?
Of course, this is all up to you, the person in need of the best game making studio to bring your dream to life. Each option has its own merits and drawbacks, regardless of the shore and geographic cocktail hour.
Yet, there’s more beneath the surface than costs and time zones.
Let’s say you want a company in your time zone but most of them are beyond your budget. If it takes you weeks or months to find a team you can afford, was it worth that time spent to get up and running?
The best game companies are the best because they produce within the promised time and budget, and with a high level of quality. Perhaps onshore or nearshore would be worth the price tag, if it gets your game into the players’ hands sooner rather than later, helping you edge out your competition.
In the same breath, if you have a clear-cut game design document, know which technologies you need to use (i.e. whether you need a Unity game developer or just iPhone app developers,) and know top to bottom what it takes to create a game, then perhaps you may as well go entirely offshore.
If you’re looking for the Goldilocks of the bunch, well then, you know where to find her with boutiques such as Double Coconut. Get in touch with us for more info or a proposal.
© 2017 tor.com
Until next time, game on.