The co-founders of Decisive AI have all been involved in the software industry for many years. For Decisive’s president, that includes not one, but two successful startups in software as well. And while it is clear that the video game industry is part of the larger software industry, working with the video game industry has been an experience unlike any other in the realm of software.
Selling software, not unlike other things, is a bit of an art. Selling software to software companies is no exception, however, it is easier when both parties “speak the same language”. It is very important to have the same definition for certain key terms, to know what to expect during functional requirements gathering sessions, and to have a basic understanding of how implementations work. The alignment of expectations is the key factor that defines the success of a B2B partnership, and good communication allows that alignment to happen. When both parties “deal” in software, that communication is facilitated by having common ground.
A chief software architect once told me that for him, software is as close as one can get to magic. I find that to be a wonderful thought. And following that thought, software in the realm of Artificial Intelligence must be pure sorcery! Let alone when that AI software is used in the Video Game industry: high wizardry!
With all of this in mind we approached the video game industry and were not surprised by the first of three key patterns: ‘Need to see it, let me to try it out’. It is important to get and give demos, well and often. Our product is very hard to demo, so we overcame this step by creating our own game, Tournament of Dragons, in which we can easily showcase our Intelligent Artificial Players crafted through a combination of different Machine Learning techniques. These are very hands-on and technical people that need to understand how the magic works. They are magicians in their own right and will appreciate quality and value hand-in-hand with that understanding.
The second pattern we encountered in the industry did surprise us a little bit: ’Need to meet you’. Things will move forward many times more easily if we meet our prospects face to face. This is not new nor is it by any means unique to this industry. However, we were surprised by how many usual barriers and obstacles were overcome with relative ease when the encounter was in person. Now we have learnt to really appreciate this need and embrace it fully, booking ourselves in the most business conducive conferences in the world, like GDC and MIGS.
Third and last, but not least, is the ‘Need to know you a bit better’. This aspect has a profoundly human characteristic to it. In theory, we all understand very well that trust is an essential aspect of any successful partnership, however, here it materializes in a more informal way of connecting and communicating, getting a sense of what “makes one tick”. As an example, two of our customers whom we met in person and demoed the product had a very technical itches that needed to be scratched before signing. This is all normal, but the interesting thing is that they both commented, on completely different occasions, on the personal connection that they felt was necessary before they signed the contracts with us.
This shows that this is not just a pattern we’ve noticed, this is a conscious effort to connect and build trust in a more human way. After all, these companies might be software companies, but they are in the business of fun entertainment. As part of this industry, we are now more aware of the importance of establishing human/business connections and developing an acute awareness for what makes people tick, which is key to providing Intelligent Artificial Players that are fun, fair, and challenging, in video games.