The Project Manager, is the task of ensuring the successful delivery of a game, on time and within budget.
Project managers control the financial and other resources needed for a project and co-ordinate the work of the production team, making sure that the quality and vision of the game is maintained, whatever problems may arise. They understand everybody’s contribution to a game and keep an overview of the entire process from start to finish.
The role of a Project Manager becomes an increasingly important role as production schedules lengthen and development costs increase. Game development is a highly complex process often lasting up to 2 years and requiring teams of programmers, designers, artists, writers, musicians, and even actors. Managing this is a big job which carries considerable financial responsibility.
Prior to production, the Project Manager carries out a detailed analysis of the game design specification and works out the project ‘milestones’ (specific targets that have to be met by certain dates). They agree on these with the key technical and creative managers, such as the Game Designer, Lead Artist and Lead Programmer.
They then work out a schedule for the project and decide the teams and equipment needed. They control the financial resources and negotiate all contracts with suppliers and contractors.
During development, the Project Manager monitors progress against the schedule. They are the central point of contact for all aspects of a production, liaising with senior management, publishers, PR and marketing departments, QA, as well as the programming, design and art teams, which can include any outsourced personnel.
They oversee all aspects of the game’s development and delivery, and often localization requirements (different versions for different territories). They reprioritize when production deadlines are a concern, manage risks, and plan for contingencies.
The Project Manager might also have to oversee on-going maintenance issues even after the game is launched, involving updates, add-ons and customer support.