Game art outsourcing is a huge part of game development. It doesn’t matter if you are a first-time game creator or a part of a big gaming company, almost everyone outsources a part of their game at some point.
It can be a way to get work done faster, cheaper, and better than you can do it yourself, and you can ensure that your art style is following current trends to make it more popular when it comes out.
Art styles and quality is oftentimes a huge part of a decision for gamers on whether or not to buy a game, so it is important that the art is high-quality and looks nice. Thankfully, there are plenty of teams out there to help you turn that game idea of yours into a reality.
Check out this article to know more about the Game Development Process
Pros and Cons of Using Game Outsourcing Companies
Game art outsourcing companies can provide a lot of benefits, especially for small teams that don’t have an artist or someone with experience in artwork software for games, but that doesn’t mean it is always ideal. There are some downsides of outsourcing as well, which may make the option not ideal for every team.
Let’s take a look at some of the more common pros and cons that come with game art outsourcing.
|Speed at finishing assets||No over-the-shoulder supervision|
|Quality work if the right company |
|Change of style due to constant|
change of talents on their side
|Great to have at LiveOps stage||Good ones are expensive|
|Discounts for long term clients||Time zone issues|
|Great help in short deadlines||Need to be precise with feedback|
otherwise, it can be counter
How to Choose the Best Game Art Outsourcing Company?
When you are picking the best game art outsourcing company, the first step is to make sure that the company is trustworthy. To make sure they are a decent company, you should look at customer reviews.
It is important to search for reviews of the company outside of their company website and through a third-party website like Google. This ensures you are getting more unbiased reviews.
You can also look at how long the company has been around, what guarantees they have about their work, and whether the games they have worked on previously have been released or not.
You also want a company that is open and good at communicating. If it is a struggle to get a response from the team you are trying to work with, it is likely they aren’t a great company, are too busy, or are just not the team for you.
By taking these points into account, you can likely narrow down the companies you are willing to work with pretty far down. From there, it is up to you to pick a company and team that makes the most sense for your game.
The outsourcing company that is best for you may not be best for everyone. While there are definitely companies that are better than others, once you start looking at the top companies, it comes down to the finest of details.
For example, you want to choose companies that embody the art you want. For example, some companies specialize in certain game styles, such as 2D, 3D, or VR. Some companies have specific art styles as well.
You don’t want to choose a company that focuses on VR designs to create your 2D game. If the team even decides to work with you, this will lead to a lot of confusion and struggles throughout.
Some of these art styles may look more like what you are wanting from your game art than others. To get an idea of what the company does, you should be able to see what previous games they have worked on or clips in their portfolio.
If you are still confused about where to even start finding a company to work with, then check out these 7 companies below. They are considered the best of the best, working on popular mobile games, or even with AAA game companies, so you can be sure they are trustworthy and experienced at what they do.
Game Art Brain
- Location: Berlin, Germany, and Cairo, Egypt.
- Number of Artists: There are about 30 artists.
- Specialty: Game Art Brain focuses on more 3D and 2D art including concept art, illustration, characters, UI, and the background and environment.
- Founded: 2017 by Christian Stephan Retzlaff and Jordan Greenhall.
Game Art Brain is a company focused on helping games get finalized and released into the world. They not only help you design the art you need for your game, but can review your game and see where you might be able to improve, or where it seems you don’t have a solid plan.
This means that if you already have an art team, but want to make sure you are going in the right direction, they can just be there for support. However, they also handle the game art development entirely if that is more what you are looking for.
They have a mix of UI artists, animators, and character designers, so they can handle every step of the process or focus on just one area depending on what your game needs.
They have a portfolio on their website, as well as a list of some companies that they work with, so if you find one that has inspired you, Game Art Brain may be the right choice for you.
- Location: Virtuos has over 21 locations throughout the world, including the US, Asia, and Europe. Their headquarters, however, is in Singapore.
- Number of Artists: Throughout all of their locations, they have over 3,500 artists working for them.
- Specialty: They primarily work on AAA games with both game development and art production.
- Founded: Virtuos was founded in 2004.
Virtuous has a big clientele. They handle mostly large companies and their outsourcing. Some examples of who they have worked for previously include Capcom, Disney, Zynga, Daybreak, Bethesda, Activision, Bandai Namco, Tencent Games, Konami, and much more. They have worked with 18 of the top 20 entertainment companies throughout the world.
They have been a part of games such as Horizon Forbidden West, Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Demon’s Souls, and The Callisto Protocol.
The company is pretty quiet and it can be hard to find out much about them. This is because the company believes that its work and experience should speak for themselves. Based on their history with big companies, their plan seems to be working.
With so many teams and plenty of staff at each site, they aren’t boxed into one kind of game or development either. They can handle pretty much any part of game production including game development, console games, mobile games, game art, animation, VR, and movies.
- Location: Birmingham, United Kingdom
- Number of Artists: Surface Digital is a small team that consists of about 10 people.
- Specialty: Art direction, 3D modeling, iconography, logo designs, renders, motion graphics, concept art, and UI.
- Founded: 2010.
Surface Digital is a small company of just a handful of people. However, they have worked on some pretty big projects, including Clash of Clans and Merge Mansion. They tend to focus on mobile games but can handle pretty much the entirety of the game artwork, from concept art to motion graphics.
They’ve been going strong for 14 years with their small team to make amazing game art for game developers despite taking a big risk and jumping into the field without much to back them up but their dedication and their experience.
They want to help produce games but have no desire to grow into a large company. Everyone that works there is excited by their small team and the family that they’ve built, and they don’t want to lose it by growing bigger and following the traditional business model.
- Location: London, England, and Ukraine.
- Number of Artists: They have a fairly small team of around 80 people.
- Specialty: 2D and 3D cross-platform games. They also help with target audience marketing.
- Founded: Whimsy Games was founded in 2015.
Whimsy Games is a fairly new team but has quickly grown due to its numerous projects that have turned out successful. Since 2015, they have handled over 200 projects.
They are focused on doing more than the bare minimum for their clients, which is why they have so many good reviews and completed projects. Instead of just completing the artwork and calling it a day, Whimsy Games offers end-to-end service.
This makes sure that not only do you have a solid set of artwork, but you also have assistance with marketing and even basic game development.
Whimsy Games has good reviews on Upwork, Clutch, and Goodfirms due to their skills in game art development and meeting their clients’ needs.
They even do NFT development, so if your game ends up doing well, or you want to promote it in a fun way, you can create a couple of NFTs of some of the more iconic artwork in your game.
They’ve worked with companies such as Exposure, Enigma Dragons, Adventure Studios, and Squid Games.
- Location: Kevuru Games is located in Delaware, US.
- Number of Artists: Kevuru Games has over 140 artists, making it a medium-sized company.
- Specialty: Since the company is a bit larger, it can offer a wider range of specialties, including 2D and 3D art and environments, casual and concept art, spine animations, and even developing games from scratch.
- Founded: This company was founded in 2011.
Kevuru Games is a company that is focused on colors and breaking the mold. They aren’t satisfied with just following the current trends in art styles, but instead, want to see what they can do that is different and unique.
Their goals seem to have worked well for them, as some of their clients are considered to be in the top 10 Video Game Publishers throughout the world. This includes companies like Epic Games, EA Games, Foxnext Games, Techona, Housemarque, Bandai Namco, and Lucasfilm.
They will help to produce your game, offering suggestions about improvements, and sticking with a company despite any issues or hold-ups that would make other companies quickly quit. They work with any genre and setting of a game and prefer to find companies that are willing to push the envelope and break new ground.
- Location: N-iX has a wide range of offices around the globe including in Poland, Sweden, Colombia, and the US.
- Number of Artists: N-iX has over 240 professionals on their team with a wealth of experience.
- Specialty: N-iX specializes in 2D and 3D art production, animation, motion capture cleanup, full-cycle game development, and metaverse and VR design.
- Founded: N-iX was founded in 2012.
N-iX has been around for just over 10 years now and has worked with some big companies including Paradox Interactive, Stormind Games, CI Games, Trese Brothers, Crazy Labs, Supermassive Games, Tempo Storm, and Wargaming.net.
They work on most parts of game development, especially art production, and they have experience with Unreal Engine’s C++ code and Unity’s C# code.
They can be hired as an outsourcing company, or to help as co-developers and to provide art direction. They even provide testing services to make sure your game is working well with thorough inspections on every platform.
If you want a company to help you along with your first game, and make sure everything is working as it should before you release it, this is a great team to work with. You can hire N-iX for one of their specialties, or the whole thing, depending on what you need.
- Location: California in the United States.
- Number of Artists: There are just under 200 employees specifically a part of 1518 Studios.
- Specialty: 1518 Studios specializes in illustrations, logos, and UI concepts. They also occasionally work on cinematics.
- Founded: 1518 Studios was originally founded in 2016 under the name 5518 Studios but was bought out and revamped in 2021.
The company 5518 Studios was bought by PTW (Pole to Win) in 2021 and merged with Orange Rock. In addition to the newly named 1518 Studios, PTW also owns SIDE, Entalize, The Game Dev Show, and OR Esports.
Since 1518 Studios focuses a lot on logos and illustrations, it isn’t just game companies they work with, but anyone that needs a logo.
Some companies they have worked with, game developers and otherwise, include Black Shamrock, Uber, IFunny, Brainseed Factory, Tencent, Mattel, Big Fish, Dots, Blizzard Entertainment, Netflix, Amazon, Striking Distance Studios, Promethean AI, Ecomi, and Aspect.
They have been a part of big games such as Apex Legends, Metro Exodus: Sam’s Story, Homescapes, Overwatch 2, The Callisto Protocol, Saints Row, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, Borderlands 3, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.
In addition to art and animation, they are also working on building up their co-development team. There are over 35 studios, though the main base is in California and they have been a part of over 1500 game titles in some form or other.
Despite having so many studios, the company focuses on taking care of each of its team members, highlighting spectacular artists on their team and allowing each of them to put their unique touches on the games and illustrations they are hired to create.
Best Game Art Outsourcing Companies FAQS
What Is Game Art Outsourcing?
Game art outsourcing is where a company or game maker hires a separate group or party to help with the art design. Instead of using people in their team, they will hire a group of people from somewhere else to focus specifically on the art.
Meanwhile, their in-house team can focus on other aspects of the game such as marketing, storyline, and even other parts of the art.
Outsourcing can be beneficial for several reasons. If it is a small team or even a single person working to build a game, they may not have the skills or time to work on the art.
For bigger companies, it allows them to focus on their yearly quota by not having to hire new people and have another team focused on the development of simpler art while they work on more details.
Each game art outsourcing team focuses on a different kind of art style, so your team can look around for a company that best aligns with what you are looking for.
Do a Lot of Game Developers Outsource?
Most game companies end up outsourcing work at some point. While it might make sense for indie game companies to outsource occasionally when needed, you may be surprised to know that AAA game companies have also outsourced in the past.
For example, Ubisoft has admitted to outsourcing games or parts of its games. This can help when they are short on their teams, or their artists need to focus on more complicated work and they just need someone to knock out the basic and repetitive work.
Sometimes, outsourcing can be beneficial as well if a company doesn’t want to pay a team and train them. Instead, they can outsource to a team that already has experience and knowledge in what they are doing.
Outsourcing can also help big companies that are producing multiple games a year. By outsourcing, they get to focus on the specifics of their game and leave the basic work to someone else. This allows for faster development.
Is it Cheaper to Outsource?
The short answer is that it depends. Many times, outsourcing can be cheaper than having a team in-house work on the project. You don’t have to hire more people to work on it, deal with training, and can get the work done faster than you might be able to do on your own.
However, if you already have a team, or are looking at teams from other countries where pay rates are higher, you may be paying more than you would by just having your team do the work.