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Starting in early 2020, the way the world did business went through some quick and uncomfortable changes. A lot of companies struggle with these issues still today. ProbablyMonsters, however, has had a great year. For instance, the AAA developer started out 2022 on a high note — the company raised the highest, at the time, video game Series A funding in history.
Since the fundraising, things have been going well for ProbablyMonsters. So far, for 2022, the company has grown an impressive 65% and they’re not stopping there. All this new growth led to an office expansion in their Bellevue, WA headquarters to accommodate the larger staff.
What makes them different? One thing, for certain, is the company’s $77,000 minimum wage with full medical benefits stands out. Employee compensation also includes a 401K and bonuses. All included, the package comes out to be around $100,000, at minimum, per employee.
We talked to Shannon Armstrong, chief people officer at ProbablyMonsters, about finding success under a pandemic.
GamesBeat: How do you feel the workplace has changed since early 2020?
Shannon Armstrong: The global pandemic has changed how all business sectors operate, and we too were challenged with responding to new ways of working. We responded quickly to remote work options for all employees, adapting current and newer technologies to connect our teams in the virtual space to ensure they had what they needed to keep working and care for themselves and their families. We kept a pulse on our teams and offered additional support with employee wellness and mental health needs. We increased our efforts to connect employees with expanded EAP benefits to help their families cope with the increased stresses during that time. Through all the challenges, we remained committed to growing. We created a new business unit, expanding our talent reach to 47 states and created in-office, remote and hybrid options for work. Being flexible and addressing changing needs to ensure employees feel supported has always been our priority but being responsive in times of change is priority one here at ProbablyMonsters.
As a side note, our local community non-profit partners were also impacted during the pandemic and with the help of our local employees and increased donation support, we were able to keep our commitments to partners like Treehouse for Kids, Digipen, Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank and more. Helping others, helps to keep up our team morale as well.
GamesBeat: Do you feel these changes are overall good for the workforce?
Armstrong: There have definitely been positive outcomes from the evolving workforce changes, such as building robust internal processes that could scale and be predictable for all employees regardless of where they are doing their work. It has increased our focus on creative ways to communicate and has created more flexibility in employees’ schedules, allowing for more quality personal or family time. Regardless of where employees are working, flexibility will continue to be important. All of these changes have created the need for open communication and understanding of how we want to grow together. All voices have the opportunity to be heard. This change will make us a stronger force as we continue to grow.
GamesBeat: In a time where companies are struggling to get employees back in the office, how is ProbablyMonsters attracting so much talent?
Armstrong: Our culture is employee centric here at ProbablyMonsters. This is what makes us different. We have employees who enjoy working in the office, we have remote teams and we have hybrid employees who work both in the office and at home. We realized the need to be flexible with how our employees want to work; we’re taking advantage of technology to connect our teams wherever they work, we’ve expanded into 47 states to attract top talent where they live, and we offer the same excellent compensation and benefits packages.
Our mission is to unite, guide and empower talented teams and to create an environment where our employees can thrive and create lifelong careers, doing what they love. Everything we do in our business is in support of our mission and aspires to support the creative process while providing stability, community and the opportunity to attract top talent to our industry for generations to come. I think that’s what people are looking for – and we provide that for them.
These continued efforts have paid off; we have a 65% growth for 2022 so far, at a time when others are pausing or eliminating growth.
GamesBeat: What unique challenges have you folks faced trying to staff up for new projects over the last couple of years?
Armstrong: One unique challenge we face today with our business model is finding niche positions for multi-able studios when there may only be a handful of qualified candidates in the U.S.. We are currently in the process of building internal technical development programs to address this continued complex opportunity.
Not unique to us and what all companies are facing today are challenges around the sophistication of business and technology. You have different tax rules and employment laws by state and, in some cases, city by city. For example, the city of Seattle is different from the city of Bellevue. Benefits and employment law must be reviewed and calculated in a certain way. We’re taking on those complexities one step at a time as we continue growing beyond employees and teams that are local.
GamesBeat: Finally, what does ProbablyMonsters have that other companies are missing?
Armstrong: As Harold Ryan has shared and continues to speak about, the games industry has been challenging for game developers. Difficult cultures, unpredictable compensation and unstable employment have been heightened by business arrangements that haven’t typically rewarded developer success, creatively or financially.
ProbablyMonsters envisions a sustainable future for games. To do our part in achieving this vision, we unite the most forward-thinking creators, we guide them through our people-centric culture, and we empower them to disrupt the development process.
As a new category of an independent game company, ProbablyMonsters believes that the process of developing games should be as amazing as the games themselves. That’s why we obsess about providing a positive and well-resourced environment with strong compatible cultural ties for our teams. We understand that ensuring a meaningful and rewarding creative space for our Monsters translates into memorable and valuable experiences for gamers.
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