The world is made up of two types of people: Gamers and everybody else. Here at the ProductPlan blog, we advocate strategic roadmapping for product managers in every field. But for the video game industry, in particular, product roadmaps take on added importance.
In this post, we’ll offer several strategic reasons that you should embrace your roadmap as a gaming product manager.
8 Reasons to Love Your Product Roadmap as a Gaming Product Manager
Ready, player one?
1. Gaming product managers move faster with a roadmap
The greater the revenue, the fiercer the competition. With overall revenue topping even that of the movie business, gaming is one of the most competitive industries in the world.
As a gaming product manager, speed is your friend. You want to deliver new titles to your customers as quickly as possible. You also want to react with speed to user feedback—and improve your existing titles in a hurry. If you don’t move with speed, a competitor with a similar game in development could beat you to the market.
A product roadmap is an invaluable tool for keeping a cross-functional game-development team on track and moving quickly. The roadmap serves as a strategic blueprint for the project. When you develop it correctly—highlighting the high-level plans and goals, in priority order—you’ll save your team a lot of time going down the wrong path as they lose sight of the big-picture strategy.
With a SaaS roadmap readily accessible online, your entire team can check in periodically to ensure they’re still on track.
2. A gaming roadmap helps protect project secrecy
It happens all the time in the film industry. Armageddon and Deep Impact: two big-budget Hollywood movies about Earth-destroying asteroids, were both released the same year. K-9 and Turner & Hooch, two police-dog comedies, also hit theaters the same year.
Does this happen because creatives tend to see things similarly? Leading them to come up with the same ideas at the same time? Or is something more sinister at work, like corporate espionage? Who knows? All we know is that it happens in all creative fields, including gaming product management.
Using a non-roadmap tool to build and share your gaming roadmap can undermine your plans for secrecy. That’s because static files—like a spreadsheet or presentation file—can “leak” out in the world.
A much safer strategy is to use a purpose-built web-based roadmap app. Working with the right roadmap solution provider will enable you to lock down your roadmap, make it accessible online only to the team members you invite to view it, and help you protect it behind the app maker’s multiple layers of security for your project plans and ideas.
3. It’ll save you time
Product managers spend a lot of time answering questions, weighing requests, and trying to communicate their strategic vision to many different audiences. These challenges are no different in the gaming industry.
But with a product roadmap, you’ll have a tool to guide you through these answers and conversations much more efficiently and quickly. For example, rather than having to address every suggestion for new functionality as a separate conversation, you need to begin from scratch, you can bring up your roadmap as your helpful guide.
Does the request support your team’s strategic goals for the new game? If not, then the request can live somewhere else—like your product backlog—and your team can continue to focus only on the initiatives that’ll move your title to market-ready as quickly as possible.
4. A gaming roadmap helps you communicate with different teams
As every product manager learns soon after starting their first PM job, each department in a company speaks a unique language. Marketing teams speak the language of messaging and campaigns and lead funnels—executives’ language centers around revenues and profitability and market share. Of course, developers speak in code. (Pun not really intended, but sort of.)
Here’s another great thing about building a product roadmap for your gaming title. If you use the right app, you can easily tailor the same roadmap to any of these audiences—and display the content in their language.
You can have a productive meeting with your executive team. Show them your projections for a new title’s revenue and ability to capture new customers. Then, click a few buttons to show the same roadmap to your development team, highlighting your big-picture goals for building the game itself.
5. It’s a great way to strengthen relationships with gaming customers
Your customers want to know what titles you have in the pipeline. Are you finally building the third edition of their favorite game? Adding new characters, challenges, or settings? Are you planning something new entirely?
Developing a public-facing product roadmap for your upcoming gaming projects is a great way to deepen relationships with your customer base and keep fans enthusiastic about your brand as they anticipate what’s coming next.
And when you have a purpose-built roadmap app—as opposed to a static presentation file—you can easily spin up a public-facing version of the roadmap in minutes.
Caution: A public-facing roadmap can be a valuable tool from a market-awareness and customer-retention standpoint. But you need to strike the right balance between generating enthusiasm and managing expectations. Don’t promise all of the features you’re hoping to include in the first edition and avoid promising specific release dates.
6. A roadmap can boost a gaming PM’s credibility
When your executives, investors, sales reps, developers, and other groups with a stake in the outcome of your new game ask to discuss your strategy, what will you show them?
You could write your strategy in a document, or pretty it up on a slideshow. But what if your cross-functional team wants a deeper discussion than that? What if they want evidence supporting why you’ve chosen to propose this particular game-development strategy? What if they want to review how you plan to allocate resources to achieve the goals laid out on the roadmap, and if you’ve even thought through whether or not it will be possible.
A product roadmap helps you present your strategic thinking and plans clearly and compellingly—letting you address those tough questions even before your audience brings them up. Moreover, if you’re using a roadmap app, you can load your evidence and strategic reasoning into the roadmap. When the conversation moves in that direction, you can use it as a second-level set of data to display.
Note: The ability to quickly share data in a roadmap meeting can be particularly useful. Especially if you are presenting to executives, investors, or others in your company that may not be gamers themselves and might not understand your reasoning or claims without supporting evidence.
7. A roadmap helps executives visually grasp your strategy
Imagine your executive staff asked you to present plans for the game title that you’ve slated for development next. What would you show them at that meeting? You could talk about your plans and tell them all about why it’s going to be awesome—but what would you show them?
Many product managers make the mistake of presenting a list of features as the “product roadmap.” But a product roadmap needs to convey strategy. It needs to answer the question, Why? Why are we going to build this product, this way, at this time? And why should we have confidence that it will succeed?
Moreover, if you’re presenting to your company’s executives, you need to answer these questions in a hurry. Showing them a list of features isn’t going to do the job.
A well-developed product roadmap solves this problem. It allows you to present your strategic plans and objectives. You’re empowered to quickly bring up any data supporting your claims. It could take the form of survey data, for example, showing a high level of user interest in your planned new title. It could be revenue data showing how successfully similar titles have performed for your company in the past.
When you’ve prepared a clear, visual roadmap that illustrates a compelling strategy behind your proposed product, your executives will feel confident that you’ve thought through the plans, possibilities, and pitfalls—and much more likely to give you the green light.
8. It keeps your workflow systems in sync—so you don’t have to
There’s one final strategic reason every gaming product manager should use roadmaps—and roadmap software in particular. These tools can help streamline your workflows because they integrate with the other apps that your team uses every day.
With ProductPlan, for example, you can tie your strategic roadmap to the tactical tasks your team is working on in Jira. You can also automatically update your entire team via a Slack channel whenever you update your roadmap because ProductPlan integrates with Slack.
We hope we’ve convinced you that as a gaming product manager, you have some unique reasons to use roadmaps for building your products. If so, and you’re ready to spin up a web-based roadmap in minutes… then game on: