What is a Product Manager at Kolibri Games?
Broadly put, Product Managers (PMs) oversee our games teams and ensure they have actionable goals to aim for and all the resources they need to reach them. PMs at Kolibri Games are, for the most part, generalists. We don’t have a separate producer role so our PMs are responsible for both setting strategy/high-level goals, and then overseeing sprint-level KPIs and day-to-day progress. It’s a lot of work and can be challenging, but it offers a great deal of ownership and the opportunity to really shape our games.
It’s important to note that we also have a Technical Product Manager role, that is somewhat out of the scope of this post. A lot of what we’ll talk about today also applies to that role but, even though the title is similar, it’s different enough to warrant its own post.
We hire PMs for both our established live games and for our new games teams, and while the roles in each are similar, there are differences. For Idle Miner Tycoon, for example, we have three Product Managers and one Technical Product Manager. Each PM manages one delivery team. Delivery teams are cross-disciplinary teams working together on 1-2 week sprints with complete ownership of their sprint tasks (for more on delivery teams at Kolibri Games see this blog post). These PMs can work together and share product learnings and insights. By contrast, our new games teams tend to have only one Product Manager (called “Product Leads” in these teams) – and while they are, of course, in contact with other PMs and have access to all of our product data and learnings, they need to be able to work independently and outside the framework of a mature game.
So what are we looking for in a PM? If we had to boil it down to three things they would be:
- Be a good communicator
- Be organized
- Always be learning
Naturally, they’re all interconnected. As product manager, you’ll be the point-person for questions about technical details, delivery dates, KPIs, art assets, consumer insights and more. You’ll be responsible for communicating these things to the entire range of stakeholders, from the most to the least technically fluent. If you don’t have the answers immediately at hand, you’ll need to know where to find them. If the answers don’t currently exist inside the company, you’ll need to learn how we can answer them. Yeah, it’s a lot. Let’s dive in a little deeper.
Communication, Organisation, and a Thirst for Knowledge
In general, game teams at Kolibri Games have weekly sprint goals, quarterly goals, and long-term goals. PMs are ultimately responsible for setting these goals and communicating them to the games teams, product directors and company management. Keep in mind that picking one or a set of goals means saying “no” to a dozen others. PMs need to be able to justify this choice, back it up with data, and articulate in such a way that everyone gets on-board and is motivated to work towards it.
As game teams work towards set goals, different team members may need different assets or data to deliver their piece of the puzzle. Remember who gets poked? An organized PM has those assets at hand, knows where they are, or has built processes ensuring that they are already in the hands of the team members who need them. No one wants to spend a half-hour looking through folders for assets that should have already been collected, or wondering if there’s data to back up a KPI.
A PM who’s always learning is a PM who’s also getting better at both setting goals and communicating them. The mobile games market is fast-paced and genres emerge, grow and fade all the time. Technical changes are always underfoot, from hardware trends to changes in SDKs, and even in legislation governing data collection. A perfectly reasonable goal today may be irrelevant in six months. A good PM helps steer a game to where the market is headed, not simply where it is today. Beyond market knowledge, knowledge of how every team member works is valuable in both helping to set reasonable goals as well as motivating individual efforts.
Getting ready for your trial days
Show up prepared!
In the words of Bruno, our IMT Product Director, “you have the internet, use it.” First of all, if you’re trialing for Idle Miner Tycoon, know the game. It’s our most mature product, the one we have the most data for, and is the best-documented. Our blog, the one you’re reading now, hosts dozens of posts about the game, from gameplay tips to technical breakdowns. Beyond that, our founders and key team members have talked about it at conferences, livestreams, and on podcasts. The more of this you know, the better you’ll do. If you’re trialing for one of our new games teams, IMT knowledge won’t hurt. At the least it’ll show that you’ve done your homework.
It sounds obvious but, make sure you understand the mobile market. Not all of our PM candidates have a PM background, which is great. We’re interested in talent regardless of where they come from, so long as they make the effort to understand what they’re getting into.make sure you know common mobile metrics and monetization practices, read Deconstructor of Fun, do your homework. The great thing about mobile gaming is, even though it’s still quite young, it’s well-documented.
Prepare your pitch!
Both days of your trial will end with presentations. It’s important to remember that you’ll be evaluated on both your ideas and how well you pitch them. As Merlin says, “assume that you’re the only person who believes in your ideas.” We want to see how you back them up with data, support them with measurable metrics and explain it all to a diverse audience. Product Management isn’t sales, but being able to pitch your ideas well is key.
Ready for the challenge?
Being a Product Manager at Kolibri Games is tough but very rewarding. Lots of ownership means lots of impact on our games. You’ll be making millions of players happy with every update and new game you ship. That’s one of the joys of the mobile gaming market. We reach people every day, bring them enjoyment and become parts of their lives. If this sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, take a look at our open positions below and head over to our careers page.