As CCP Games further expands from its space MMO property and looks for new talents, we catch up with senior talent acquisition specialist Marina Dogg Pledel Jonsdottir to learn more about the perks available at the Icelandic firm
To say that CCP is on the rise would be an understatement. Already behind the hughly popular MMO EVE Online, the Icelandic company jumped on the VR train last year with triple-A title EVE: Valkyrie, as well as Gunjack. The latter, as of February, has sold over half a million copies – which can be considered a massive success for a VR game.
“Our early investment in VR gaming has positioned CCP well to take advantage of what we think will be a revolution in the industry,” senior talent acquisition specialist Marina Dogg Pledel Jonsdottir tells Develop. “We have made a number of bets that we’ve learned from, and are committed to the space.
“In addition, we recently added a free-to-play option to EVE Online, and that has given a lot of people an opportunity to check the game out and, we hope, become long-term players.”
As a result of this growth, CCP opened a new office in London in September last year, becoming the fifth studio for the company which also has offices in Newcastle, Shanghai, Atlanta and, of course, Reykjavik. “Opening the London office means that we are recruiting more than we have in the past. Also, releasing more games means more open positions.
When you hit your 10-year anniversary you get a sword. We are vikings after all
Marina Dogg Pledel Jonsdottir
“The more specific the skillset we are looking for is, the harder it can be to recruit to locations like Atlanta, Newcastle, Reykjavik and even Shanghai, but that is not something that has changed, it's more about the volume.
“Having said that, it's not necessarily the location – we have noticed that some experts are just harder to find in general, wherever you are based. Examples of that are specific engineers, VFX artists and people who are smart about monetization.” So if you happen to have a specific skillset that might be of interest for CCP, now is the time to apply.
“I don’t think there’s any magic to this,” Jonsdottir answers when asked about what devs should prioritise to land a job at CCP. “Do your homework, learn about the company and the position you’re applying for, and submit a CV that’s suited for the role. It doesn’t hurt to know people who already work at the company of course, but that’s not required.”
As for the job interview, demonstrating passion is, as always in games, a key requirement.
“The most important thing is to be yourself,” Jonsdottir explains. “It doesn’t help anyone to try to be someone you think we want. We want people who are passionate about the company, the industry, the project, and their work. Ask smart questions,that demonstrate that you know something about the company and the role.
“It's really all about passion, curiosity and drive. The best candidates are sincere and honest about who they are, but what makes the best interviewees the best is their ability to make you really feel their desire to work for CCP even if they know they are not a perfect fit for the role. They have researched everything they can about CCP, they have read the job description many times and they ask really smart questions. No one is perfect, but your passion and curiosity will bring you far.”
SWORDS AND FUN CLUB
If your passion and curiosity brought you as far as being hired by CCP, the company has multiple perks available so that its staff can work in the best conditions. “We have the usual stuff, like decked out cantinas that serve great food. We also have a team of people at each of our studios called Fun Club that thinks about fun stuff to do like ski trips, movie and bowling nights, cooking classes, and so on,” Jonsdottir lists.
“Several of our studios offer incentives to use alternative means like public transport, biking, to avoid driving to work. And in Iceland there are dozens and dozens of local businesses that offer discounts to CCP employees.”
And the greatest perk of all: “Plus swords. When you hit your 10-year anniversary you get a sword. We are Vikings after all.” The company also has its staff’s well being at heart.
“We put a huge focus on our people, and have a number of efforts to make sure everyone has an opportunity to develop and grow,” Jonsdottir continues. “We probably offer a little more flexibility than most studios with regards to teams and locations as well if that’s something they’re interested in.
“We also try to give every employee the feeling that they are empowered to express their opinions – not just on their teams, but also to our executive team.”
JUMPING INTO VR
Working at CCP obviously also means having the opportunity to work on some pretty exciting projects.
“We have several games at various stages of development in all our studios,” Jonsdottir says. “Of course EVE Online continues to be developed in Reykjavik, and we just announced Sparc, a new VR sport, which is in development in our Atlanta studio. CCP Newcastle released EVE: Valkyrie just about a year ago, and we’ve updated it several times since, with more content on the way. Our Shanghai team has been focused on mobile VR, releasing both Gunjack and Gunjack II in the last 18 months or so, and we’re building a development team in our newest office in London.”
Being on the cutting edge of VR development, CCP represents a good opportunity for skillful devs ready to make the leap to VR or improve their VR development skills.
“Working at CCP is very much an adventure,” Jonsdottir concludes. “We do things a little differently than bigger developers/publishers and we’re one of the few that has been willing to jump into something like VR development with both feet. There’s no ‘playbook’ at CCP about the games we develop, the people we hire, or the way we talk.”