Day 3-5/9/2018

Glass Egg Digital media was my favorite site visit so far. Its existence is a testament to both globalization and to the development of Vietnam. Glass Egg digital media is a niche company-they are a 3D art outsourcing company. They have only been around for 19 years (Glass Egg evolved from its previous company in 1999), and initially they had to sell larger game studios on the merits of their business.

Most game development companies did all of their artwork in house, but the amount of work needed to develop a game varies depending on the stage that the game is at. During the pre-production and post-production of a game only about 40 people need to be working on the game, but during production the number rises to about 150 people. Game development companies had to hire and fire artists in a short time frame. The constant hiring and firing made it difficult to keep talented artists and added costs to their human resource department. Glass Egg was able to get the business of game developers by convincing them that it was not worth their while to hire all of the artists and fire them a short time later. It would be easier for them to pay Glass Egg to do the artwork, and Glass Egg would take care of the hiring, firing, and organization of artists.

Glass Egg hires almost exclusively Vietnamese because it keeps their costs lower. Lower salaries for Vietnamese artists is the major advantage that Glass Egg gains from being in Vietnam. Since they can hire the artists cheaper than the major studios can, because the major studios are based in the US/UK. Glass Egg trains its own employees, and encourages local universities and schools to teach computer science. The training process takes 6 months to a year and they aim to hire 70% of those that they train. They look for talented artists and try to teach them technical skills, rather than teaching people with technical skills how to be artists. Being in Vietnam also makes it easy for Glass Egg to scale. As more firms have entered the market in Vietnam the competition is for talent and not for clients which shows the advantage of hiring Vietnamese.

Glass Egg also faces some disadvantages from being in Vietnam, primarily the fact that it is isolated from other companies. This was more of an issue in the past when Glass Egg was the only firm, now that there are more firms game development companies are more willing to come to HoChiMinh and compare the different firms in the area. Surprisingly, Glass Egg faces very little difficulties from the government. They do not have to deal with intellectual property at all because what they make is the property of their clients. One of their primary concerns is security and they have invested a lot to make sure that no-one can hack them. Glass Egg was modeling for the XBox One two years prior to its release and needed its technical specifications in order to model for the game. It was of paramount importance to protect that technical information so that it could not be stolen, otherwise Microsoft would not be able to hire Glass Egg as a client.

Glass Egg operates as a fixed cost business, which in a highly variable field which depends on the company landing contracts is somewhat risky. They have committed salaries to their employees and their profit depends on their ability to land work for them. They are careful about the growth of their company because they do not want to hire people for a short time and then fire them, if they hire someone there must be consistent work for them to do.

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