Business model change: a case study of independent videogame development firms and their transition from the 'work-for-hire' model

Mullen, Helen (2018) Business model change: a case study of independent videogame development firms and their transition from the 'work-for-hire' model. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.
Printed Thesis Information:


The aim of the study was to better understand the business model change process at the firm level with specific reference to small firms, an area that remains under researched. Business model change drivers, constraints and facilitators were examined in the context of small, independent videogame development firms. The videogame industry is a fast-moving, global industry with entrepreneurial characteristics and a notable number of small and micro firms involved in games development. Such firms have traditionally operated using a contractor-based, ‘work-for-hire’ business model. This is characterised by project-based activities, little or no proprietary intellectual property, a weak financial model, and limited possibilities to build value into the firm. In recent years, new market and technology-related opportunities have emerged for such firms to change to a higher value model that incorporates proprietary intellectual property ownership, an ‘IP’ model. However despite the attraction of this model, and support from industry and policymakers, the successful change from work-for-hire has been limited thereby restricting both firm and industry development. Understanding the rationale for this can contribute to the business model change literature and inform videogame industry policy.

This was an empirical study incorporating an exploratory, inductive approach with an embedded single case design that focused on independent videogame development firms and four business model change routes. Qualitative, longitudinal data were collected via 37 semi-structured interviews with purposefully selected entrepreneurs and industry experts; personal observations from interviews and 13 industry events in the UK and abroad; and documentation analysis of firm and industry data. The key findings indicated that: (i) business model change drivers were internal and external in nature with the entrepreneur’s preferences and the business model characteristics being dominant; (ii) certain business model change constraints influenced the composition, timing and success of business model change but were rarely preventative at business model adoption; (iii) the change process was opportunistic, ad hoc and facilitated by experimentation, finance, parallel models and a supportive firm and external environment; and (iv) parallel models were a critical part of business model change. For industry the study indicated that: (i) the IP model opportunity is questionable for many firms; (ii) the work-for-hire and combination models were prevalent but underrated; and (iii) innovation at the business model component may be a more appropriate way for videogame development firms to gain value.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Business models, business model change, videogames, small firms, entrepreneurship.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Supervisor's Name: Mason, Professor Colin
Date of Award: 2018
Embargo Date: 29 January 2022
Depositing User: Helen Mullen
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-8936
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2018 12:35
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2021 08:23

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year