15 Games Industry Podcasts: Learn About the Business of Making Games
Do you want access to talks and conversations by the games industry’s most interesting and informed personalities, but you don’t want to buy an expensive ticket for an overcrowded convention? Podcasts to the rescue! Within the 18 podcasts on this list, you can find hundreds of hours of discussion about every aspect of the games industry, including: how to get a job in the industry, how to find a publisher for your game, how best to monetize your game once it’s out, and more.
So, let’s take a look at the podcasts that can teach you about the business of making games.
What Do You Mean by Games Industry Podcasts?
The podcasts on this list are primarily about the wider games industry from an insider’s perspective. They include but are not limited to topics like:
- Starting and advancing a career in the industry
- Securing development funding
- Managing an effective and sustainable development process
- Making your games profitable
- Analyses of changes in the market
- Noteworthy technologies and platforms
If you want to find podcasts specifically about the design and development of games, we have a list of those podcasts too
How Did You Decide Which Podcasts Made the List?
Well, first of all, I listened to easily 100+ hours of podcasts while researching this post. I then synthesized all the valuable podcasts I found into a list using the following selection criteria: I made sure to only include podcasts that had at least a dozen episodes and had at least one of those episodes published in the last year. They are ordered with the broadest and most widely relevant entries first and the more focused, niche ones last.
I also included some standard fields for each entry. Those are:
Good for – The kind of topics and information you are likely to find listening to this podcast.
Hosts – The person or persons who host the podcast.
Frequency – How often new episodes are released.
Recommended episode – A good episode to listen to first. Either because it acts as a good on-ramp for the podcast as a whole, or because it stands out as an exceptional episode.
- 1 – The Gamesindustry.biz Podcast
- 2 – Deconstructor of Fun
- 3 – Playmakers – The Game Industry Podcast
- 4 – How Games Make Money
- 5 – Elite Game Developers
- 6 – GamesBeat Decides
- 7 – Virtual Economy
- 8 – She Plays Games
- 9 – Inside Indie Games
- 10 – Mastering Retention
- 11 – The Art of LiveOps
- 12 – Levelup+
- 13 – Mobile GameDev Playbook
- 14 – The Business of Video Games
- 15 – The Psychology of Video Games
1 – The Gamesindustry.biz Podcast
Good for: In-depth industry analysis, interviews with industry experts
Hosts: Various, including James Batchelor, Brendan Sinclair, Marie Dealessandri, Christopher Dring, Rebekah Valentine, Matthew Handrahan
Frequency: 1-2 times per week
Recommended episode: How do games retain new players post-pandemic?
Starting out with a no-brainer entry, it’s the podcast offshoot of one of the largest games industry publications, GamesIndustry.biz. While the podcast does not have a particularly imaginative name, it is jam-packed full of brilliant behind-the-scenes goodness. Hosted by multiple members of the GamesIndustry.biz editorial team, episodes are generally either a deep-dive into a particular topic that was recently covered on the site or an entry in one of their two ongoing series. Those are:
- The Five Games of – In which the hosts explore the career of a particular developer, designer, or executive by examining 5 of the games they have made.
- The Game Developer’s Playlist – In which the hosts interview a developer about the game, or games, which have influenced their careers. Game Developers Playlist is an extension of a similar series that appears on the site called Why I Love.
2 – Deconstructor of Fun
Good for: Industry news, in-depth industry analysis, industry predictions, and interviews with industry experts
Hosts: Michail “Mishka” Katkoff, Joseph “Joe” “JK” Kim, Eric Kress, Adam Telfer
Frequency: 3 times per week
Recommended episode: Hit Roblox Developers Share Their Secrets!
The Deconstructor of Fun podcast is the audio accompaniment to the blog and consulting company of the same name. Deconstructor’s aim is to “dive deep into the economic side of [the] games industry in search of what makes them not only fun but also commercially successful.”
The podcast has two kinds of episodes. Those are:
- This Week in Games (TWIG) – An analysis of the latest news in the games industry
- The Series – In which the hosts focus on a specific topic, often over multiple episodes
Both series are worth your time. The TWIG episodes, in particular, are fun as they have the feel of you listening in on a bunch of friends talking about what’s going on in the industry.
3 – Playmakers – The Game Industry Podcast
Good for: Interviews with industry experts, entertaining episodes.
Host: Jordan Blackman
Frequency: Extremely intermittent
Recommended episode: From Table Tops to Live Ops, with Bruce Harlick
The Playmakers podcast publishes intermittently and with no discernible pattern. Episodes vary wildly in length from 20 minutes to almost an hour-and-a-half on one occasion. At the time of writing, there have been no new episodes published this year, and looking at past episodes, there was a 3-year gap between 2017 and 2020 where no episodes were released at all.
Normally, that would have been enough for me to not add it to this list. However, that would have been a grave oversight as the episodes that have been released were some of the best I listened to while researching this article.
Jordan Blackman, the host, is not only an experienced game designer and producer who’s worked at companies like Zynga and Ubisoft, but also a natural interviewer who manages to keep each episode fun and energetic while also staying on topic and asking his guests insightful questions. In each episode, he interviews a different industry personality about a topic relevant to their experience. All while maintaining high production values and being engaging and informative.
4 – How Games Make Money
Good for: Learning about monetization, interviews with industry experts
Hosts: Jeff Grubb
Recommended episode: How Dead Cells lives on after the cooperative model
How Games Make Money is the first of two entries on this list which include GamesBeat Editor Jeff Grubb as a host. Unlike the other entry, Jeff is the sole host of this podcast in which he interviews people from around the industry in an attempt to figure out how they make money.
Unlike other podcasts on this list, he does not limit himself to one discipline when doing so. Instead, he talks to developers, publishers, executives, content creators, toolmakers, and more. Giving his episodes a nice eclectic feel where you’re not sure what you’re likely to learn about next.
This is one of the newer podcasts on the list as it’s been around for just over a year (as of writing). Thankfully, there have been consistent episodes since it started and it shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
5 – Elite Game Developers
Good for: Interviews with industry experts
Hosts: Joakim Achrén
Recommended episode: EGD 062: Kristian Segerstrale, Super Evil Megacorp
Elite Game Developers is another interview podcast where the host Joakim Achrén interviews founders of games companies to question them about the business of games. Being a founder himself (Next Games) Jaokim manages to ask relevant questions and consistently extracts useful insights.
As mentioned, other than a handful of special episodes, the vast majority are interviews with Founders or Co-Founders of successful studios. Due to the sheer number of interviews, I managed to find quite a few with people who I had not seen interviewed on any other podcast I found during my research.
Joakin tends to be a little reserved during interviews, preferring to leave the focus on the guest and only commenting or contributing anecdotes when appropriate or when prompted. Luckily, if you do want to learn from his extensive experience, he has a blog on the Elite Game Developers site. Although, for some reason, it’s organized by topic, instead of being displayed chronologically. He’s accrued a lot of useful posts on the blog and has even gone so far as to publish a book.
6 – GamesBeat Decides
Good for: Games industry news, game reviews
Host: Mike Minotti, Jeff Grubb
Recommended episode: CYBERPUNK IS ON FIRE
GamesBeat Decides is Jeff Grubb’s second entry on this list. In this podcast, he is joined by fellow GamesBeat Editor Mike Minotti, and the two discuss games industry news and talk about (and occasionally review) the games they’ve been playing most recently.
Of all the podcasts on this list, this one strays most closely to being a ‘consumer’ podcast (rather than an ‘industry’ one). Game reviews normally serve to help people decide what kind of games they should buy, rather than which they should make. However, because both of the host’s day jobs involve writing for the decidedly ‘industry’ publication GamesBeat, they always approach each game and each piece of news with the expert eye of an industry insider.
Add to that, the entertaining banter between the hosts, the relaxed and fun way they approach the ups and downs of the games industry from week to week, and you have the recipe for an entertaining and informative podcast.
7 – Virtual Economy
Good for: Industry news, expert commentary, industry earnings reports, M&A analysis
Host: Amanda Farough, Michael Futter
Frequency: 1-2 times per week
Recommended episode: How A Daytrader Reddit War Made GameStop the Biggest News of the Week (News Story)
Virtual Economy is a podcast squarely focused on informing listeners about the goings-on in the games industry. Each episode is labeled as one of two types. Those are:
- Earnings Shows – In which they discuss the earnings reports of games publishers and studios (while occasionally discussing a bit of news)
- News Show – In which they discuss recent games industry news such as mergers and acquisitions (while occasionally referencing publishers and studios earnings)
Amanda and Michael, the two hosts, are clearly well informed and easy to listen to. They bounce off each other in a fun way and they do a good job of adding context and a dash of excitement to what could otherwise be some fairly dry material. They also very occasionally get on expert analysts to discuss a particular topic. Although that is rare, so most of the time you can be pretty confident of what to expect from each episode
8 – She Plays Games
Good for: Highlighting women in games, interviews with industry experts, career advice
Hosts: Lauren K.
Frequency: Every 2 weeks
Recommended episode: Ellie Rhodes (Ubisoft)
She Plays Games is a podcast series that tries to “celebrate women in the video games industry by shining a light on their amazing stories.” Lauren, the host, does this by interviewing women in various positions throughout the industry, and talking to them about how they got into the industry, what their job entails, and what games mean to them.
Lauren is a natural and experienced host (helped by co-hosting her other podcast Final Fantasy & Kingdom Hearts Union), who manages to elicit interesting and thoughtful conversations with her guests. Despite being somewhat of an outsider to the industry (relative to those guests). Aside from giving women a greater voice in the industry, something which is sorely needed, the podcast also serves to highlight some of the less talked about roles in the industry. Roles like Tools Programming, Community Outreach, and Localization.
9 – Inside Indie Games
Good for: Learning the business of indie games, insights from a variety of different experts on each topic
Hosts: Various (episode feature a panel of experts’) Including Will Freeman,
Frequency: Intermittent (last episode posted in 2020)
Recommended episode: Failing Forward: How to Bounce Back From Failure
Inside Indie Games is a podcast produced by the UK Games Fund as a way to share insights on topics relevant to indie game makers. As is fairly common, Inside has split its run of episodes into multiple seasons. With two seasons being completed so far. The first season took the fairly standard format of interviewing games industry personalities. Primarily those from the UK indie scene. The second season, however, mixed things up in quite an interesting way. Episodes are still interviews but most involve multiple people, often including a panel of experts on the topic being discussed.
The episodes are well-produced and serve as a fairly comprehensive deep-dive on topics ranging from how to build a good team, to how to manage that team remotely. The variety of contributors keep things dynamic and many episodes end up being ‘evergreen’ as the discussions rarely dwell on recent events (with the obvious exception of the pandemic).
10 – Mastering Retention
Good for: Learning about monetization, improving retention, managing LiveOps, interviews with industry experts
Host: Tom Hammond (Maybe)
Recommended episode: Dave Rohrl, the Mobile Game Doctor, on making games better!
Allow me to tell you a tale of mystery. While listening to the Mastering Retention podcast I became increasingly unsettled the more episodes I heard. I had this creeping sensation that something was off. Although, I wasn’t sure exactly what.
Each episode opened with a message informing the listener that the podcast was presented by UserWise.
Nothing wrong there.
Following that, the host introduces an interesting guest with expert knowledge of LiveOps and retention in the games industry.
That was always followed by a fun and informative conversation with said guest.
Exactly what I was looking for.
Finally, there was often a recap at the end, maybe a quick plug, usually some information on where to find out more about the guest, such as their socials.
Well earned and exactly what I would expect.
So, what was the issue?
It was only after sitting down to write this article that I realized. The host never introduces himself. He never mentions his title or says Hi, my name is…
That’s fine, his name must be in the episode descriptions. Right?
How about the website?
I haven’t checked every episode but I listened to a fair few. I even went to the first episode ever published and still came up empty handed. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly why this was unsettling. Podcasting is increasingly a personality-driven business. Sure, some shows put the interviewee front-and-centre and cast the interviewer as a narrator. But rarely do conversational podcasts deemphasize the hosts role as much as Mastering Retention does.
While listening to episodes for any hint of the host’s name, I heard multiple guests refer to him as Tom. After a bit of sleuthing, I discovered that Tom Hammond is the Co-Founder and CEO of UserWise. Huzzah! Have I discovered our mystery host?
Anyway Mastering Retention is good, go listen to it.
11 – The Art of LiveOps
Good for: Monetization tips, learning how to manage LiveOps, interviews with industry experts
Hosts: James Gwertzman, Crystin Cox
Recommended episode: Keys to Killer Community Management w/ Rich Vogel: S2E6
LiveOps may not be considered an art form by most but this podcast makes a good case for it being exactly that. Presented by Microsoft’s Azure PlayFab and hosted by James and Crystin, also of Microsoft. The Art of LiveOps is one of the most well-produced and consistently high-quality podcasts on this list.
Each episode starts with a fun back-and-forth between the hosts where they discuss the upcoming interview with an expert on LiveOps. And each episode ends with the hosts asking the guest for a LiveOps disaster story that they were involved in. The quality of guests is high and episodes are snappy and fun, usually coming in at under an hour.
12 – Levelup+
Good for: Useful insights into mobile game development, interviews with industry experts, short episodes
Hosts: Melissa Zeloof
Recommended episode: Starberry Games | What I wish I knew when: Pitching to Investors
Levelup+ describes itself as “The place for people who love making, growing, and of course playing mobile games.” And, that’s exactly what it is. As you might have guessed, each episode is an interview with an expert in the field of mobile game development and/or publishing. The host, Melissa, does a great job of extracting useful insights from guests while keeping the conversation running at a fair clip. Most episodes come in at (or under) half an hour. With the odd one running up to an hour or more. That means that most episodes are bite-sized and can easily be binged.
Adding a little flavor to the standard interview fare is the ongoing series “What I wish I knew when” A series in which Melissa asks the guest what they wish they knew during a specific circumstance they experienced. Such as having to choose a publisher or trying to monetize their game.
The podcast is also presented by ironSource, a platform for helping mobile developers publish, monitor, and monetize their apps.
13 – Mobile GameDev Playbook
Good for: Insight into mobile game development, interviews with industry experts, short episodes
Hosts: John Jordan, Joel Julkunen
Recommended episode: Episode 8: Social Games: What are the social must-have features that help create global hits? Featuring Teatime Games
Mobile GamDev Playbook has a great logo. I mean look at it! That’s a logo that makes me want to listen to their podcast. Every time I scroll past it in my podcast app my eyes are drawn to it. Colorful, fun, and it communicates the theme. Perfect. Luckily, if you do get sucked in by the great logo, you’ll have an equally great podcast to listen to.
This podcast, like many others on the list, involves discussions with industry experts. Specifically experts on mobile games. Unlike most, however, those discussions are not just straightforward interviews. Instead, experts are invited to discuss a particular topic such as economy design, player motivations, or how to work with licensed IP. The two hosts, John and Joel, usually have a lot more to say in these discussions than a standard interview and the result is a much more collaborative feel than other similarly structured podcasts.
Mobile GameDev playbook is made by GameRefinery, a company that provides data and analytics that mobile developers can use when building their game.
14 – The Business of Video Games
Good for: An insight into the inner-workings of a large publisher
Hosts: Daniel Goldberg, Shams Jorjani
Frequency: Monthly (intermittent)
Recommended episode: What makes a Paradox Game?
The Business of Video Games is a unique podcast in that it’s made by a large publisher (Paradox Interactive) and it almost exclusively features news, interviews, and discussions that are specifically relevant to Paradox. Even more interesting, it makes absolutely no apologies about that fact.
The hosts are both active Paradox employees. Namely: Daniel Goldberg, the Chief Marketing Officer, and Shams Jorjani, the Chief Business Development Officer. They are regularly joined by other members of the Paradox team in order to discuss different elements of making and publishing games. The conversations are light but on point and it serves as a surprisingly direct and candid view into one of the most successful and influential companies in the industry.
15 – The Psychology of Video Games
Good for: Insight into the psychology of gamers and game makers
Hosts: Jamie Madigan
Recommended episode: Episode 64 – How Can Video Games Make Us Happy?
This is one of the more niche topics you’ll find for a games industry podcast. Luckily, it’s a fascinating one.
The host, Jamie Madigan, is a Ph.D. in psychology and has written multiple books on the subject of psychology in games. He also has a website and blog where he writes extensively about the same. All that’s to say, he knows what he’s talking about.
That, of course, makes him the perfect guy to host this podcast. Which is a fine example of the ‘person who knows a lot about a subject talks to other people who also know a lot about that subject’ genre of podcasts.
If you want to know exactly what you can expect, Jamie describes what he does perfectly on his website: “Whether you want to know about the psychology behind why good game design works, why people act and think as they do when they play games, or how those who market and sell games take advantage of psychological quirks, you’ll find something cool and interesting here.”
That’s all of them! I hope this list helped you find some interesting insights into the business of games. If you had any podcasts you think should be included. Please let me know by commenting below or getting in touch with us directly.