What does a producer do? In a product driven company, producers are important. They ensure that creative work gets done across all areas, from concept to design, to deployment.
It takes a lot of mental work to juggle all aspects of the project, especially if it's on a tight schedule, and the requirements change. A good producer should be able to have a firm grasp on all the moving parts of the project, and be able to control its direction.
A good producer inspires concept artists to create, breaks it down to simple terms to developers, sits in product reviews, integrate any last minute requirements, and inspires developers to build effective solutions. Occasionally, she should be able to roll up her sleeves, and get the job done, be it in programming, or graphics.
A great producer, on the other hand is one in a million. What's the best metric for evaluating this? Often times, when the final product is good, we consider the producer good. If the final product is fantastic, I would still consider the producer above good, but not great. Only if she can consistently produce fantastic products, can she be bestowed the title 'great producer'.
Often times, we don't hear 'great game producer' in the news, because it's not mainstream enough. An easier way to fathom how great a producer can be, is to look at Hollywood. Steven Spielberg is a great film producer - he's created hits like Saving Private Ryan, Munich, Lincoln, Jaws over a span of 35+ years - and he's won 3 Oscars.
Does that mean, a great game producer should have consistently created Angry Birds, Farmville, Minecraft, Heads-Up and Temple Run? Probably, but that person doesn't exist, because there's just so many more games produced compared to films, making consistent hits difficult to replicate.
A better film producer to compare with, is Robert Rodriguez. Not many mainstream moviegoers know him, but he's consistently created a string of successful, alternative-type movies such as Machete, Planet Terror, El Mariachi, and Sin City. He's got his own style, and he's great at it. Everyone knows a Robert Rodriguez movie, when they see one.
Summary: a great game producer is one that consistently produces hit games within her area of specialty.
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