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For a new studio that will be focusing on social, mobile platform games. What are roles do we need to fill and how many of each role would be ideal?

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It really depends on the kind of game you are making - are you doing procedural content or multiple platforms at once? Budget an extra programmer. Multiplayer? Another half a designer at least. The studio founders (I'm guessing there are between 2 and 4) should sit down and do a rough schedule for the first few games, and then figure out what the headcount should be.

Some positions that are easy to overlook:

  • User interface designer/artist - A small studio will probably want to merge the positions, but the importance a good UI cannot be overstated for mobile games.
  • Marketing. Even if it's just your CEO pestering every gaming news site with review codes constantly and your concept-artist-web-designer-art-director putting together a press sheet, you're going to need to budget some person-time for this.
  • Testing and integration. Again, maybe this is just part of a programmer, but you should have someone whose priority is making sure your builds work and don't regress. When you don't have a fully staffed QA department, this is your only defense against 3AM checkins and oh-crap-we-need-this-immediately-for-the-demo changes.
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I'd like to add that you'll probably want to seek out a project manager/producer with a fair amount of mobile game development experience under his/her belt. When starting a company, it's imperative that you have an expert(s) on staff that can help with strategic and development decisions, and the project management role fulfills that need perfectly. –  Ari Patrick Oct 23 '10 at 19:08

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