A noob's questions about publisher...

SomaelCK

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I got a contact from a certain indie game publishing company, which said they are interested in my current game project and would like to handle publishing and distribution. They said they take a percentage of the revenue generated, no upfront payment nor upfront fee.

I have some questions for commercial RM devs out here. (It sounds really noob-ish, because I am XD)

- What are the general benefits, risk and drawback of working with a publisher.

- Is there anything we have to be careful of when making deal, to avoid possible exploitation?

- Would selling the game on our own be better than getting a publisher, in general?

Thanks in advance for your time  :)

 
 

Kes

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Before you even think of going with a publisher, do a very thorough check on whether they have in fact ever got a game out successfully.  It is most unusual for a publisher to approach a dev, particularly when the dev is new and has no completed games in their catalogue.  So my first questions would be: who are they? why have they contacted me?  how do they even know I exist? what's their track record?

Sorry if this sounds a bit sceptical, but you do need to exercise some prudence on this.
 

SomaelCK

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Before you even think of going with a publisher, do a very thorough check on whether they have in fact ever got a game out successfully.  It is most unusual for a publisher to approach a dev, particularly when the dev is new and has no completed games in their catalogue.  So my first questions would be: who are they? why have they contacted me?  how do they even know I exist? what's their track record?

Sorry if this sounds a bit sceptical, but you do need to exercise some prudence on this.
Actually, that baffled me too about why they approached in the first place, because it's unusual. But I got some exposure for my games (Since I had managed to get a booth at TGS 2013, last year and showed some of my projects there) . Probably from there, or from all those indie game sites I have put my project on.The publisher itself is fairly new, but they got some famous games under their track record.
 

Andar

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A good publisher can help your game a lot - they handle some advertising and have the contacts to get your game known out there and much more. Don't forget that it'll take money to advertise your own game through more than forum posts..


However, a bad publisher can also do a lot of harm to your reputation as a developer if they present or advertise the game in a wrong way - so if that is a new publisher who hasn't got a name yet, I would be careful to make sure that nothing goes wrong (unintentionally, but inexperience can do a lot of harm).


And always compare several possible publishers, not all give the same options for similiar money...
 

Omegas7

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- What are the general benefits, risk and drawback of working with a publisher.
It will depend on the contract you're signing.

- Is there anything we have to be careful of when making deal, to avoid possible exploitation?
Look at your contract.

- Would selling the game on our own be better than getting a publisher, in general?
I had found two advantages with mine:

  • They built an userbase several months before the actual release. The first couple days there were around 50-60k "likes" overall.This is partly because they already have a game network, and used cross-promotion services to aid with my game.As you may expect, a disadvantage is that obviously my game became part of such network and as such, it had to advertise the other products in the network in return. This may look a bit unprofessional for your game (in my case it didn't matter because it is for iPhone anyway).
[*]Funding. It is easy to negotiate with our publishers. For a moment we required an extra $20k, and we came with an arrangement in a day or two.
[*]Commercial feedback. Look, obviously your publisher wants to make the most profit. They won't lie to you if you need some mediation about how to make them most of your product.
My advice is to let them help you build an userbase. After that, your future games may not require a publisher, because your first game already created an initial userbase for you to use.
 
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Gigglemoo

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Most (digital) distribution can be handled yourself very easily. There's no reason to give a middleman a cut just for that.


You should talk to the other people who've worked with them and ask what they've brought to the table.
 

Omegas7

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Most (digital) distribution can be handled yourself very easily. There's no reason to give a middleman a cut just for that.
Distribution is easy, but reaching the right audience can be tricky. The best thing that the middleman offered us was the fact that they owned a network with several games of the same genre as mine, so it was easy to drive their players to my game using cross promotions ("like" this game and receive X reward etc...). It's as if all Final Fantasy games had a little banner pointing to my RPG, which is a great help.

Truly, the percentage the middleman takes can indeed be somewhat substantial and not quite attractive, but it's probably the safest way to kickstart your business - after the first or second games, you may not need a publisher anymore.
 

SomaelCK

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Thanks guys, that helps a lot!

Now, time to do some decision making :)


P.S : Oh... someone got banned?
 

Aceri

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Also don't forget that with publishers, that "We'll take a percentage" is actually "We'll take about 80% of your revenue, and give you just enough to make another game."
 

SomaelCK

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Also don't forget that with publishers, that "We'll take a percentage" is actually "We'll take about 80% of your revenue, and give you just enough to make another game."
According to them, they promised we holds the larger portion of revenue... XD
 

seita

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It all comes down to the contract/agreement and what is written on it. Probably in most cases the publisher will pay you just enough to work and complete the game, so you're essentially given a salary. In other cases it may be an agreement between you and the publisher that one of you will receive a specified sum of the profit from sales of the game for a certain amount of time, often 6 months to a year, or for as long as they have it for sale.
 

West Mains

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According to them, they promised we holds the larger portion of revenue... XD

Have a contract that states this. Not only for your own protection but also that way if they take more than their fair share you can sue them out the wazoo.

edit edit

whoops wrong thread
 
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Aceri

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My personal opinion is that for your first couple games you should just freelance it. Get your game published places on your own because if career game making is something you wanna do, you're going to need all the revenue you can get from your first couple of games.

I mean with sites like GOG or BFG(I don't know if they still take RM games) and Steam Greenlight, you really don't need a publisher. I mean if your RM game is good enough EB will publish it in their games market also I believe.

Who knows, you might find you have a knack for marketing.

Edit:

Plus if you want to make the game of your dreams, a publisher isn't really the way to go. Yeah sure the money they will put out to help you develop might sound enticing, but they won't give you the time to make it. Publishers put deadlines and requirements on the developer that really stifles game creativity. The only reason why AAA game companies are able to get away with it is because they have a whole team of highly trained(hopefully) professionals putting more than 40+ hours a week for up to a few years on their game. And they're only given that big of a time extension because they are a triple A company. They're not going to give Average Joe Bob a sum of money to help build a game and let you take like two or three years to make it. You got a deadline, if you don't meet it, you're screwed.

If you don't know how to read a publishing contract, then just don't get into bed with one. Sell enough games to hire a lawyer to read the contract for you if a publicist is really the way you wanna go.

That's just my two cents.

 
 
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Sharm

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I understand why you came to this conclusion Aceri, but it's not always the best choice. I'm only doing tiles sets but I'm using Degica as my publisher. On my own all of the profits would be mine but I just don't have the userbase that Degica can offer. Their cut is more than made up for in the volume of sales their userbase can provide. This is how it should work if you go to a publisher, no matter if you're new or an old hat. Even if it's a large cut if they can promise enough volume of sales that big cut can be worthwhile. You just have to decide if you can reach those people yourself, if the marketing angle is worth your time, and what size your possible market is. If it's a small market you may be able to hit full saturation of it on your own.
 

Aceri

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Well your situation isn't like a typical game development publisher like say an Activision or EA. Being as how you release content packs, you're basically paying them to host your product. I mean maybe they expect a certain amount of packs out of you per year, I don't know what your contract states.

Edit:

Eh disregard that, I can't think straight. I just got back from the dentist and my face is friggin' killing me I can't form a decent cohesive sentence right now.

And yeah he probably got banned because he forgot the rules.

First rule of signing a publishing contract:

You do not talk about your publishing contract.
 
 
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Andar

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The percentage of a cut a publisher takes also depends on when you get paid and what you have ready - some publishers work on the assumption that the game is not yet complete and that they pay in advance, hoping that you complete the game in time, and then they of course expect a better part of the money compared to if you have the game already complete and they can put it online next day.


Also, you should keep in mind that almost every merchant needs to double a price just to break even and being able to live from it.


If you check the accounts of any reliable shop for regular items (not special sales), then you'll find that ha paid about half the price he charges his customers to the factory producing it. And after transport costs, shop rent, taxes and possibly paying helpers in the shop, doubling the price he paid for usually barely leaves enough income that the shop owner can live on that.


In the case of a big publisher with a large customer base, especially if the publisher handles advertisement to get your game known out there, a 50% cut is reasonable. Or how much do you want to pay for advertisements to get people to your unknown personal page after completing the game? not to mention the webspace cost needed for a shop system where you can sell the game on your page?


It always depends on the exact contract - for example, are you allowed to sell the game through several publishers or do they want the game exclusive? if exclusive, they should pay you more and I wouldn't agree to a minor share - but if you can sell it elsewhere at the same time, then a minor share can still be profitable.
 

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