Video Game Publishers Quick Jump / Table of Contents
What do Video Game Publishers do?
Real publishers can offer a wide range of services including funding, localization, hardware compatibility, market expertise, marketing, communication, etc.
It really depends on the services you are after, but you should try to get a contractual quantification for every aspect (if PR, for example, number of articles in x different magazines, physical presence at x showrooms booths, budget for a trailer, budget for an ads campaign, etc.), so that you pay only if the target goals have been met.
Do I need a full agency, how do I know what I need?
You don’t negotiate just a single service the way you discuss a full deal (funding, positioning, tracking, marketing, distribution, QA, localization, support, etc.) It depends on the size of your project, and the state of your product (already having a big community, for example).
Yeah, there will be a bunch of people who will try to take your money for basically nothing at all. But as we said, a good publisher will provide a lot of services that you probably couldn’t do on your own. Showcasing your game at conventions, promoting your game on social media with teasers and trailers, get some influences to play your game on Twitch, localize your game, help you get dev kits, the list goes on.
Then when discussing with an editor, you should try to ask what they provide, see what games they published before, how successful those games were, etc. If you can, try to talk with people who are currently working with them or worked with them before.
Check their previous games and how they were promoted. Make sure you get a written contract detailing what the publisher has to do.
There are some good deals to be made, with real added value. Just avoid “fake publishers” with no experience or structure that may contact you on social networks. We can all agree that individuals with no visibility, only doing minimal PR via re-tweeting to a non-existing audience, are just scammers.
Figure out which of these are negotiable/compromisable ie perhaps you’ve been saving for centuries and don’t need funding but because you’ve been shored up in a cave for so long you simply cannot get the word out (so money–, PR++, marketing++ etc).
Then using these needs as a rubric you can do a more pointed search with a better chance of the returns being useful and valuable.
I have an Idea for a Game, how do I get Published?
The first step is to make something that gets publishers’ attention. This doesn’t always mean a demo, a well enough defined Game Design Document or mockups can work wonders as well.
You can pitch a game to a publisher based on just an idea. They will look at what you have so far to make their determination as to whether they want to invest in you or not. So if you have a good track record of shipped games, that helps immensely. If you already have a team lined up to make the game, that also helps. Anything to compress the budget and timeline is preferable. But if you only have concepts, you can still pitch the game idea to them and they will make the determination for if they want to fund it or not.
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