Publishing 101: When To Partner With A Game Publisher

By David Logan [08.30.18]

Hi! David Logan here, CEO of Akupara Games! We get a lot of questions about the game publishing process and I decided I wanted to write a series of articles to help guide developers throughout decisions surrounding the release of their game. Before we get too nitty gritty, let's start with the biggest decision every developer has to make: should you partner with a game publisher?

Akupara Games is a video game publisher, so it is no secret that we believe publishers can bring value to a lot of games, however that doesn't always mean that a publisher is right for you. I'd like to outline some of the perks publishers can offer, to try to encourage you to consider them as an option for your team and title.

In this article, I will be going over the services and benefits a publisher provides - such as distribution, development support, marketing, and community building. While publishers may offer some of these services, many will not provide all of them. Each publisher will specialize in various areas, so as you read, consider which are most important to you, and let that guide you if you choose to seek out a publisher.

What do Publishers Get?

Publishers are a business too, and have various ways of recouping their costs and making money. In exchange for their assistance, publishers will often receive a revenue share of your game on each platform they work with.

Gross Income vs. Net Income

Revenue share agreements will specify between sharing Gross Income or Net Income.

Share Percentages

Other Elements

Distribution

Getting your game to various platforms is a lot of work with all of the various rules and procedures for each. Mobile platforms tend to be the most straight-forward, but consoles in particular involve a fairly lengthy process. A publisher can handle the entire process from getting approvals, uploading the products, writing the store copy, creating the proper graphics and videos, to actually getting the product approved.

Ratings

You will often need a rating for the various regions around the world you're releasing.

Partner Relationships - Distributors

Partner Relationships - Other


Development

Regardless of where your game development is at, publishers can assist you. Keep in mind that different publishers might be looking for games in different development stages.

Advising

Financing

Porting

QA

Talent

Localization

Marketing

Generally when developers think of needing a publisher, marketing and publicity are the first things that comes to mind. A good publisher will have a wide array of marketing and promotional tools at their disposal for bringing awareness and praise to your title.

Media Outreach

Media Buying

Influencer Outreach

Trailers


Community

Social media and community management are important aspects to any successful game launch. A publisher can help you determine which social platforms your game studio and title should be present on and which kind of content you should be showcasing on each of the channels.

Community Management

Social Media

Social media can be a tough medium to navigate through. It is a valuable tool for digital marketing since you can reach hundreds if not thousands of people if a post goes viral, but it also can be a platform for negative sentiment that you have to manage. Proper knowledge of what is appropriate to post on each platform, valuable and engaging content, and responding can elevate the visibility of a game.

With social media, it is important to note that it should not be just about advertising your game for sales, but a big emphasis should be on building and engaging your audience and answering questions or comments to develop a better sense of community.

Events

When a Publisher Isn't the Right Fit

Retaining full revenue, creative control, and IP ownership is a huge perk for not having a publisher. These are the most common reasons you wouldn't want to use a publisher, and would be better off yourself.

Your Team has the Necessary Skills

The point when you don't need a publisher, is when you're able to accomplish what they can offer on your own. To successfully pull off self-publishing, you should be setup with the following:

Your Team has the Necessary Financing

An alternative would be if you have the financial backing to where you could partner with teams to fill in the gaps for the services you can't provide. Common services you can partner with for would be:

Of course, if you go through the entire pitch process and do not find a publisher that is the right fit for you, that doesn't mean your game won't succeed. Often a game with a small release on one platform can gain momentum and become more attractive to publishers later.

Stay tuned for our next article on game publishing - "How do You Find the Best Game Publisher for Yourself?"

If you have any lingering questions, or feel I missed something, let us know on our social media @AkuparaGames on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Discord!

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