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Outsourcing Distribution and Tech Support

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Suppose I paid a CD duplication service to create the disks and packaging for my hypothetical game. Where could I find distributors who are willing to evaluate and distribute products created by start-up publishers? Could someone please direct me to distributor websites? I''ve visited the Ingram Micro website, but they seem unlikely to work with a company that hasn''t proven itself successful. I''m also interested in contacting companies who can provide technical support for my product. Should the game prove successful I surely wouldn''t have the resources to manage technical support by myself. So again, could anybody direct me to technical support provider websites? I''d rather not have to distribute the game on my own (through online sales), and I don''t really want to go through a publisher (too much control over my project, and even in the best case I still have to give them console-port and localization rights).

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All I want is a list of game distributors and tech support companies. I sincerely hope someone is able to help with this. Such information would be useful not only to me, but to other independent game developers as well.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Ok dude as for distributors, the major ones are:

* Ingram Micro,''''

one of the biggest,but your already checked it.

* Merisel,''''

also one of the biggest and among their 100''s of
tech parnters they handle distribution for Microsoft,
EIDOS, Activision, 3DO, and Access (NOT TO MENTION EVERY
to fill out a profile application to be accepted, even if
you are new, but they require good financial standing.

* SVG,''''

they are big and international, but I beleive they are
only for CONSOLE games.

* Jack of all Games,''''
although the link has been broken for a while.

they handle big companies like sony and gathering of
developers, and I beleive they are the easiest to deal
with if you are a new startup. (if you get lucky and
access their web site).

* Electronic Arts Distribution (not publishing),

very hard to get accepted as partner(must be a very good
product), but try, this people will get any game to any
retail outlet even if its on Mars. They handle the
likes of NOVALOGIC and SquareSoft. They also provide tech
support to your customers (local and international).


As for tech support, the only ones that offer it (that I know of) are Absolute Quality,
They provide testing and/or tech support for your game. They might be a little bit expensive (not sure but I think $48 and hour).

I hope the above info was helpful to you and others on the board.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Ok, I m the same guy who posted the above info on dist/tech. Just forgot to ask you this: Are you sure you want to do your own publishing? (I m not trying to put you down or anything, just a reality check) to do this you need lots and lots of *MONEY*, and I m talking millions here.

Lets see, you got Manufacturing, Marketing, Localisation and Post-sales support.

* Manufacturing: It depends on how many units you wish to do in the begining and the quality of the packaging so it could be anywhere from $1.50 to $3.00.
(dont forget that the above distributers have minimum req., which is a lot more than a 1,000 unit.)

* Marketing: could be the most expensive part of publishing. You may have an amazing game, but unless you cover all areas of marketing (and not just online stuff) and let them know it exists, it wont sell. Big publishers have huge marketing department with hundreds of ppl working in them split up in groups each handling a game, and these groups include managers, designers, artists and so... just to ensure the widest and most impressive coverage of their games.

* Localisation, may not be important for you, but if you want to tackle the huge international markets you need to modify your games (and not only the translations in them)and this is very costly. You also need to know the laws in these countries.

* Post-Sales Tech support, Ok you want to outsource this one, but still its not cheap.

*** GOOD and EXPENSIVE LAWYERS, as you need them to battle the big beasts out there.

If you think your game is that good as to go full distributions with these companies and talking about console ports, I suggests you start with one of the big publishers first, you might get a good deal, specially if your game is finished and AAA quality. And no they dont have to have full control of it(console ports or engine license, etc.) you can retain all these rights (thats where a good lawyer steps in).

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First and foremost I thank you for replying to my post. I must confess I wasn''t quite considering the large initial investment required for large-scale publishing. Perhaps it''s not my best option after all. Regardless, it''s good to understand what the various distribution opportunities are.

A publisher might be ideal if I can retain legal rights and artistic control over my game. I''m not opposed to granting console rights to the publisher as long as it''s a limited-time arrangement. Once the contract expires I should be able to market and distribute my own console ports, and they should not be able to market theirs.

Regarding localization, I can understand why it may be necessary, but my opinion of it is not necessarily positive. While I can appreciate having access to, say, english translations of japanese games, my reaction is quite different when I''m able to understand the original language. Meaning is often lost in translations, so the original is often superior. As for complying with foreign laws, my opinion is that if a game in its original form is illegal in a particular country, it might as well not be sold there at all. I''m very much opposed to sanitizing content, although I''m certainly not designing the sort of game that would warrant this sort of treatment.

Thank you very much for your reply. If I can find a publisher who is willing to negotiate its policies it would certainly be a better option (in terms of money and effort, that is) than going independent.

PS - I''m thinking far ahead of myself. The game is still in the design phase and as such is a long way off.

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I too would suggest going with a publisher/distributor on a first product. Given that you are funding the development (I assume you ARE funding the development) you can sign a deal when the title is close to completion. You will get a better deal and also retain creative/copyright control. Publishers like EA do co-publishing deals in this sort of situation where you get a much better royalty and retain the rights while they pay for the marketing, sales and inventory.

As for localisation it is essential if you want a succesful product in Europe. Most European publishers have extensive experience of producing high quality translations. Just make sure this is done in the actual country iteslf. Do not use a US based localisation company as the result will not be as well received.

Dan Marchant

Edited by - Obscure on June 6, 2000 3:33:12 AM

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