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Go to a publisher?

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I'm working on a project that's scheduled to be finished in winter of 2005. It's still in the design phase, but I'm running into a dilemma. From how the design is looking so far, I can not sustain this project as an indie developer. If I want to bring this game to it's full potential, then I'm going to need a lot more funding than I have now. So my choices are: 1. try to pay for it myself 2. go to a publisher and have them fund and publish the game 3. find someone enthusiastic about the game, and ask them to fund it What do you suggest I do? Are there any other options that I haven't metioned? I need help, and this is a very important decision. Dr. Mean

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Sorry to say the following..... Publishers will not fund for game development. Paying for it yourself would be good but, if you went down this route, you would need to make sure that you have publishers in place who would be interested in selling the game once it was finished. If you can find someone enthusiastic to fund your game then, wow!. However!, if/when you do apply for funding, from whatever source, they will need to see your business plan.

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Hi,
Get an Alpha version working, just one two levels with simple graphics but all in its place. Once you get that you will find the answer to your question is easier.

Luck!
Guimo

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How complete should a game be before you pitch it to publishers? Guimo, you said a couple levels with simple graphics, but if the publisher is used to getting something more polished, that's probably not going to do it. Are the publishers used to getting something sketchy but playable, or something reasonably complete?

Of course, the sequel should be easier to sell :)

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How polished a game should be before you show it to a publisher depends completely on who you are. If you are a team of people who have made games in the past, you may be able to get funding for an alpha/ prototype. If you don't have a lot of experience as a group, you will need to be nearly beta to raise any money.

Publishers know that most teams can't finish a big polished game. Most of them have been burned at one time or another with an impressive demo or pitch so that now no one will take a risk on anything like that. They also know that the biggest indicator of future success is past success.

An 'angel' investor is a different story.

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I have a team, but I'm the only true developer and manager, so to speak. I couldn't ask anyone online to fund or help me fund my project.

Quote:

Sorry to say the following..... Publishers will not fund for game development. Paying for it yourself would be good but, if you went down this route, you would need to make sure that you have publishers in place who would be interested in selling the game once it was finished. If you can find someone enthusiastic to fund your game then, wow!. However!, if/when you do apply for funding, from whatever source, they will need to see your business plan.


Publishers will indeed fund the developement (you're thinking of distributors probably). On the down side, they get the rights to is usually, and change it as they see fit.

I can't pay for it myself... now that I think about it. I just can't.

I might just seek someone to fund the project. And yes, they probably will want to know my plan.


Quote:

Hi,
Get an Alpha version working, just one two levels with simple graphics but all in its place. Once you get that you will find the answer to your question is easier.

Luck!
Guimo


Yeah I did plan to have an alpha version ready for any publisher that I was going to show it to. But I never thought of actually making my decision then.

I really need to have some idea of where I'm going, or else I'll be lost.



Quote:

How complete should a game be before you pitch it to publishers? Guimo, you said a couple levels with simple graphics, but if the publisher is used to getting something more polished, that's probably not going to do it. Are the publishers used to getting something sketchy but playable, or something reasonably complete?

Of course, the sequel should be easier to sell :)


Ahh well, that's not really my concern.








I'm not sure. Here are my predictions:


If I fund it myself...

The game's visuals will be weak and skimpy. The music will remain decent (as I at least have enough software to make it so). The enigine will be mediocre. I wont be satisfied with the quality. I'll probably get it into stores through a distributor, but there might end up being no profit. If I ever decided later that I wanted to bring it to a publisher, they'd take all the rights, money, change the design, and redo all the graphics and sound making all my past efforts futile.


If I go to a publisher right now...

The same thing would happen. They'd take the rights, change the design, and redo all the resources of the game. However I am almost certain it would make it to stores... A bitter sweet ending.


If I get funding, then go to a distributor...

Probably my best option, but difficult to find someone that enthusiastic about it. I'd spend all the money wisely. The graphics, engine, and sound would be superb. The design would stay the same. I'd bring it to a distributor. They'd hopefully get it in stores. They'd take some profits, not as much as a publisher would though.




I don't know. What do you think I should do? Did I miss anything?


Thanks for your help,
Dr. Mean



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Ah, I meant to add also that any potential funders will be looking at the people, not the game idea and you will have to make sure your biz plan and financials are strong in order to entice anyone to fund your development.

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I'm working on a project that's scheduled to be finished in winter of 2005. It's still in the design phase


I don't want to be a party pooper, but you stand about 0.001% chance of anyone wanting to fund this. Why would a publisher or investor fund your project when:

- It's only in the design phase
- You are probably with an unknown team (you do have a team and development studio, software etc. ready to go right?)
- The game can be created in less than one year! (you must at least allocate 2-4 months for beta, debugging, etc.)

You should at least try to be realistic.

Quote:
If I fund it myself... The game's visuals will be weak and skimpy. I'll probably get it into stores through a distributor..


I'm not so certain distributors will pick your game to stock instead of the games coming along in 2005/2006 ;)

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If I go to a publisher right now...
The same thing would happen. They'd take the rights, change the design..


IF you are lucky enough to even get an email back from this publisher. You are quite optimistic, I'll give you that.

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If I get funding, then go to a distributor...
Probably my best option, but difficult to find someone that enthusiastic about it. I'd spend all the money wisely.


:) (I don't even want to begin to comment on your investor approach).

Publishers are not interested in funding any project people bring along. Nowadays games take 2-5 M USD on average to complete. Unless you have a stunning playable demo (comparable to- or better than games in development now) why would they be interested in providing you with millions?

And do you have your Xbox and PS2 team ready? If it's only PC, there's even less chance of anyone picking this up. On top of that, Microsoft and/or Sony won't even give you permission unless you already have publisher backing...


Mark

[Edited by - Mark Tanner on October 19, 2004 12:10:29 PM]

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Quote:
Original post by Dr Mean
I have a team, but I'm the only true developer and manager, so to speak. I couldn't ask anyone online to fund or help me fund my project.

Dr. Mean

Well, I don't know if there is a legal issue of why you can't ask anyone online to help you fund the project. But! You could always ask for donations through PayPal or similar services.

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Quote:

Get a bank loan on a second mortgage.


Do'h


Quote:

Ah, I meant to add also that any potential funders will be looking at the people, not the game idea and you will have to make sure your biz plan and financials are strong in order to entice anyone to fund your development.


Yeah, I know.



Quote:


I don't want to be a party pooper, but you stand about 0.001% chance of anyone wanting to fund this. Why would a publisher or investor fund your project when:

- It's only in the design phase
- You are probably with an unknown team (you do have a team and development studio, software etc. ready to go right?)
- The game can be created in less than one year! (you must at least allocate 2-4 months for beta, debugging, etc.)

You should at least try to be realistic.


Man, you have me all wrong. I'm not stupid. Obviously I'm not going to go to a publisher with the game still in design. And yes, I have already assembled a team. Our resources are limited, but it's still a team.

As for the 2005 date... well. I don't know. I am going to work my ass off to get it done. But I'm really not experienced enough to be able to tell when it's going to be done.


Quote:


I'm not so certain distributors will pick your game to stock instead of the games coming along in 2005/2006 ;)


Well the ugly fact is, there's so many distributors and publishers out there, that you're bound to get one of them to accept it. It really is just a matter of looking. Plus, hopefully a good design might make up for the mediocre resources.


Quote:

IF you are lucky enough to even get an email back from this publisher. You are quite optimistic, I'll give you that.


Don't use the word luck. I'm working my ass off for this one. I'm trying my damn hardest. And again, I'm almost sure I can get a publisher. In fact, I already know of a specific one that would almost definitely accept my game. o_O


Quote:

:) (I don't even want to begin to comment on your investor approach).


Well obviously, because you don't anything about it.


Quote:

Publishers are not interested in funding any project people bring along. Nowadays games take 2-5 M USD on average to complete. Unless you have a stunning playable demo (comparable to- or better than games in development now) why would they be interested in providing you with millions?


Not the big publishers, no. But again, there are many more choices out there than you think. Plus, I don't need millions. I could seriously deal with $100,000 tops.

Quote:

And do you have your Xbox and PS2 team ready? If it's only PC, there's even less chance of anyone picking this up. On top of that, Microsoft and/or Sony won't even give you permission unless you already have publisher backing...


Whoa now. You're just talking to big. I'm not planning to go to those consoles. You're overestimating how far I want to go with this. However, it will be available for Mac users, Linux, etc. And hopefully I'm going to get an online multiplayer mode in there, which will add significant value to the game.


I don't know... I've found a lot of very talented people to help me out. But they wont work for free.

If you could, just ignore everything else except what I've said. I mean... you don't need to tell me how to spend my money. I just want to know if you think that going to a publisher would be better than funding it myself, and not if I could even get a publisher to take a look at it.


Quote:

Well, I don't know if there is a legal issue of why you can't ask anyone online to help you fund the project. But! You could always ask for donations through PayPal or similar services.


The funding I'm looking for is far over $1000. I can't really ask for that much. Especially when they're doing this work for me. They shouldn't really be paying me. Not that they're not enthusiastic about the project...

And yeah, I've though about asking for donations also (from non team members). I also don't feel right doing that. Plus I doubt I'd be able to raise enough.







This seems like a never-ending plight...

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Well, I have to say I'd be amazed if you got the funding you're looking for.
Quote:


Well the ugly fact is, there's so many distributors and publishers out there, that you're bound to get one of them to accept it. It really is just a matter of looking. Plus, hopefully a good design might make up for the mediocre resources.


I think you'll find this much harder than you think! A good design is nothing from someone who has no prior game released.
Quote:


Not the big publishers, no. But again, there are many more choices out there than you think. Plus, I don't need millions. I could seriously deal with $100,000 tops.

Still big money (which is not yours) and revenues will be less with smaller publishers... unless you don't want your investers or yourselves making any money from it!.

Quote:

I have a team, but I'm the only true developer and manager, so to speak.

This is not so good..what experience does the team have and what management experience do you have that will keep everything going to plan and by everything I mean, project management, financials, the market, payroll, accounting etc...or are you planning in getting the management team in once you have the money?

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by Dr Mean
Not the big publishers, no. But again, there are many more choices out there than you think. Plus, I don't need millions. I could seriously deal with $100,000 tops.


Actually, no, there aren't. In fact, in a certain light, it's easier to raise $5 million than $100,000. The problem is the $100,000 doesn't buy you much, while $5M does. With $5M and an experienced team, the risk is mitigated and there's a chance of profit. $100,000 might be viewed as just throwing the money away, and no one with $100,000 is going to do that.

You may have to do a little more research into the economics of the game business, both from the development/production end and from the marketing/distribution end. You're going to have to *also* look at what other games do in terms of sales and return (they're not the same) to even begin to have an idea of how yours might do. (The short answer is: it'll probably not make money, since many if not most games don't.) Believe me, a $100,000 game sells like a $100,000 game (i.e., not very well). People wouldn't spend $5M-$10M on a top-shelf title's production if they didn't *need* to.

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Original post by Dr Mean
Man, you have me all wrong. I'm not stupid. Obviously I'm not going to go to a publisher with the game still in design. And yes, I have already assembled a team. Our resources are limited, but it's still a team.

Sorry but the previous posters are right. You wont get funding from a publisher because they simply don't fund start-ups unless the WHOLE team have a proven industry track record....

Quote:
As for the 2005 date... well. I don't know. I am going to work my ass off to get it done. But I'm really not experienced enough to be able to tell when it's going to be done.
and this the the reason why. Publishers aren't interested in you working your ass off, they want you to know what you are doing and when it is going to be done by. It costs a lot to make a great game and publishers wont risk it on unproven tallent (even if you do have a great demo).

Quote:
Not the big publishers, no. But again, there are many more choices out there than you think. Plus, I don't need millions. I could seriously deal with $100,000 tops.

Unfortunately the publishers working at the low end of the market (which is what a $100,000 budget is) are even less likely to fund development. They work on very very small margins. That means they can't afford to invest $100,000 into a game that wont be ready for many months. They work on a turnkey bases, which means a developer/publisher comes along with a finished game, they pay them a guarantee and publish it straight away. In this way the time between paying out the money and starting to get it back is short. - The trouble is that this means you need to fund development yourself.

Your options are pretty limited I am afraid. Raise the money to fund it yourself (borrow from the bank/friends/family) or do it as a hobby/volunteer project.

Good luck.

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Well thanks for your advice, but I didn't appreciate you commenting about my design and investor approach when you can't really say what it is.

It's a hard decision... I really have to think about that..............

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Quote:

Well thanks for your advice, but I didn't appreciate you commenting about my design and investor approach when you can't really say what it is.

sorry..have i missed something here? - can't really say what it is...mmnn.
Anyway, Good luck

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Huh? Nevermind.


I think I'm just going to talk it over with my team. I'm sure we can come up with a logical solution. Also, I'm going to seek help from a professional developer, and hopefully a publisher as well.


I'm going to talk to you guys, Dan. Obscure Productions. I need lessons in the world of game business (not developement overall I don't think), I'm not denying that. I do know more than you take it I do, though.


Thanks, you can close this topic now.

Dr. Mean

[Edited by - Dr Mean on October 21, 2004 3:26:20 PM]

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