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Steven yeah

Advice seeked on self-publishing

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Steven yeah    122
Hi, like to consult everyone's advice on self-publishing. Regarding myself, all my personal experience is in marketing and business aspects of well... (don't laugh) Jewellery , and am not a programmer. i have no experience in the gaming industry, less playing it. I am considering developing, and self-publishing my own Mmorpg. And yes, i am aware of the cost of developing games, and yes, i am financially strong. Anyways, from what i gathered, the functions of a publisher in a MPOG is a) Funding b) distribution (retailing) c) Advertising and Promotion d) Payment issues e) Hosting f) customer support. Of the above functions, the hardest thing i reckon is in distribution, because it involves experience and relationships with the retailers, and hassles such as inventory. It will also consume an obscene amount of management time i reckon. Marketing functions, i can handle myself. Payments, thru vendors. Hosting, thru the national ISP, and C/S, well.. panic laters. :) For distribution, i'll just adopt the standard asian model of free client. Development issues aside, is there any issues or industry details, that i am missing out on, and can any of you industry pros offer any advice to myself? Really appreciate it, thanks.

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Obscure    175
Quote:
Original post by Steven yeah
Regarding myself, all my personal experience is in marketing and business aspects of well... (don't laugh) Jewellery , and am not a programmer. i have no experience in the gaming industry, less playing it. I am considering developing, and self-publishing my own Mmorpg. And yes, i am aware of the cost of developing games, and yes, i am financially strong.

You have no knowledge of the game industry, no knowledge of games and seemingly no actual interest in games. Some might think I am mad but I think you are off to a very good start (with one proviso listed below).

- You know business and a MMPOG has a big business requirement.
- You don't know the industry or games but you recognise that fact, which is the first step to solving the problem.
- You have no passion for games (your passion appears to be more for business).

The above are all good strengths to have provided that you get someone on-board who has a passion for games and understands the the development process. Your game is far more likely to be succesful if it is a great game and that requires experience and passion (and a firm business foundation to stand on while making the game). You can build that foundation but you will need to find someone to stand on it (and trust them to get on with the job).

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Quote:
Original post by Steven yeah
Anyways, from what i gathered, the functions of a publisher in a MPOG is a) Funding b) distribution (retailing) c) Advertising and Promotion d) Payment issues e) Hosting f) customer support.


Not really... Most publishers know even less about payment, hosting and customer support for MPOG's than developers do. The other stuff - the bits they know well which are the same as for single player games (mainly b and c, and customer support *of a compeltely different kind altogether*) - they ought to excel at.

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Of the above functions, the hardest thing i reckon is in distribution.


Um, well, for this kind of game distribution is largely optional (it's potentially a huge additional revenue stream - but seeing as players need to be online to play the game anyway online distribution becomes a lot less painful).

In the words of Gordon Walton (the sims online), "if you could get Customer Service right, you would have the only game on the market that did". i.e. no-one had decent CS for online games when he said that last year.

A lot of people find payments problematic. They can be pretty simple - it just depends how many potential customers you are willing to cut out (at the easiest end, you could just use paypal (!) - very cheap to setup, but drastically reduces your potential market).

Re: marketing, I know of several such games that have earned into the millions without ever spending a penny on marketing. I'm not convinced this is reproducible, but...if the game is good enough, and you're cunning with your marketing, then maybe.

Quote:

and C/S, well.. panic laters. :)


That's like saying "Solvency? Well, panic laters". If you get CS wrong, you go out of business. Don't even think about doing this unless you have sorted out the CS. There are various ways of doing this, from paying IBM to do lots of it for you (several people are trying/considering that route), to limiting your number of players and growing very slowly so that you have time to take on CS staff and train them gradually (bear in mind the 2-4 month lead time to get each new member of staff to the point where they can actually do their new job!)

Quote:

Development issues aside, is there any issues or industry details, that i am missing out on, and can any of you industry pros offer any advice to myself?


I'd strongly advise licensing a technology back-end...but then, I'm a system architect for one of the commercial licensable ones (grexengine), so I would say that, wouldn't I? .

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PS just noticed you're in Australia, hence you have the BigWorld guys on your home patch. So I guess you've already spoken to them about the tech back-end?

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Raduprv    997
Well, we always liked to go independent, and we even have a niderate success (altho we don't make a lot of money yet). First, advertising is crucial, easy to do, and relatively cheap. We had good results advertising on mpogd.com (a MMO only game site). Then you can try to advertise on mmorpg.com and other related sites.
Distribution is easy, as long as you allow free downloads of the game. If you are independent, you can't have your game in a nice box on the store shelves. So allow a free download, and charge for the montly pay.
Hosting is also relatively cheap, maybe 100 USD/month for the website (if you have a really big client, otherwise you can get away with maybe 50/month). The game server hosting is a little more complicated, but 2-300 USD/month should be a fair estimate. Of course, it depends how many users you have online, how optimized your protocol is, what are the server requirements, etc.
Payment can be very easely done via PayPal. PayPal charges you a small fee each transaction, and I don't think you can find a better company that charges a smaller fee.
The customer support can be done via the community forums, usually players like to help eachother. And then you will need a person to respond to various other problems. Then you will need some mods in the game, but you can get away with using volunteers (players that are smart and nice, and wish to help).

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Steven yeah    122
"That's like saying "Solvency? Well, panic laters". If you get CS wrong, you go out of business. Don't even think about doing this unless you have sorted out the CS."

First, how do i quote lines like you guys did? :P

My thoughts is that CS is not a skill intensive function like programming or art. I won't dare to commit myself to this project without first finding a lead in both areas.

For C/S, my plan i have is to first handle all the C/S functions myself, up to a point when it takes up too much of my own time, THEN start hiring and training them myself.



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Quote:
Original post by Steven yeah

For C/S, my plan i have is to first handle all the C/S functions myself, up to a point when it takes up too much of my own time, THEN start hiring and training them myself.


I've worked with people like that before, and it never works out like that. If you're serious about doing this, you'll find your time taken up with lots of other things. To put this into perspective, one MMOG I know that was written by a single author was generating more than 300 support emails per *day* within the first 6-10 months, and that's before they'd started advertising and before they'd got a billing system running - so they didn't have to handle all the payment support and the influx of people from the marketing campaigns.

We wrote a report on this last year and came up with a 12-point plan for "fundamental" elements of a decent C/S plan that any game is going to need and which you want to setup from day one. Some of them are specific software, others are strategies (particular forms of training), etc. It's not long, only around 10 pages off the top of my head, and based on our own experiences as well as interviews with other MMOG developers, and public info published by developers, producers, and community managers. (if you're interested, send a mail to sales @ grexengine.com and ask about "the customer service report from 2003"; I have no idea what the pricing is but I'm guessing it's fairly cheap given the shortness).

redmilamber

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