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So how does the whole publishing thing work ?

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Hi. Im curious about how publishing an independent game works. Im from a film production background so i sort of figured that the publishing of an independent game went like how an independent movie deal goes: 1. Production company makes movie. 2. production company sells movie to distributor. 3. Distributor takes movie and does all the distribution duties-taking all the money they make from it in the process. 4. If movie is a hit , production company gets on the distributors good side. Does a publishing deal for a game work anything like that ? Sorry if im coming off as naive or even dumb but im not a games developer-games isnt my feild of work , film is .However, im real interested in financially producing a game so could anyone educate me in this topic with as much detail as possible? If you could give me some info id be most greatfull.

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There are some exceptions, but in general, the games industry works something like this:

1. Development company builds part of a game they want to make
2. Development company shows this partial game to several publishers
3. After negotiations, publishers may agree to invest in the game, or may agree to invest in the development company, but ask them to work on a different game
4. If a developer already has a standing contract with a publisher, or if a publisher has internal development studios (not uncommon), the publisher decides most of the details of the game to be made
5. The publisher generally establishes a schedule and budget for the game. Developers have to continually show their progress to keep getting funding and support. Publishers often demand certain changes to the game which they feel will help make the game more marketable.
6. Once the game is finished being developed, the publisher takes care of producing actual CDs, boxes, etc. and putting those on shelves. Developers are usually paid by royalties, or in some cases are given a set amount of a publisher's revenue with some bonuses based on sales (common with internal studios, from what I understand). Often the actual tasks of making the game units, shipping them, and distributing them are subcontracted to other firms outside the publisher itself.

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I'm not in the industry but from what I gather it works mostly two ways:

1. You complete a game and "sell" it to a publishing company. They give you some money and/or royalties and then market and sell the game. You may or may not receive royalties for each sale.

2. You show a partially completed game and they support you financially to finish the game. A deal is worked out with royalties/cash for after the game is completed.

If you're not already an experienced industry professional, option 2 is pretty much out. Alot of indie developers go one step down, they complete a game and hire a company to simply market or distribute it (a download portal for example). The company takes a percentage of each sale but you get more control of how your product is finished.

Tom Sloper's Site has a lot more information.

[Edited by - ChurchSkiz on March 31, 2006 8:44:41 AM]

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A "publisher" in the game industry is equivalent to a "distributor" in the movie industry.

A "developer" in the game industry is equivalent to a "production company" in the movie industry. However, a developer may be an independent company, a publisher, or a subsidary of a publisher.

The contract between an independent developer and a publisher can be for one game or a series of games. Terms of the contract can vary greatly depending several factors. Generally, the publisher pays royalties and advances against royalties.

If you intend to finance the development of a game, you will have a much easier time approaching publishers (since you bear most of the risk), but even after the game is complete, there are some major expenses -- manufacturing (including console license fees) and marketing, so publishers are still going to want to see a finished or mostly finished game before they make any decision.

Also, if you are planning on financing a game, you should realize that development costs are measured in millions of dollars these days.

Check out the Business of Game Development forum for more info.

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