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My 2 cents on publishers

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Hello fellow developers, this post is fairly short, but from my two year business experience in the budget game developer industry I have come to one conclusion: The best publisher on earth is...you. Nobody will do better publicity for your game than you can do yourself by posting in all message boards, uploading it everywhere, posting to news sections, sending it to magazines, etc. And in the end you will get the results of your work - all FOR YOU. No crappy 10 percent. All! If you now say: I tried it and my game has not sold two copies in six months. Then something happened to you that I guess happens to most independend developers. But the same would have happened if a (so called) publisher would have taken your product. I guess most times (Yes! most times!) its not the publisher who is wrong (or dishonest), but your game is not (no not good enough) not popular enough. Just my 2 cents. Now I go back in my hut and be quiet. Live long and happy - I will!

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You should advertise your butt off no matter who you go through.

Ben
http://therabbithole.redback.inficad.com


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Great deal. You advertise your ass off yourself and still only get 10 percent.

Its your children you want to send through school, not your publisher ones.

Edited by - Jester101 on July 20, 2001 3:17:45 AM

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Its true that you can make a lot more per unit by selling yourself. When someone registers Asteroid Miner or Rocky Racers in their shareware version I get 2 or 3 times the amount I get when I sell the same game through a publisher. In fact with some publishers you never seem to see the money at all.
BUT
when you find a good publisher (like RealGames) you sell a LOT more units than otherwise, simply because they give your game high visibility. At one stage I could tell how near the top of the page at RealGames my StarLines game was by the number of units it sold per day. Now its relegated to the bottom of their strategy section it sells much fewer (though still more than it would as pure shareware).
Of course we can all help each other sell more copies by working together more as a community. We need a good, reliable community of banner-ad swapping, link exchanges and pooling of resources. In other words if you discover a service/company/ftp site that really helps you as an Indie developer... LET US ALL KNOW!

http://www.positech.co.uk

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The problem is you never know how it would have sold by self-published Shareware.

For sure this is a pessimistic view of publishers. Its great if you have found a better publisher!

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With Teen Productions you get 100% of your asking price.

DigiBuy you get 86.1% of what they sell it for. I''m not sure how they set the price. Probably the same way I do or close to it. They may not allow the author to set their price. I have about a 20-30% mark-up myself to cover costs.

Publishers and distibuters aren''t all evil.

The reason major Publishers take a huge chunk is because it takes a huge chunk in costs to produce a professionally packaged game. You have have written the game but after everyone gets their hands on it (marketing, box and label designers, printers, artists, ect) you really havn''t done the majority of the work.

Demanding more than what they give you from a publisher is like demanding some people don''t get paid just so you can have an extra buck or two.

Have you ever gone to a major publisher and asked where all the money goes or do you assume it just goes into a greedy person''s pocket?

I''ll be sending the author a reciept containing a list of all the costs with each sale so they know what''s going on with the money.

Ben
http://therabbithole.redback.inficad.com

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"The reason major Publishers take a huge chunk is because it takes a huge chunk in costs to produce a professionally
packaged game. You have have written the game but after everyone gets their hands on it (marketing, box and label
designers, printers, artists, ect) you really havn''t done the majority of the work."


I Beg to differ, the people who develop the game (programmers/Artists/musicians/etc) do the vast majority of the work - there is no two ways about that.


Publishers do have to recoup their costs and make a nice profit, but they also do seem to think that they can control the developers - and they are correct.

However, to say that publishers do the majority of the work and to argue that asking for money is like taking another person wage is laughable, because it''s not. Major publishers are major because they make a very nice chunk of money ON TOP of what they''ve earned from the work they''ve put in. If this wasn''t the case, then why are they Major? The only exceptions are those developers who can command how the publishers handle their work (like Lionhead/Rare) , but the publishers know that they are going to earn a huge amount of these teams, no matter what.


Publishers aren''t evil, they are just out to make money. It''s a simple as that.





Marc Lambert

marc@darkhex.com

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Cliffsky: "In fact with some publishers you never seem to see the money at all."

Any specific example you would like to mention?
Also did you get the money for the 150000 copies sold of Star Miner?

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I stand corrected.

Ben
http://therabbithole.redback.inficad.com
http://www.teenproductions.com

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@KalvinB: Thank you. I am long enough in the biz to know what it costs. When I talked about publishers I meant companies like egames or xtreme games, not regnow or getsoftware that handle your creditcart orders.

While tricky to get it in stores yourself - it is not impossible. I rather spend the 300$-400$ to package my game myself.

<<<<>>>>
Excuse me but that's exactly what I want to have. I don't care about a single employee of any publisher. I worked on the game one or two months and want to get paid what righteously belongs to me.

@mlambert:

<<<>>>
Yes, thats what I wanted to say in my post. And that you can do the same - for yourself.

@everyone:
With this post I wanted to show you a possible different way. It is in no way my intention on making anyone bad. From my EXPERIENCE I know though, that the only thing you need is a good game (in terma of a POPULAR game) and not a publisher. Other people like cliffsky may have different experiences though. But I honestly believe Star Lines would have sold very good as normal Shareware too - maybe not so many sales, but he would have got a higher percentage of the profit.

Maybe the best solution would be to first try to sell the game as much as you can and when the sequel is finished you still can give the first game to a publisher.








Edited by - Jester101 on July 21, 2001 2:38:59 AM

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I''m not particularly experienced in this field, but it seems to me that the goal of a company/individual''s first game should be to build up as large of a userbase as possible, many of whom will probably purchase the next game released by the company no matter how it''s released. So, the first game should be released via a publisher like RealNetworks, AND you should do your best to publicize on your own. Then the next game you can go the same route, or you can opt to release it on your own and still expect at least a good portion of those users to purchase it whereas if you didn''t have that userbase you couldn''t expect that.

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Has any research been done on the costs and methods of advertising for games?

How to get a game into a store would be really good info. Phone numbers and addresses, ect.

I''ll be working on production methods and costs next week.

Ben
http://therabbithole.redback.inficad.com
http://www.teenproductions.com








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@Kevin:

Advertising in a games mag. costs you about 5000$ > a page.
Banner advertising on download.com costs similiar amounts.
Premium positions for your game on other download sites are negotiable and dependend on the site. You can expect anything between 100$ and again 5000$.

For the covermount edition of Smugglers 2 I will take some small advertising pics. With a range of 1.5 million people for the covermount edition in Germany I will charge about 100$ for each rotating banner ad and 500$ for a permanent banner. If someone is interested: e-mail: contact@nbsd.de

<<<>>>>
Call the call center of the appropriate store and ask for a person responsible for your case. At least in Germany that''s all you need to do to get to the right persons.

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Publishers upfront money to devolpers, they handle all the advertisement, marketing, QA, liscensing, and more. In general, they take all the monetary risks. I don''t see posts here crying when publishers lose money on games, while the devolpment house is unaffected. If I took most of the monetary risks, I would expect most of the monetary rewards, plain and simple.


Mike

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We are obviously talking about budget publishers which don''t pay the development of a game and only in very very rare cases pay advances.

Also I never have seen a publisher cry when a developer lost money. Hell, do you think development costs no money? Yes, a kid at home programming maybe does not lose money. But the serious people here already have a degree or at least - like me - are studying.

I want to clarify though that I am not crying or bitching about anything. If I were them I would do the same. But because I am not a publisher I can tell everyone to be sly and avoid them.

If you want to do a fullprice game and a publisher finances the project from the beginnng - fine go ahead. I''ve never seen anyone on this (business) board developing like this though.

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if publishers want to cry they should go to gamepub.net or dirtymorons.com but this site is for developers I think. and about the attitude of publishers they simply need to compete with each other so the dirtiests get the most money, whatever

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