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How hard is it start a game porting company?

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I really like the idea of porting. Taking an old game and enhancing it for current generations. What I really like is that not many people are required. You dont need a full blown team of artist, musicians, designers. since you are not creating any new asseets. But how hard is it to start a porting company, is it easier than a full blown video game dev company?

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I don't think it's even feasible to just start a 'porting' company out of the blue without any previously published titles to be completely honest with you. Porting means you'll be dealing with licensing issues, you'll need access to the original source code and assets of the game you'll be porting and you'll need to gain the rights to actually create and publish the port. The original developer/publisher of the game you'll be porting will actually be handing over their intellectual property to you, which is quite a risk. This really doesn't sound like an easy or cheap task if you ask me, definitely not easier than creating your own intellectual property.

Of course I am not a lawyer, nor am I an expert at these things so I can be completely wrong here, but these are just my two cents.

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how hard is it to start a porting company, is it easier than a full blown video game dev company?


It's damned hard. Yes, it's less hard than starting a turnkey development company, but it's still hard. Why do you ask if it's hard? Why don't you just ask how to do it?

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Starting *ANY* successful business is hard.

It doesn't matter if that business is a game studio, an investment banking firm, or a convenience store, it is still hard.

A porting company will be less work, just like creating a franchise restaurant is easier than creating one from scratch. Easier, but still hard.

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[quote name='Radikalizm' timestamp='1352752661' post='5000316']
Porting means you'll be dealing with licensing issues, you'll need access to the original source code and assets of the game you'll be porting and you'll need to gain the rights to actually create and publish the port. The original developer/publisher of the game you'll be porting will actually be handing over their intellectual property to you, which is quite a risk. This really doesn't sound like an easy or cheap task if you ask me, definitely not easier than creating your own intellectual property.
Of course I am not a lawyer, nor am I an expert at these things so I can be completely wrong here, but these are just my two cents.


Radikalizm, you beat me to the first response. Sorry that I have to correct some assumptions. I have a lot of experience getting games ported.
First thing you need to understand that the porting developer doesn't just jump in and go "I think I'll port that game and then take it to the publisher as a fait accompli." The publisher seeks out the developer and requests the porting service. So the licenses, rights, source code, and assets are all handed over to the developer by the publisher. The developer does not have to go acquire those things.
The big challenge is still getting contracts, which means that the developer still needs some development credentials.
As I said in my response above, it is easier than creating games as a turnkey developer, but it is still not by any means "easy."
[/quote]

I understand those things, and I might not have worded this correctly in my original post.
What I wanted to point out to the original poster is that I can't really see it as feasible for a starter company without any proven development experience (read: released quality titles) to just get these offers from a publisher, as the publisher would be taking a serious risk by doing this. Maybe I'm seeing this wrong, but I would assume that a studio could only realistically get such a porting offer from a publisher if the studio already has a good reputation within the industry. Of course I could be completely wrong about this though.

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I understand those things, and I might not have worded this correctly in my original post.
What I wanted to point out to the original poster is that I can't really see it as feasible for a starter company without any proven development experience (read: released quality titles) to just get these offers from a publisher, as the publisher would be taking a serious risk by doing this. Maybe I'm seeing this wrong, but I would assume that a studio could only realistically get such a porting offer from a publisher if the studio already has a good reputation within the industry. Of course I could be completely wrong about this though.


A publisher takes a much greater risk by having a developer create a complete game.
There's much less risk in having a developer simply port a game.
Many developers have to "pay their dues" by doing ports for a while before they build up the reputation to get full projects.

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A publisher takes a much greater risk by having a developer create a complete game.
There's much less risk in having a developer simply port a game.


I see, that makes sense, I hadn't looked at it from that angle yet.

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So how would I go about making a porting company. Im just playing around/ just curious how it works. Don't really plan to though as im justa hobbyist

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So how would I go about making a porting company. Im just playing around/ just curious how it works. Don't really plan to though as im justa hobbyist


The way most people do it is by being a professional, working in the industry, for several years. This builds up contacts and experience and credentials, as discussed in FAQ 29: http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson29.htm

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I don't think it's even feasible to just start a 'porting' company out of the blue without any previously published titles to be completely honest with you.


Beenox started that way. Of course it became one of many Activision studios over time and produces Spiderman Titles now, so its definitely not impossible. They started out by porting games to PC.

You dont need a full blown team of artist, musicians, designers


You'd be surprised. Porting say, a facebook game to a mobile device for example, isn't as straightforward as you'd think. Some technologies don't match together (vectorial art in flash vs iPhone for example, there are workarounds, but still) and visual ratios often mean you need to redo a lot of UI art. You may be under-evaluating the amount of work required.
Also, in a lot of ports, the codebase need to be started from scratch because of native incompatibilities. You can take that chance and refactor the code at the same time, because it may have been developed by iterations, but you know what the end product will be like, so a few optimizations are possible.

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