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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessSelling your game to a publisher
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GhostUnclean
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« on: July 13, 2008, 06:06:47 am »



Hi. Wondering if anyone had any advice on getting publishers interested in your game ? We're currently looking for a publisher on our self-funded DS title (which we can't show you - yet) and we're having the hardest time, as most places we've contacted either did not answer back or gave us a polite 'don't call us, we'll call you'. They would probably get really exicted if they could simply see and play our game, only we can't seem to get to this step.

We're hoping to hit trade shows to present our demo behind closed doors, but since we are not located in the USA, it makes travel + arrangements expensive and complicated, and we prefer to inject that money in developpement.

So any ideas ? Any publishers we could contact ?
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Decipher
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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2008, 06:28:45 am »

Quote
They would probably get really exicted if they could simply see and play our game

Not to sound too harsh but I know at least a dozen of people who say this... You can't get their attention like this, you need to prove that the game is what you say by some kind of public demo and a mini cult that brags about it 7/24. So, saying "which we can't show you - yet" is a big downer, a really big one.

That said, if you're this certain about the game, then you should really invest that money on expensive plane tickets to get to the USA if you already know some honest publishers there. Also anything else is cheap in the States so at least hotel and stuff like that wouldn't be a problem.
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Saint
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2008, 07:02:02 am »

Well... if you have something to show, why don't you just send it to them then? or a video of it? What kind of approach have you taken when contacting publishers? If your offer is "we have this really good game we want to sell you, but we can't present anything about it until we meet you face-to-face!" Then nobody is going to pick up on it. You need to start selling the product to get people interested. I get that you think you need to protect your idea, so I suggest you read this article.

If you can't get a publisher interested, you could try and present it to someone at a development studio; a studio with a track record has a much easier time getting publishers to back them so presenting it in their name could make doors open, and getting a developer interested in a game is usually easier than getting someone whose job it is to approve projects interested. And you should be able to find a studio close to where you live as well since games are being developed all over the place.

Finally, all of the big publishers have offices in Europe (and some Asia) as well as the US, so going there would likely be a waste of money. If you can't think of anything else, try and hit competitions and trade shows with your game to create some buzz around it, there are always buyers present at those.
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GhostUnclean
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2008, 07:07:19 am »

You're probably right. Ponying up the cash to America is probably the best solution. Still, somehow, I just keep hoping for a simpler and easier road to stardom. I'm an optimist!

By the way, is there any place I could find a list of smaller North American publishers ? D3, DSI, Valcon, etc ?
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Guert
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2008, 07:16:01 am »

First of all, when contacting a publisher, you have to make sure you show them you mean business. You're not looking for someone to play your game, you're looking for a business partner. I don't know much about your project, but I recommend that you do various things before you contact a publisher.

First, build a website that looks professional. On that website, you have to tell what the games is, it's key features, show a couple of screenshots and post some gameplay footage. No demos or anything like that, just pics and vids.

Second, build a business plan. Know how much time it'll take to finish the game, how many people will work on it and how much it'll cost. Also, have a good idea of when you want to release the game, what territories you are aiming for and how you want to get paid. Are you getting some funding from government or external investors? You have to tell an interested publisher these things so that they know what they are expecting. But before we get further in that topic, let's talk about the approach a bit.

When you approach a publisher, first of all, never shoot randomly. You have to know what kind of publisher you are looking for and what is your game's honest potential. Don't bother shooting your gore FPS game at some publisher that focuses on kids game unless someone in the company has told you that they decided to head this way. Finding a publisher is like finding a date: if you take whatever lies around you might not be statisfied; If you take a bit more time to search, you'll find someone with similar interest. Secondly, know who you are talking to. Search their website(s) or call them to know who is responsible with game submissions. Get his/her name, email and if possible phone number(s). Then you can prepare your approach. Remember, You have to put the publisher in confidence when approaching it, making sure it doesn't think you're just some guy like a million others but a pro and serious business partner.

When you do your approach, say general but sturdy facts like: "I'm head of team X and we are working on our (first/second/third etc...) title named X. It is currently at STATE_OF_GAME_HERE (like full playable demo, tech demo, alpha, beta, gold) stage and we are looking to secure a publishing deal." This'll tell how far in the project you are which will give a good idea to the publisher how much money it'll need to invest. You can also tell your team's state if it helps, like "we're a bunch of leads with 10+ years of xp in the industry and we decided to make a game together". Whatever fact you have that will tell the publisher you are serious business partners will help.

In your approach, always tell why you are approaching the publisher in particular. Saying "We believe that you would be interested in our game because of X and X reasons because it fits with your current games, such as PUBLISHERGAME_A and PUBLISHERGAME_B" means that you know what kind of game they publish and understand their publishing direction. If you don't show that, the publisher will feel like you're just spamming.

Always tell the publisher that you can provide extra info about the game on demand. Don't show it unless it asks. Of course this means that you must make sure you have design documents, pitch/high concept documents and if possible a working demo at hand so that you can show something if the publisher is interested. Side notes about demos: never release a playable demo before finding a publisher. Most publishers are very happy to know that they have exclusivity. The second a gameplay mechanic can be played, it can get stolen. You can show parts of the idea in vids, but do not allow the public to play it before you get a contract. And, speaking of contract, make sure you specify if you can release a demo and when you can start doing so.

Earlier, I talked about business plans and time schedules. Well, if the publisher ever wants to get serious with you, that's when you need to tell him what you want in the business relationship. The details vary from one game plateform to another but in general, knowing how much it'll cost to finish, how many copies is gonna be made and how much they'll pay you (and using what method) are the key issues to discuss. It's wise to never sign the first deal. Especialy when dealing for the first time with a publisher. It is usual to see new devs getting exploited by publishers. It's not a bad behavior from their sides, you're doing some very serious and high business with them, it's just that the new guys just sign whatever paper the publishers shove under their noses. If you ever get an offer, read it and make sure you understand it. Counter offer with something similar but that pulls the blanket more on your side and see how they react. Then, keep dealing until you both are satisfied with the terms. Try to remain cool headed even when dealing with big numbers, wich is very usual when talking about games. A 250 000$ offer for a game might look tasty but when you think about it, it's pretty bitter. You have to pay for taxes, an even share to all the team, office suplies, buy licenses for your hardware and software (specialy if you are using pirates or working on consoles), find a place to work, pay the rent and in some cases pay for some advertisement and box artworks. Sure you can cut back on many things but 250 000$ is spent real fast in the world of video games. Plus, you'll need to put some on the side if you ever want to make another game.

Well, I hope this helps a bit. There are many things to look at when going in the big leagues with a game and it ain't always easy. But, don't give up, it is quite possible to succeed, you just need to have the guts and a good plan of action.

Take care!
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moi
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« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2008, 09:08:57 am »

I suggest you ask over at indiegamer.com, where you'll find more people with knowledge and experience from within the industry (and some very huge egos).

As for your game, IMO, publishers will only be interested if you show them a game of very good quality, and that looks very close to completion (i.e. concept art isn't going to do it).
The fact that publishers haven't been very enthusiast doesn't bode well , so I would advise you to make sure your game is of sufficient quality and polish and has good sales potential.
And as i said above, take contact with people with experience.

and what Guert said

[EDIT] Oh , and by re-reading your first post it seems that you didn't even show anything from your game to potential publisher. Which isn't very clever, you need to show the goods upfront, these people don't have time to waste with "aspiring devellopers".
« Last Edit: July 13, 2008, 09:12:47 am by moi » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2008, 11:02:28 am »

(which we can't show you - yet) and we're having the hardest time....
... behind closed doors...
Why all the secrecy? Clearly it's not helping you. Just my somewhat educated opinion, but if you're concerned that some big company is going to steal your idea don't be. In fact by showing it you're insuring that they CAN'T because by international trademark laws if you can prove you were first with an idea by any means, patent papers or public demos, you have the legal right to it.

(Okay, there is some gray area if what they produce is far enough off from what you've done, but I think you're giving the greedy publishers too much credit.)

My suggestion kind of echos what's already here. Get a web site, make a demo video, get people interested, start a buzz, and then pitch it to a publisher. If it's really good you won't even need to pitch. Publishers will be knocking at your door.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you have a legitimate reason for secrecy. If you do, and I can't think of a single one, then good luck. But if all you're succumbing to the all too common fear of someone damaging your little baby then it's time get over it and fling that kid headlong into the world. Nothing good comes from hiding your light under a bushel. If you're hands are closed in fists you can never catch the pennies that are falling from heaven.
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« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2008, 01:56:31 pm »

I'll also point you to Tom Sloper's guide to the submission process.

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Alex May
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« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2008, 07:35:47 am »

Have you contacted Majesco, they seem to be into DS titles at the moment.

I must say though, you're likely to end up with a bad deal that leaves you hooked into development of titles that compromise your vision. I get the impression a lot of publishers (and some platform holders) view the indie scene as a sort of sea of opportunity, so they're looking for wide-eyed talent to take advantage of. Don't be one of those! If the deal doesn't suit you, walk away.
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PHeMoX
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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2008, 10:03:35 am »

You're probably right. Ponying up the cash to America is probably the best solution. Still, somehow, I just keep hoping for a simpler and easier road to stardom. I'm an optimist

Well... not to put you down, but most people going to Hollywood, won't become stars. Having said that, even for an American publisher to notice you in America you will have to reach the same level of 'interesting-ness' otherwise a publisher won't be interested. In short; it doesn't matter where you are from or where you live... if the game is really good enough, it will probably lure a publisher to you, instead of the other way around.
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