5 reasons why a good publisher doesn’t care about your game
I’ve written a blog post about which questions to ask a publisher before signing with him. But that was the ideal case, when you already met one interested by your game.
Many game developers will desperately look for a great publisher and want to land a deal. There are many reasons why a “good” publisher doesn’t want to work with you.
Street Cred & History
Your previous game show your capacity in finishing a game. You can also how some social network accounts you built over time. Your reputation & game dev history will always be look at, but not that much. Publishers want to publish great games, work with cool people and get things done without hassles. People in the publishing business are often people passionate of video games like you.
Your game sucks, but it’s not their job to tell you. They don’t have time to answer you.
It’s best to meet publisher in real life, during events, to show them your game. You’ll be able to have a human, natural dialogue and ask feedback about your game. You can also make them try and explain what you plan to do next.
While meeting publishers, you’ll often have broken or incomplete versions to show. Small tip: try to have a “publisher version” where you have a basic version of all the features and enough levels. You don’t need all the assets, just the core fun of the game.
Not enough bandwidth
Publishing means working very closely with a developer during several month or years. Even after all this work, the sales might not great and publishers take a lot of risks to work with you. Your timing while asking a publisher for a deal will be very important.
Are they finishing a project? Starting new ones? Those people can’t publish 20 games every month, because it wouldn’t be profitable and healthy. Be careful about your timing and their timing when you ask them.
You may have an excellent game, with an insane gameplay and a crazy good feeling. But, your game is also linked to the game industry market. Your theme, art direction, genre of game can easily turn off a publisher for a deal. Some publishers make a lot of market research and business intelligence. They use tools such as EEDAR or Steamspy. They can’t predict sales exactly but they certainly know the big trends.
For instance, Survival Open world are still a big trend and tend to sell easily, even on Early Access.
Publishers also have access to exclusive data such as upcoming consoles or good deals with partners. Some publishers can find you great exclusivity deals to sign with console manufacturers.
Some publishers are very specialized in niche market they highly master. They can also be interested in getting skills in a specific genre of game.
For instance, Sega is really good at publishing strategy games. It was a very good move from them to buy the 4X specialist from Amplitude. This buyout means they reinforce their strategy lineup and extend it with a 4x component.
Focus Home used to have very diversified games. They published Farming Simulator, Trackmania, Pro Cycling Manager, Seasons After Fall. Nowadays, they’re focusing on Middle budget Action RPG (200 to 1mo budget) such as Shiness, Styx or Greedfall. In fact, if you’re going to see them with a 30k arcade platformer budget, I’m pretty sure they won’t be interested.
Some other publishers won’t be interested in putting a million dollar in your game. They just want small deals with a 6 month window release opportunity.
These publishers’ calendar can are often filled with game projects for the next two years. Always do some market research before asking a publisher for a deal. It’s also really important to ask your peers about their publishers.