Distribution Developer's Experience with a Publisher

Does anyone on here have experience with a publisher? You don't have to share your actual company, game or publisher, but can anyone post about their experience? You can also send a private message if you don't want to post on the public forum.

I've been thinking, and since I still believe the Console license for releasing a game made with GameMaker Studio 2 should be an "One Time expense", which the current license type is rather too expense for the average indie, I figured the best way to still get a game released on consoles (even one's not approved for) is to work with a publisher. Also, let me clarify, that I don't think the Ultimate License is "Too Expense", but as discussed in another topic, I think it should be a "One Time" expense. But, again, not to bring that topic back.

Anyone who has worked with a publisher, could you answer some of these question?

If I have a publisher,

who pays the Console/Ultimate License? would it still be me, or would the publisher gave me a sub account so I can use the specified module myself?
How would I upload my game files to Steam, Nintendo, Xbox and PlayStation? Does the publisher give me a sub account for those platforms so I can upload the game builds and bug fixes myself? or would I send the publisher the game files for them to upload?

Could you also give an example of the style of your game (Pixel Art or 2D, etc.) and a general overview of how the publisher paid you? Again, I'm not asking for specifics.

Did they give you a large sum to develop your game further? or did they give you funds for every milestone?
What was your cut after they recouped the funds they gave? (60/40, etc.)
Was there any other expense you had working with a publisher?

In my experience, I feel that a publisher would be beneficial since I would rather work on my game only, and not have to think about the marketing side of things.
 
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I feel that a publisher would be beneficial since I would rather work on my game only, and not have to think about the marketing side of things.
It makes perfect sense. But on the chance that you produce a game so good that it markets itself, would you regret the decision to part with 30-40% of your money (and the rights to the game)?
 

JeffJ

Member
I've only had good experiences with working with a publisher. Based on my experiences, here's the absolute minimum you should expect from any publisher worth their salt:

1: Offer you advance in sales to cover potential development expenses (this could include licenses, we were offered significantly more than that would cost to put it mildly)
2: Take your game and you around to all the important expos - expect your game to be a consumer festivals such as PAX Prime / East / South, EGX, etc. - they cover the booth space costs and maybe even travel expenses for you.
3: Media coverage for your game. A good publisher has contacts for both the traditional, written media as well as prominent let's players and Twitch streamers, and will make sure your game gets eyeballs around release.
4: That they work with any potential opportunities to include your game in sales-boosting activities, such as bundles and themed sales
5: This last one may not be as important since you're working with GMS2, but some publishers also offer help with porting to additional platforms

Thanks to our publisher, we did get out to all the important consumer festivals / exhibitions, we did get a lot of media coverage, and in quite a few bundles. They did a lot for us that we'd never have been able to pull off ourselves. But beware, there are "publishers" out there who won't offer even half of the above. Do your due diligence, see if they actually have the power to do what you cannot. But with a good publisher, 70% of something is a lot better than 100% of nothing.
 

Yal

šŸ§ *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
The one publisher I've worked with basically had me do all the promotional work and then took 50% of the profits for the trouble (which became 100% in practice because nobody bought the game, so I never reached the $1000 payout threshold). The complete flop at a time where I was completely overloaded with stress was a contributing reason I entered a clinical depression and basically was mentally gone for a year. They did offer professional playtesting and generally are a pretty big name, which is a big reason I didn't suspect owls in the swamp, so to speak, but in retrospect I'd say they're pretty much banking on starry-eyed newbies to give them a stream of free revenue.

So yeah, do your research.
 

FrostyCat

Member
I've been thinking, and since I still believe the license for releasing a game made with GameMaker Studio 2 is still, too expense for the average indie, I figured the best way to still get a game released on consoles (even one's not approved for) is to work with a publisher.
Here's the big question: What console-based publisher would want to work with someone whose product revenue cannot easily afford $1500/year?

A publisher with ties to consoles has no obligation to, and certainly wouldn't want to, work with "average" indies. "Average" is broke, starving, and at the bottom of the discount bin. It doesn't matter what you believe. If there is inadequate potential for profit from the collaboration (i.e. the publisher ends up spending more money marketing, testing, working with vendors, etc. than they get from their cut), it's no deal. And part of determining that potential is current revenue.

If you cannot afford GMS 2 Ultimate yourself, you should not expect a competent publisher to take a foreseeable loss for you. They are for-profit entities, not charities.
 
It makes perfect sense. But on the chance that you produce a game so good that it markets itself, would you regret the decision to part with 30-40% of your money (and the rights to the game)?
Well as JeffJ said, "70% of something is a lot better than 100% of nothing." I'm not a greedy developer. I would gladly share revenue with a publisher that does their job well. Also, not every publisher will want part of the IP. Which is something I will never sell. I might give merchandising rights to a publisher though.
 
Here's the big question: What console-based publisher would want to work with someone whose product revenue cannot easily afford $1500/year?

A publisher with ties to consoles has no obligation to, and certainly wouldn't want to, work with "average" indies. "Average" is broke, starving, and at the bottom of the discount bin. It doesn't matter what you believe. If there is inadequate potential for profit from the collaboration (i.e. the publisher ends up spending more money marketing, testing, working with vendors, etc. than they get from their cut), it's no deal. And part of determining that potential is current revenue.

If you cannot afford GMS 2 Ultimate yourself, you should not expect a competent publisher to take a foreseeable loss for you. They are for-profit entities, not charities.
Your definition of an "Average Indie" is not my definition. My definition of an "Average Indie" is the hard working indie who has a day job or other responsibilities which limits their time to develop their game. Their game may be a best seller type, but without proper marketing, even best sellers would go under the radar.

Also, if I had $1,500 to spend every year, (not to get started again) I wouldn't need a publisher. I would just hire a team to do what I lacked. On the other hand if from what I hear from other people if I was given an advance of $40,000 to $60,000 to finish my game, then license cost would be a different story. Also, let me clarify, that I don't think the Ultimate License is "Too Expense", but as discussed in another topic, I think it should be a "One Time" expense. But, again, not to bring that topic back.
 
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otterZ

Member
@FrostyCat . . . glad you are back, thought you had gone . . . a great motivator of new devs and the reason I am trying to code more succinctly with your guidelines. Awesome!
 

woods

Member
>Kyle
heh, i'd like to know any good team that will work a decent load for $120/month.. even a poor team for that matter ;o)
your definition of "average indie" developer is more akin to a "part time hobbyist"
 
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