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Do we still need publishers?

05-01-2010, 03:40 PM
Senior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 303
Do we still need publishers?

I was wondering, in view of generally increased awareness among developers of how the App Store works, PR & promotional methods etc, if anyone still thinks that publishers such as Chillingo & Ngmoco still have anything worthwhile to offer for the percentages they ask for. I know they still have a lot of influence with Apple & major websites & also do a lot of paid advertising on behalf of developers, but things have moved on so quickly...
05-01-2010, 07:42 PM
Can the available promotional methods replace the need for a traditional publisher? I honestly would like to know, since I have an app that just last week stopped generating sales. I mean, can the social networks, tweets, and those paid marketing efforts be as effective as gameloft's promotional efforts for example? Or is there some sort of insider information big game names like ngmoco have that are needed to make any real serious earnings.

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05-01-2010, 08:53 PM
Well, those bug guys are nothing without good content. So if developers stay away from them, they are irrelevant. It is the same as the music busienss. Go indie or go with a big label. I like to think the technology allows us to not have to rely on publishers. Of course , they can focus on the promotional part, I would prefer that the terms be the developers terms not the publishers though.
05-01-2010, 08:55 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Location: Singapore
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How much percent in profit do they ask for?
05-01-2010, 11:53 PM
Originally Posted by kohjingyu View Post
How much percent in profit do they ask for?
This is a good question, but it isn't the right question. The correct question is how much can they increase your sales.

Let's say your sales are $10 a day. You approach a publisher and they take something crazy like 90%. That looks really, really bad and scary.

However, if the publisher is able to increase and stabilize your sales to $5000 a day, you'll be bringing in $500 a day. That is way more than your previous take.

Publishers aren't stupid, but they like to play it safe and play stupid. Part of their job is to estimate and calculate risk. They probably won't tell you what they expect sales to be, but I guarantee that they have a figure in mind. They don't throw money at things unless they know they can see a return on the investment.

So the original question is "are publishers relevant?". Yes they are for the simple reason that marketing is a job by itself, and it isn't easy. Most indies go at it by themselves and suffer greatly.

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05-02-2010, 12:03 AM
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 6,509
Yes, most do, especially if you're a new-comer. Unless you have a broad background in the subject of marketing (which is unlikely if you also happen to be a programmer, artist, or both), already had several hits, or come from a big name company and have already established a good reputation, it's almost impossible. Apple uses their hundreds of thousands of apps as great features for consumers, but it makes it almost impossible for developers to get their name out.
05-02-2010, 12:01 PM
A (good) publisher enables a developer do what they do best, while they go out and sell the product. So yeah, there is still a huge place for publisher in the app market.

Of course you if have a fan base, good contacts and time to spare on PR, probably you can do without.

To tell you the truth I wouldn't mind scoring a publisher in my next game, but I doubt any publisher will be interested in our indie retro pseudo-cool game
05-02-2010, 12:24 PM
Its arguable that publishers are more needed then ever. The number of people trying their hand at iphone deving is increasing by the week, and its getting harder and harder to shine above the others. Heck, there are a LOT of good quality indie games appearing now, and there is certainly a lot more talent (sheer volume wise) then there was before. So now you really have to try to be unique AND quality. One or the other on its own doesn't really cut it anymore.

For these reasons, standing out and being able to have a publisher market your game for you can be essential. Just the fact that you would be releasing under one of the "big boys" names is marketing in itself. Any website is far more likely to give your game coverage when its associated with a big name.

Its just one of those things you have to weigh as a dev. Going with a publisher is less of a risk, and you're much more certain to at least get moderate success and earn some money. Going on your own is a huge risk, but POTENTIALLY has higher reward (though that scenario is by far the exception)... but also a much higher potential to earn next to nothing.

With N.Y.Zombies we did everything ourselves and are surviving in the middle ground right now, which is definitely a viable option as well. Its not strictly "success or failure" like people make it out to be.
05-02-2010, 02:07 PM
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,206
Originally Posted by kohjingyu View Post
How much percent in profit do they ask for?
From what I understand Chillingo skims about 20%, although it's possible those terms are negotiable and/or based on certain criteria, but one developer I talk to frequently and work with from time to time is taking that hit for his latest game -- though this is the first time he's gone with a publisher.

Me, I'm not interested in publishers at all. My big problem with publishers is that their brand gets top billing despite the fact that it's you who did all the work; they just promoted it (to whatever extent they do so). That makes it hard for a developer to build their own brand and reputation. Honestly: How many times have you heard the average user here refer to "Chillingo's latest game"? Chillingo's. Not the developer's. Ditto for Ngmoco and the rest. That's not a place I want to go with my stuff.

However, I suppose it really depends entirely on how much of a one-man show you want to be -- how much time, effort and money you want to put into self-promotion. There is something to be said for getting on with updates or a new project while someone else toots the horns. It just depends on what you think that's worth to you while also keeping in mind that it's not just money you sacrifice.

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Last edited by Mindfield; 05-02-2010 at 02:10 PM.
05-02-2010, 09:37 PM
My suggestion would be to approach these publishers and ask for their terms. Then assess from the information that you got if you'll go the publishing route or not. Though I highly suggest that you try releasing your product by yourself at first and get a "feel" of all the marketing work needed and involved. Whether your app becomes a bestseller or not, the learning experience will always be worthwhile. It is still after all, a huge part of being an indie.