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Self-publishing lessons learned from Cliff Harris of Positech

By on August 26, 2010
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Welcome to the latest in the series of Lessons Learned from developers who have bitten the self-publishing bullet. They’ve experienced the highs and lows of publishing their own games, wrestled with games marketing, distribution and finance and they are kind enough to share their wisdom and experience with us all.

if you’re interested in self-publishing you can download the first two chapters of How to Publish a Game right now for free. Now, over to this week’s developer.

Cliff Harris is everything from CEO to dogsbody at his one-man band shop Positech. Formerly an AI programmer at Elixir and Lionhead, for the past few years he has been developing strategy and simulation games.

screenshot of the Gratuitous Space Battles homepage

His latest game is Gratuitous Space Battles, a space battle game that is like a cross between Tower Defence and Homeworld. He has been outspoken about the need for developers who want to sell their own games to pay attention to finance, to marketing and, above all analytics. He’s a man after my own heart.

What’s been the best thing about self-publishing your game?

Not having a boss, and the total freedom to make any  decision regarding what I do without approval from anybody

What’s been the worst thing?

Not knowing where the money is coming from in the long term

What would you do differently if you did it again?

I would have perfected the product more, before first putting it up for review, to get the best possible scores.

What advice would you give someone thinking about self-publishing for the first time?

Don’t be tempted to compete on price unless you are selling a generic commodity product like rice. Entertainment is not rice. People who like Barry Manillow will not go see Ozzy Osborne because the ticket is cheaper, and it’s the same with games or anything else.

If your business plan is to be cheaper than everyone else, you don’t have a plan.

Next week, Rick Vanner from the Game Creators.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com