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Never accept “we’ll do the PR for your game with a value of $50,000” in your publishing contract.
Over at MobileDevMemo, Eric Seufert has written an extremely useful post on working with a publisher for your free-to-play game.
In particular, he highlights that a publisher should be able to commit serious cash AND serious expertise to driving user acquisition for your game. If all they are doing is appointing an external agency to do the User Acquisition for you, they are taking a lot of revenue share in return for being a manager of outsourced activities.
The whole post is worth reading, but three things leaped out at me:
- Marketing budget should be unlocked by contractually agreed terms based on Key Performance Indicators
- Only accept performance user acquisition spend in these numbers, not fluffy agreements (“$50k worth of PR”)
- Be cautious of accepting cross-promotion as part of the contractual agreement: will the publisher really priritise you over their own in-house games, and are their players the right fit for your game.
We are entering the era of mobile game publishers as the Second Golden Age of Gaming comes to an end. That means there will be lots of unscrupulous publishers trying to ensnare unwary developers. There are also good publishers out there. I recommend you read Eric’s post, and seek good legal advice.