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Time to change our thinking: developers outsource to publishers, not the other way round

By on March 23, 2010

I’ve been helping a lot of developers with their self-publishing strategy and I’ve discovered that there is one thought process that can make a huge difference to how developers (of all levels) think.

Conventional wisdom says that publishers outsource development to game studios.

I think it’s time we flipped that on its head.

“Developers outsource publishing to publishers”

Think about it. It’s your baby, your dream, your idea. And you are giving up vast swathes of royalty to a publisher. In return, the publisher funds it, markets it, distributes and takes the money. Which they then pay to you. (Sometimes).

But by flipping your perspective on your head, by realising that you are outsourcing to the publisher, just as much as they are outsourcing to you, you can start changing the nature of the relationship.

It’s not about “please, someone, give me some money”. It’s about finding the best partner for getting your game to market. In this new world of self-publishing, your best partner might be Facebook, or Apple, or Bigpoint. It might be best for you to do all the publishing yourself. Or you can outsource it all to Electronic Arts, or Activision, so you can just focus on making the best possible design.

But by flipping your perspective on its head, you take responsibility. It’s your baby, creatively AND commercially. And with this shift, developers have a whole new way of thikning about their future.

A very exciting future.

(I’m giving a talk tomorrow in Manchester, sponsored by Tiga and Weightmans. It’s free, so do come along

How to Publish a Game

Ever wanted to fire your publisher and keep all the money he makes for doing nothing? Well, now’s your chance. Only, it’s not as easy that. Turns out that your publisher didn’t do nothing. They distributed your product. Knew how to create buzz and purchase intention. And they helped provide finance. They took your game to market. And now you need to learn how to do it all yourself.  Help is at hand from GAMESbrief’s Nicholas Lovell. He’ll tell you how to sell and market, distribute and finance your game. Or how to find a partner for each key element. And take back control of your game.)

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: