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Self-publishing lessons learned from Dave Castelnuevo of Bolt Creative

By on June 24, 2010

Welcome to the fifth in a series of 12 posts from games developers who have taken the brave step into self-publishing. They have all contributed to How to Publish a Game, and you can get the first two chapters absolutely free here.

Dave Castelnuevo is half of the team behind Pocket God, a phenomenally successful iPhone game that has sold over 2 million units.

The company started life as a Flash developer and started publishing for the iPhone and iPod Touch in late 2008.


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

We have complete control and not a lot of risk so it really opens the doors to the types of things we can try. We can push boundaries farther than an established company that has an image to worry about.

What’s been the worst thing?

I don’t think there is a worst thing. I love working in a small team, love wearing lots of hats, love working at home. I guess we have to be realistic in terms of what we can accomplish. We can’t try to build a game that would require more resources than we have.

What would you do differently if you did it again?

I would probably engage a PR company earlier in the process instead of doing that part on my own. I would also look for expert advisors for some of the business issues I face now (licensing, biz dev, etc) earlier in the process.

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

Create a game that you will love to make.

I consider any business venture a lottery ticket with its own chance of success. And while you can adjust the chances of a positive outcome, it’s impossible to guarantee that people will buy your game (unless you throw ungodly amounts of money at it like Zynga).

I think the only way to manage this “luck” component is to stay in the game as long as you can, try to take as many shots at the goal as you can and really learn from your unique experiences. I think it’s critical to learn from yourself rather than trying to plug someone else’s success formula into your situation.

That said, having some good advisors is very beneficial, just find a way to measure what they say against your own situation.

You can find out more about Bolt Creative at

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: